Occupational therapy jobs can be intriguing and fun – especially when art enters the picture. Art projects can improve motivation during and after occupational therapy – with the additional benefits of increased creativity and self-esteem among students. According to Today in OT (Twitter: @TodayinOT), art projects offer the school-based occupational therapist a way to grade cognitive challenges such as following directions, making decisions, identifying and correcting errors and more.
Both the student and the occupational therapist can experience fun in therapy sessions with these occupational therapy art projects that we’ve gathered from across the web.
Occupational therapists working with children to develop finger muscle strength and functional grasp will love this activity shared at OTPlan (Twitter: @OTPlan) Occupational therapists can help the children add colorful pom-poms to wooden clothespins using tweezers and glue. The children can then cut out different size and shape leaves from construction paper for each of the caterpillars.
Holding onto objects can be tricky, especially if they are cold and slippery. Painting with ice cubes can be a great art project in occupational therapy classrooms to develop fine motor skills and functional grasp. Add food coloring to water and freeze in ice cube trays. Once frozen, remove the ice cubes and allow the children to paint with the ice cubes on white paper. This is a great activity for warm summer days! Use gloves for those children with extra sensitivity to cold sensations. Thank you to Jen’s OT for Kids for this activity!
An uncommon art project, this idea from Hey…Things Change (Twitter: @thechangelady) is excellent for helping children develop hand strength and practice fine motor skills through repetitive action. First, help the children punch holes in two paint chips placed back to back. Depending on the child’s ability and strength, the occupational therapist may need to conduct this step. Leaving a short tail, ask the child to thread yarn through the holes and tie at the end. These cards can then either be used as name cards, invitations and more!
Created originally by Patricia K. Wesley, occupational therapists can use this art project using rolling pins and paint to help students create unique artwork while working on fine motor skills. Each child receives a sheet of white paper with a few dots of paint in their favorite colors. The occupational therapist can then help them fold the paper over and use the rolling pin to roll over the paper in several different directions. The children then open up the folded paper to reveal their work of art, adding more paint dots if they wish.
The project we discovered at Learn ~ Play ~ Imagine (Twitter: @LearnPlayImagine) is well-suited for varying skills levels, but can turn into a challenge by using toothpicks to hold the marshmallows. Use differently-sized marshmallows to offer even more creativity and variety in the paintings. Occupational therapists can encourage children to apply more or less pressure to the paper to create special effects while helping them develop skills.
A versatile activity offered by The Land of Nod (Twitter: @TheLandofNod), students can practice many common movements like folding and stretching rubber bands, while working on hand/eye coordination. Using large sheets of tissue paper, the children fold the paper back and forth into a long rectangle. After that, the paper is folded into a triangle and bound with rubber bands. The triangle is then dipped into different colors of watered down paint or food coloring. When the paper is dry, carefully unwrap it to reveal the tie-dye creation.
Using different sheets of scrapbook or construction paper, paper weaving is a great art project to develop fine motor skills and concentration. Occupational therapists can encourage the creation of specific patterns or allow for free creativity. A single sheet of paper is cut into one-inch strips with a small amount left uncut at the top. It is then taped down to the table. The remaining sheets of paper are cut into one-inch strips to be woven through the primary sheet. Thanks to Tot School for this project idea!
Bringing art into occupational therapy is a great way to improve motivation, encourage concentration and focus while helping to develop key fine motor skills.
We would love to know which of these fun occupational therapy art projects you plan to try – or have tried – in your own classroom. Please share in the comments below!
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