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Using Pennies and Coins in Therapy

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When doing online therapy for a year during the pandemic, it really made me scale down my supplies because the student and I both had to have the same supplies to use. I used a lot of household items that were easy for both the family and I to have available and ready to use. One item that is very easy to come by is coins or pennies and there are so many great fine motor activities that you can do using pennies.

For some students, it is a fine motor challenge just picking up the coins off of the table. You can line up the coins in a row and see who can make the longest row first. You can also challenge the muscles by incorporating speed to pick up the coins. 

Stacking and sorting

Start with a small pile of assorted coins, and have the student pick out coins from the table and stack them in piles of the same coins. You can add on to the level of challenge by stacking large to small in one stack. You can also see how tall you can stack the coins.

Flipping

Start with placing coins in a line and then have the coins all with the heads up or tails up. You then have the student start at the left and flip each coin over one at a time. You want to do both the right hand and the left hand. Increase the challenge by having the kids flip the coins as fast as they can. 

In-hand Manipulation

Squirreling

A higher skill involves moving the coins from the finger tips to the palm and then back to the finger tips again. I have my students pick up five coins, one at a time and squirrel them into their palm until they are holding all five coins in their hand. Then they have to move the coins one at a time to their finger tips and place the coins into a container or onto the table or stack. My favorite container to put the coins into is a Munchy ball. 

Manipulating

A little harder than squirreling the coins is holding two different types of coins in one hand and then move the specified coin to the finger tips and back into the palm, and then move another specified coin to the finger tips and back to the palm. This task requires a little more control and finesse to get the right coins out rather than just the easiest one to move out. 

Flipping between fingers

Another challenging task with coins is moving a coin between finger tips, over and under, from index finger to pinky finger.

Piggy bank

Placing coins into a piggy bank slot has its own challenge because not only does the student need to manipulate the coins in their hand, but they need to move the coin and their hand to match the direction that the slot is going in order for the coin to go in.

Coins with playdoh or putty

You can burry the coins into playdoh and have the student use both hands to try and dig it out. This requires strength and the coordination of two hands. If you want to challenge just one hand, you can make it harder by having them try to dig out the coins from the playdoh with only one hand and fingers. 

You can also roll the play doh into logs and stick the coins into the playdoh on their ends

What is your favorite way to use coins in OT?

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Tonya is a pediatric Occupational Therapist, and loves creating things to work on skills and solve problems.

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