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The novelty of the new school year has lost a bit of its luster and it’s time for some refreshing OT ideas that tie in with one of the most colorful, fun times of the year: fall. How can you keep your students engaged in creative learning activities that will continually enhance their skills and senses?

Rake, Jump, Race, Hunt and Create with Leaves

What child of any age doesn’t love fall leaves and the chance to have some fun with them? Come on, you want to rake up a pile and jump in just thinking about it!

  • Raking is great heavy work for children. It helps provide proprioceptive input to their muscles and joints, increasing body strength, endurance and awareness. And once you have a pile, let your students jump right in. This encourages vestibular input.
  • Play hide and seek. Hide familiar objects in a pile of leaves and have children find them. This offers youngsters tactile input and works on discrimination skills. To add difficulty, have them locate objects with their eyes closed and then guess what they’ve found.
  • Have a leaf blowing race. Give your students a straw and instruct them to blow a leaf across a table. This activity is great for oral motor input as well as heavy work through the mouth.
  • Go on a nature hunt. Have children use tweezers or tongs to pick up leaves, acorns and pine cones. This helps increase grip strength and precision.
  • Create works of art using leaves: Children can make rubbings using large leaves by placing them under paper and then coloring the paper, thus transferring the leaf image. Use small or broken crayons to facilitate a tripod grasp. Make a leaf person by having students glue different shape leaves on paper and then draw in arms, legs and other body parts. This fine motor activity also promotes body awareness. Go to FreeKidsCrafts.com for downloadable leaf patterns that children can decorate by cutting and pasting on crumpled squares of tissue paper in bright fall colors.

Pumpkins: Carving and More

Supervised pumpkin carving facilitates fine motor skills and provides a great wet tactile activity. Children can scoop out the inside and play with the mess. Picking out the seeds to toast works both as a pincer grasp exercise and to provide a healthy snack. Additional pumpkin activities include:

  • Bowling: Use pumpkins as bowling balls. This provides children with heavy work as they lift the gourds, plus object manipulation skills as they roll them towards a target.
  • Races: Have children race – around cones or other obstacles if you prefer – while carrying a pumpkin. This enhances motor planning and agility as it provides vestibular and proprioceptive input.

Finger Painting

Finger paint is an excellent medium to work on children’s tactile skills. If the weather cooperates, take this activity outside to minimize the mess.

  • Have children make a tree trunk by putting brown finger paint on their palm and forearm and pressing it to paper. Then they can use various autumnal colors to paint leaves onto the branches. Allow those who are sensitive to tactile input to use a paintbrush.

Do you need additional resources to enhance your school-based OT practice – or are you looking to take your therapy career to the next level? Read our related posts or contact the specialized team at Cobb Pediatric Therapy Services today.


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