I thought I would share some of my Halloween fine motor activities to help inspire others during this fun holiday.
Even though this post is mainly on fine motor activities, I will start with what I do as a gross motor activity. As I have said in other posts, having strong gross motor muscles is critical to develop stability and mobility in the fine motor areas. I adore an obstacle course to work on gross motor skills.
Here you will see the big spoon you buy to scoop out pumpkins. The child must hold this in their dominant hand. Then place an “eye ball” on the spoon to carry it through the course. If you can not find eye balls then I have also just taken ping-pong balls and drawn eye balls on them. Also, if a ball is too hard for the child then I have found some pumpkin pom poms to use for that child. For this course, the child walked across a balance beam, across my steeping stools in a half circle, and then across two balance beams in a V shape. At the end of the course, the child must place the ball into a jack-o-lantern or a container while maintaining their balance.
I have also had a PT that brought a real pumpkin to therapy. She then did an obstacle course rolling and carry the pumpkin through and over things.
This year I actually turned the below fine motor task into a fine motor plus gross motor task. This is an old Skittles Halloween candy container. I have students push pom poms through the mouth opening. Make sure the pom poms are slightly bigger than the opening, by doing that you will work the 3 fingers that kids use to hold pencils (tripod grasp). I turned it into a balance gross motor activity, for my higher level kids, by having them stand on something that is tricky on their balance (balance board/ balance beam with feet turned side ways/ two yoga blocks with a foot on each block). I placed the pom poms on the floor, preferably on the opposite side of their dominant hand. Then I had them reach down and across for a pom pom. Once they grasped it they either had to stand up and put it in the container that they were holding or reach way up to put it in the container where I was holding it.
This is probably one of my favorite activities I have come up with for Halloween. I found flexible/ movable snakes at the dollar store and a straw Halloween drinking container. The kids help the snakes crawl into the pumpkin (through the whole for the straw). This again, works the tripod fingers. It is also harder than it looks, so to make it easier for some of my kids I cut some of the snakes into thirds. It is also much easier if the kids put the snake’s head in first.
One year we also put these snakes in a large bowl of shaving cream and had the students find the snakes.
I have also found these skeleton heads, that are actually plastic beads to string. However, I love to bury them in theraputty. If you do not have theraputty you could bury them in almost anything (Play Dough, craft clay, firm sand). The kids also love to bury them for the next student. Of course, you can use them for stringing beads too. I have found that it is easy to find Halloween themed beads at Michael’s, if you stay on the look out for them.
Another classic fine motor favorite of mine is this one. The container is actually a plastic container you find at hardware stores to hold nails and screws. The top has a moveable plastic slit but you have to work hard to get things in (and out) of it. I use the themed erasers with students and just change them out as the activity themes change during my school year. This is also a great way to work on pre-buttoning skills for children that struggle with buttoning. Of course, you can also just take Tupperware container or an old play dough container and cut a slit in it for the same idea.
Even though I do not use these a lot I like them. They are very short and small stamps. I like them as they are short enough that a child could only get two to three fingers on them. Therefore, again working those critical tripod grasp fingers. I found these stamps at my local drug store, CVS. I will also add here, that small stickers (about the size of what you see on the stamps) is another way to work the tripod fingers. But these are not my go to type activities.
Now, of course, I adore a visual perceptual construction task. As you will learn, I love to take the Handwriting Without Tears Mat Man concepts and expand on them, throughout the school year in various ways. I made this out of the very thick foam mat sheets. I give my kids a choice with a happy mouth or a scary mouth. I like the scary too as it works on making diagonal lines. The students will construct this at one point in the session and then draw it at another point in the session. I also like this activity, as it is a way to work on drawing triangles and a square. Drawing triangles is a harder visual motor skill and I would not worry about it for my preschoolers (unless they seem advanced in that area). They can just draw a circle and will naturally do this if they are not at the skill level for triangles.
Remember there are 6 separate pieces that the child will see become on whole item. That is the visual perceptual skill for construction perception. It is a skill critical for forming letters and drawing pictures.
Now for my higher level students, I have a 24 piece jigsaw puzzle. Again, I found this at the dollar store. I love this one, as it is an easy design for my OT students that may have a delay in this visual motor/ visual perceptual area.
I also love for my higher level students to do pencil mazes. This works on fine motor coordination and control. I have students use their eyes and finger first to solve the maze before I will give them the pencil. Sometimes, I will use a highlighter to give them a few hints for which direction they should head. For older students (for me grades 1-5) I adore this site for various themed pencil mazes. www.printactivities.com Then click on their “maze” section.
This is one of my favorite mazes for Halloween but they have a few other choices too.
I hope you find these ideas helpful and will make a playful holiday even more fun for your kids.
I also hope to post my Halloween Yoga Poses as another blog but we shall see if it happens before this Halloween.
Happy Halloween to all and blessings to all that remember All Saints Day, the day before Halloween.