Four Valentine’s Day Activities that OT’s LOVE
by Amalia Garcia, OTR/L
Pediatric Occupational Therapist
We are always looking for fun ways to enhance our activities for the kiddos while still working on important developmental skills. We love to use holidays as inspiration and Valentine’s Day is here! Try these Valentine’s Day themed activities with your kiddos that target skills such as fine motor development, visual motor integration, bilateral coordination, and executive functioning.
This is a classic Valentine’s Day craft that involves various skills such as folding paper, tracing, cutting with scissors, hole-punching, and lacing. All you need is some pink or red construction paper, markers, scissors, hole-puncher and some yarn. OT’s love this activity because it works on improving bilateral coordination, fine motor skills and hand strengthening.
You need bilateral coordination, or the ability to use both sides of the body together, to stabilize the paper heart with one hand while cutting, hole-punching and lacing with the dominant hand. Lacing activities work on improving fine motor development and visual motor integration because the task requires pinching the yarn with the fingertips and using the visual system to accurately lace the yarn through each hole. Using the hole-puncher is a great way for kiddos to increase their grip strength.
This activity is for kids ages 4 and up and can be adjusted based on skill level. For example, if your child struggles to lace with yarn, try using pipe cleaners which are easier to manipulate. Click here for a lacing heart template.
Making homemade valentines is another way to work on a lot of the same skills as the lacing hearts activity but can also be used to work on handwriting! Have your child practice addressing each valentine to family and friends. This craft can help your child work on letter sizing and fine motor control by writing on a smaller space in comparison to practicing handwriting on regular paper. If your child still has difficulty with letter formation and sizing, you can have them practice tracing instead. Have your kid use stickers and glue fun decorations for even more fine motor and grasp development!
Bingo with Candy Hearts
Bingo is another OT favorite that can easily be made holiday-themed by using candy hearts as markers! Bingo works on skills such as visual scanning, matching, figure-ground, direction-following and eye-hand coordination. If you want to work on improving your child’s ability to manipulate small items in their hand, you can have them hold a handful of candy hearts in their palm and use their fingertips to place each piece on their bingo board. If you want to work on their grasp development, have them use plastic tweezers to pick up each candy heart and place it on their bingo board.
Baking activity: Heart-shapes Cookies
Baking is a great activity to try with older kiddos and is a fun, tasty way to work on so many important skills. Baking and decorating sugar cookies requires higher-level skills such as planning, problem-solving, direction following, sequencing, and safety awareness. It can also help kids with tactile sensitivities explore various textures in a safe environment.
It is helpful to provide written instructions as well as visuals to make the task easier to follow step-by-step. Make sure to go over safety precautions when using the oven and hygiene reminders such as hand washing and cleaning surfaces where you will be rolling and cutting the dough. You can adjust this activity depending on the age of your kiddo and what specific skills you want to address. To make the activity easier, use pre-made dough and make the activity more challenging by making the dough and frosting from scratch! Click here for a simple sugar cookie recipe to use with your kids.
We hope you have fun with these activities! If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us at Kids Place Pediatric Therapy.