This is a fun activity that you can probably get materials donated from parents. These are special locks that I got from an amazing OT, Marianne Gibbs, who writes the awesome website, writeoutofthebox.com. If you ever have a chance to see her present, do She changed the way look at kids along with my expectations for them. Anyway, in this activity students line up the correct letters to unlock the lock. You could easily do this by asking parents if they have extra locks and keys they could donate. Have a box with all of the locks and keys and have students try and figure out which keys open which locks. This sounds like a secret agent activity. 🙂
I bought this rack at the Dollar Tree and a few rolls of ribbon at the craft store. Cut the ribbons and have students weave the ribbon in and out of the rack. They can create a pattern or just do random colors. This can be done with construction paper too but at the beginning of the year this activity is just perfect for my kids.
A cutting tub is a must for my classroom. This is just another form of sensory play. You can put any kind of paper in the tub. At first I have regular small scissors. It's amazing to me how many kids struggle to hold and cut with scissors. Later, I will add fun zig zag scissors with different options. Students will stand around the tub and simply cut the materials in the tub. There are no lines to follow. They are cutting stuff just to cut it. The only rule is that they cannot cut anything outside of the tub and that they must keep all materials inside the tub. I think they like cutting tissue paper the most. Either way, it's fun and may not seem purposeful, but it totally is. This also relieves stress for some students who can't master cutting and that seems to send them over the edge. This give them an opportunity to practice without the stress of a structured activity with lines and boundaries.
Legos are so much fun. It is amazing to me how many students don't have legos at home anymore. Why is that?! It's so good for fine motor. If you want to differentiate it, there are several ways to put an academic spin on them too. Give students number cards and have them build something with that number of legos or stack that number of legos. Have them sort by colors and then build. Let students try to build something based upon the letter or sound you just taught or to create a certain pattern. There are so many ways you can use legos, sometimes we just have to think outside the box to justify it. 🙂
Gears are another fun way for students to use their imagination building whatever their heart desires. This is a definite favorite with my boys and super great for building fine motor muscles.
I think Tinker Toys may be a thing of the past, but as longs as I can keep from losing them, they will remain in my classroom. Kids create the most amazing things with materials like Tinker Toys. Think about what kids need to create something….their imagination (mind) and their HANDS. 🙂
As you can see, legos have ended up in every tub in my classroom. Haha. Note to self, go through the tubs. Trains is another favorite. These trains are pretty tired but are still going strong. I bought them Lakeshore Learning many moons ago. At the begging of the year, I just let the kids build and play. Later, they can put them in order and even spell words with them. 🙂
Have you heard of mobilos? These things are awesome! Search them on amazon to see more pics of them in use. They are a great way to build objects that move like cars. Kids combine various shapes to create something. They can add tons of wheels too. They LOVE these!
You seriously can't go wrong with playdough. Apparently Mr. Potato Head has lost his hat in this tub. Did I mention I haven't really cleaned these out yet for the new year? 🙂 Anyway, my kids start playing with playdough the first day of school. Yes, you read that correctly. Day one people! In each chair pocket, I keep one of the the small containers of playdough…the ones you can buy as a party favor sold in bags of ten. This is a great go to if we have an extra five minutes of if an adult walks into the room and I need two minutes to answer a question. I have my kids get out their playdough and complete a task. Tasks can include: Create the first letter of your name, create your name, make five balls, etc. I also have this tub (below) with all kinds of cookie cutters, rollers, etc. that kids can use when they have free playdough time. I am pretty firm with procedures when we first start using playdough and my students know that if playdough is found in the carpet, they don't get it for a week. That may seem harsh but they take it seriously and make sure to follow the rules because the never want to lose playdough time.
I've had this fruit cutting set by Doug and Melissa for six years. You can find it on amazon and maybe in your teacher store or somewhere like Ross. Students match the fruit and vegetable pieces and put them together. Then they can use the wooden knife and cutting board to cut them up. This is a GREAT fine motor activity and can easily used in a home living center or just on your free choice shelf (which is where I keep mine).
Do you notice Mr. Potato Head's feet in this box. Man, that guy gets around. He's out of control. I am going to have to go into school tomorrow and gather his pieces, which are apparently all over the room. Haha!
Speaking of the naughty little fella, I have a HUGE Mr. Potato Head and two small ones. These were garage sale finds that I have had for several years and my students love them. I like to use him when teaching feelings, parts of the body and senses. They are part of my free choice shelf and a favorite all year.