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Occupational Therapy Tips For Parents in the Fast Lane

By Tiffany Showalter, MOTR/L, Occupational Therapist


Do you ever feel like you live in your car? Are you dashing to soccer practice, ballet classes and the baseball field while trying to fit in your home program for your child's fine motor skills? Well, by keeping a few simple items in your car or in your home, you can work with your child on hand strengthening, using both hands together, hand-eye coordination, grasp and in-hand manipulation. These skills are important building blocks for handwriting, cutting and other school related fine motor tasks. Try using a large Rubbermade container with a lid to hold the items to make them easily transportable.



Large piece of felt

Felt shapes

Plastic containers with lid, Kool Whip or margarine

Plastic jar with screw top lid

Jumbo pop beads

Bubble wrap

Large uncooked macaroni noodles


10 pennies

10 clothespins

Old magazine



  1. Place felt on vertical surface; for example, back of car seat or attached to wall. Let child make pictures and designs using cut out felt shapes. Good designs to try include making people, houses, etc.

  2. Remove the lids of the plastic containers. Have child pour macaroni noodle between the two containers, trying not to spill.

  3. Child removes and then replaces clothespins around the edge of the plastic container by pinching/squeezing the pins with their index finger and thumb.

  4. Pull apart and then assemble pop beads.

  5. Pinch bubble wrap between index finger and thumb to make popping sound.

  6. String the macaroni on a shoelace.

  7. Place lid on plastic container. Child picks up pennies one at a time to put into bank. Next, have child use only one hand to pick up approximately three pennies, one at a time, while continuing to hold each of them in that one hand. Next, have child place them into the bank one at a time without dropping.

  8. Tear pages out of an old magazine. To make it more difficult, tear out pictures of blue things or things that start with the letter A.

  9. 9.Place pennies and macaroni in jar. Remove screw top lid. Have child fish out the pennies or macaroni and place it into the other plastic container, leaving one in the container. If this is too difficult, only place macaroni in the jar and do not sort the items.

  10. 10. Tear strips out of the magazine, scrunch up using one hand, and then toss at the open plastic container to make a basket

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