Fine Motor Activities

Top 10 OT Fine Motor Tools Under 1$


Here is a list of my Top 10 Fine Motor Tools along with activities you can do with your little ones.

1. Clothes Pins


Therapeutic Benefit: Strengthens muscles used for a pincer grasp which is a precursor to a tripod grasp on writing utensils (the most efficient type of pencil grasp).

2. Stickers


Therapeutic Benefit: Stickers are small and delicate. They require children to use a neat pincer grasp with the tip of their fingers and to be gentle so as not to crumple the sticker (graded finger control)

  • Check my post on 8 ways to use stickers

3. Scissors


Therapeutic Benefit: the open and close motion of the hand against a resistive medium helps strengthen the same muscles of the hand that are used for handwriting. Cutting is also an excellent bilateral coordination activity because as one hand cuts with the scissors the other holds and moves the paper (active assist). Furthermore, cutting takes motor planning skills as to plan how to cut out a figure.

  • Cut straws to make a necklace
  • Make long playdoh hot dogs and snip
  • Cut along a maze or a road (great motor coordination activity)

4. Playdoh



Therapeutic Benefit: Great resistive  medium to strengthen little fingers.

  • Hide items in the dough and have children find them
  • Make a hot dog and cut it with a plastic knife or scissors
  • Stick golf tees and balance marbles
  • Stick dry spaghetti or skewers and string beads on them (you can do a pattern)
  • Roll out dough and used cookie cutters, rolling pins and cutting wheel
  • Make little balls with fingers and squeeze

5. Shoelaces

Therapeutic Benefit: These can be used to work on various fine motor skills. When holding the tip of the lace, children work on improving neat pincer grasp. This is an important part of dexterity.

  • Teach your child to tie shoelaces using 2 DIFFERENT colored laces
  • Make holes on card stock paper and use to teach lacing
  • Use for beading to make a necklace

6. Beads


Therapeutic Benefit: The small size of beads provides the opportunity to work on many fine motor skills that require neat pincer grasp. They can also be used for in-hand manipulation skills such as nesting and retrieving.

7. Push Pins


Therapeutic Benefits: These can help strengthen neat pincer grasp which in turn is a precursor to a tripod grasp with writing utensils.

  • Use push pins to poke around a shape
  • Use similar colors to match answers on a cork board
  • Poke on playdoh to practice making letters

8. Wikki Stix


Therapeutic Benefits: So many ways to meet therapeutic goals using wiki stic. Check out my post 10 Ways to Use Wikki Stix.

9. Tweezers

Therapeutic Benefits: This is another great way to strengthen muscles involved in neat pincers grasp which are also used to hold a pencil correctly during handwriting.

  • Pick up small items to sort
  • Pull out items from playdoh
  • Use during counting games to pick up items
  • Incorporate in an obstacle course ex: pick up item with tweezers, walk across a balance beam without dropping items.

10. Hole Puncher


Therapeutic Benefit: This is a good tool to strengthen muscles of the hand and also a great activity when teaching cutting skills because the hole puncher mimics the open/close motion of scissors.

  • Teach cutting complex figures by hole punching along the shape and cut through the holes.
  • Punch out holes from different colored construction paper and use the “confetti” to create a picture or write your name or then use a shoelace for “sewing”




Fine Motor Activities Gross Motor Activities Handwriting Sensory Activities Visual Perceptual Activities

Top Ten OT Things to do with: BALLOONS

You know I’m always looking for fun inexpensive and light ways (I travel to schools) to use children’s favorite toys and tools to teach important skills. Balloons are one of those magical items that makes every child rise to their feet and motivates them to participate!



Here are my TOP 10 + WAYS that I like using balloons!
1- Gross motor skills:
  • Play a version of Musical chairs by tapping balloons when music stops whoever doesn’t have a ballon sits out. Remove one balloon each time.
  • Great for eye-hand coordination and team building. Children tap the ballon to each other but it can’t touch floor.
  • Write letters on a balloon as children tap it to each other they must name a letter from the balloon or name the letter and a word that begins with that letter.
2- Bilateral Coordination:
  • Use balloons to work on bilateral arm and leg skills such as tapping the balloon with alternating hands or alternating feet.
  • Use chopsticks to have children pick up the balloons and walk over to a target where they have to drop them. You can increase the difficulty by adding a balance beam, items on the floor to step over, cones to go around! You cannot drop the balloon.
3- Sensory:
  • Dipping balloons in different colored paints and stamping them on paper makes beautiful Artwork (hint: keep balloons small) I love doing this activity with children that require simple activities as it requires very little skill but produces beautiful results.
  • Fill balloons using a funnel with rice, beans, flour, beads and use as a fidget toy or to improve hand strength as you squeeze or finger isolation as you squeeze with (the thumb )and one finger at a time. You can even blow them up and then shake as musical instruments!
  • Put shaving cream on a balloon and have children write their letters!
4- Drawing: Learn to draw a face. You can add paper feet so that it stays up!
5- Handwriting:
  • Have a balloon with letters written on it. Children Write a word for each letter. Or 2 children pick either the same letter.
  • Or 2 different letters and write as many words as possible for that one letter.
  • Write Who words on one balloon (nouns) and What words on another (actions). Children pick two words to make a fun sentence. Kids can also do this as a game by tapping the balloon to each other and each call out a word from one of the balloons. They then each have to make a sentence combining the words that they each called out.
6-Letter Concepts: Write upper case letters in a balloon,”. Ask children to match the lower case letter sticker to the correct letter.
7-Number Concept: Children pick 2 numbers on the balloon, write down the number sentence to add them up.
8-Reading/Spelling: This can be a fun way to learn spelling! Write your child’s spelling words on the balloon as they tap the balloon they pick a word and spell.
9- Visual Tracking Skills: Blow up a balloon do not tie it, let it go and children have to track where it lands. To make it more challenging, do 2 balloons at the same time!
10-Science: So many science activities involving sound, electrostatic E, blowing it up by using a solution of baking soda and vinegar, poking a ballon with a skewer without popping it, centrifugal force with a penny, power a lego car to move by letting the air out of a balloon…the possibilities are endless!!!20151022_162507-1
Gross Motor Activities Sensory Activities

Top 5 Activities for Children this Summer?

Parents have been asking me the same question over the past 2 weeks…Where do I sign up my child for the summer? What is the best camp or activity to involve them in? So I figured I would post my favorite Summer activities for children along with benefits of these activities to help you pick the best activity for your child.

You may want to sign up your children in a camp specializing in these activities or find classes in your community where children can try more than one of the following. I also recommend these throughout the year. I like when children can be involved in activities as part of their natural routine (when possible) rather than through conventional therapy.

My Top 5 Activities for Children:

1- Swimming:


I love recommending swimming for all its benefits. The water is a calming to the body. It is great for children that  need to work on core strength and bilateral coordination. Furthermore, the buoyancy of the water and its resistance provides a non- weight bearing medium to strengthen without hurting joints.

Living in Miami, many of my families have a pool. I recommend it as part of a weekly routine especially for children that need calming! (make sure you give them an activity to do not just splash around)

There are swim camps in our area. You can choose between formal swimming lessons to work on core and coordination or recreational swimming so kids can have fun in the water (my favorite 😉



This is one activity that I highly recommend for children that require more body awareness, coordination, strength, flexibility and balance. I find that boys and girls really enjoy gymnastics. I believe the teacher is key. I like working with a local gymnastics teacher that works with children with special needs at a regular studio. The combination of one-on-one classes and group class is best!

3-Team Sports:


My favorite thing about team sports is the social interaction and camaraderie that children get to experience. Many times I have to work on specific skills with children in my OT sessions so that they can then get involved in a specific team sport. (Talk to your OT about the sport you would like for your child so that you can build skills for improved participation). I like team sports for the obvious gross motor skills that children will work on. But as part of a team, I also like that children have to pay attention to other kids’ body language and that they build s sense of teamwork.



This is a great way to work on fine motor skills as well as express creativity with no right or wrong! This is wonderful for self-esteem (: Through crafts children strengthen little muscles of the hand that help improve dexterity and fine motor skills.

5-Martial Arts:


I like to recommend martial arts for children that need to improve attention, body awareness, balance, coordination and graded motor control. This activity works on gross motor skills but in a more disciplined/organized way. This requires children to pay attention and pay attention to their body movements and positions. This is great for children that do things too fast, need to slow down their motor output or need to learn to pay attention.



Going beyond Awareness


img_5556I have always been torn by the idea of Autism awareness or awareness of any other label for that matter. On the one hand, healing begins with awareness but on the other it can highlight separateness, us and them. Awareness is an important first step but we can’t stop there.

By learning about Autism we remove fear, we remove segregation, we remove labels that separate us and we realize how similar we all are. At the end of the day, we all want to be loved, we all want to be accepted for who we are, we all want our place in society, we all want to feel like we belong.

I pray every day that I get to witness a huge change in humanity where we begin to see from the eyes of soul. When we look at each other we see what unites us instead of what makes us different. We see don’t see disabilities but instead different abilities. We create the space in our society for every single person to have a chance to become a productive citizen no matter how small the contribution.
Children with Autism have taught me how to look beyond what is in front of me. They are my greatest teachers about life, about love, about authenticity. Although I cannot change the world, I can change myself. I know that we all have the choice to live from lack and fear or to live from love. Today I chose to live from love. So when you cross paths with a person with Autism or any other ability, choose to see them with eyes of love. From that space we are all one.


Hold Space for your Child

What do I mean by that? I’d like to recount a known story about Thomas Edison. (not sure if it’s a true story but it definitely drives the point home!)

As a young boy Edison came home one day and handed his mother a letter given to him by his teacher. She read it out loud to him: “Dear Mrs Edison, Your son is a genius. This school is too small for him and doesn’t have good enough teachers to train him. Please teach him yourself.” From that point on, he was home schooled by his mom. Years after she died, Edison found the letter his teacher had sent home and it actually read: “Your son is mentally deficient. We cannot let him attend our school anymore. He is expelled.” As we all know it, Thomas Edison grew up to become one of the greatest inventors of his time thanks to the space that his mom held for him!!!!

So, what do I mean by holding space for your child?! I mean envisioning your child in the highest light without setting any barriers and limitations and then holding that space for them in order to grow into the magnificent adults they are meant to become. It is also very powerful as a parent to recognize that the limitations we usually set on our children are in fact our own. By removing our own fears and limitations, we create and hold greater space for our children to flourish.

Let’s get practical:
1- Take 5 minutes of your day. Ideally when you wake up or just before going to bed to take a deep breath, close your eyes and envision your child as the most amazing version of themselves. Hold that vision and really feel how that would feel for you and for your child.

2- Awareness of our own limitations is the first step into creating and holding space for our child. Become aware of the words you say to your child. If some words you use are limiting then question the source of your own limited belief.


Where do we go from here?



These past few days my mind has been occupied by the mass shooting in Parkland, FL. Being that I live in Miami, it’s not difficult to come across someone that has been directly affected by this devastating event. I really wanted to write about this.

I can’t help but think what has our world come to? How can someone inflict so much pain? Where is our world headed to if we continue like this? What is the cause for the rise in mass shootings at schools? What can we do as a society to prevent this from happening again? What could I personally do?

This is a complex issue and no one action will solve it. Stricter gun laws is definitely one piece of the puzzle. However we must all take responsibility and do our part with ourselves, our own children and families.

When I think of this young man who shot so many classmates, I can feel compassion for a soul that has not been surrounded by love and acceptance. Please don’t misread. I am not condoning his behavior and there are no guarantees that surrounding a child with love and acceptance will prevent violent behavior but I can’t imagine that this young man was surrounded by loving parents, accepting friends, caring teachers, solid grounded examples of people in his life and then decides to shoot up a school.

As parents and caretakers our responsibility is to heal ourselves so that we can help heal our children and have more to offer them. Our responsibility is to make time for our children. We have to stay connected and keep them connected to the family and to their community. We must teach children kindness and compassion for others from a young age and lead by example. Say hello to your neighbors, bring that soup when someone is sick!

The world is very different for our children from when we grew up. As a young child I spent my time outside with the neighborhood kids. Nowadays children are more isolated because of the unsafe nature of letting them outdoors unsupervised and the increased use of electronics that not only desensitize children to violence but also keep them isolated and disconnected from others.

As care takers of children we must take the time to know all our children and their families. Know which ones have a difficult family life and how they spend their time outside of school. This is not about spying. It’s about truly caring and communicating. Our schools need to have programs for children to help them connect to each other. Communities need to create activities to give back as a neighborhood. The sense of belonging is a powerful healer.

I don’t have all the answers on such a complex issue but what I do know for sure is that love heals and when one heals we all heal. It’s time to connect and care!


Autism Advice

The Power of Unconditional Love


When I ask parents What has Autism taught you? They almost always answer “Unconditional Love” (and “patience”!!!). The very first step in raising a child with or without Autism is to realize that they are perfect as they are. As a parent, you are not here to fix them. You are here to understand them and guide them to become the best version of themselves.

I was once asked by a therapist. So what’s your magic to working with children with Autism?! My answer… Unconditional Love. I shower so much Light on the children that I work with. I accept them as they are. I genuinely enjoy my time with them. This love HEALS!

This is not to say that we don’t work on skills. We work very hard on learning new skills! But I help children learn at their pace, I meet them where they’re at. My agenda is their agenda. I challenge them and help them feel successful. I teach, I guide and I expose them to different experiences. I don’t fix them.


The personal work we need to do when working with children is that they do not need to change in order to satisfy us! The message needs to be: You do not need to stop flapping your hands, you do not need to stop acting differently than peers, you do not need to be someone that you are not in order for me to love you!


Humanity is in need of a tremendous shift! A shift that sees from eyes of love instead of being blinded by the outer shell that our souls inhabit! If we could only see with eyes of soul, we would realize that children with Autism are the true Masters! They are the special souls that have come to be powerful teachers of unconditional love and acceptance! And you as their parent have been chosen to become their voice! Start with loving and raising your child from this place of non-condition so that together we shift the vision for all.


Let’s get practical:

How to practice unconditional love in a practical way?

  • Spend time with your child. Really just spend time enjoying each others presence. Zero expectations. Just enjoying a moment. And if that means stimming together so be it! 


2- Understand behaviors rather than fixing them. Question everything your child does with the goal of understanding them. Why do they rock? why do they have meltdowns? why do they repeat what I say?….why? why? Why? For ex: if your child is repeating the same sentence over and over again, instead of using a behavioral approach to eliminating this behavior and telling then to be quiet, try instead to figure out why your child is doing that?! Most likely it’s to reduce anxiety and your goal is to then figure out and reduce the source of the anxiety and not the OUTLET that your child has chosen to reduce this anxiety. Go to the source.


3- Enjoy your child!!!! Lighten up, have fun, find the humor. Most of the time, parents are all wound up and the child is happy and smiling. I am not minimizing that things can get very challenging but I can also see how parents have their guards up so high that they can’t appreciate their child as the sweet, loving, wonderful being that they are.



New Year, New Attitude (of Gratitude)


“Become a better parent, a more patient parent.” “Raise happier more conscious children” “ Spend more quality time with my child”…Sounds familiar?…New Year resolutions 2018! The world has become so busy and chaotic that now more than ever parents feel the need to instill solid values and life skills to raise happy, healthy, mindful, grounded families.

Let’s make 2018 the year that we live from inspired action! Every month I will send out a newsletter to help you find practical ways to achieve this goal…Ready?! Together let’s get happy!

We begin with GRATITUDE. Teaching children to be grateful contributes to their overall sense of well-being and fosters happiness. Gratitude helps children connect to something greater than themselves such as nature, people or a higher power. By expressing gratitude children feel more positive emotions, appreciate experiences and build more meaningful relationships.


As part of my own personal morning routine, I have been keeping a Gratitude List with 10 friends for the last 2 years. Every morning we email each other what we are grateful for. It is a life changing experience and attracts more things to be grateful for. Here are a few kid-friendly ways to express Gratitude.

1-Spend time in nature. Children may sometimes find it difficult to express something they are grateful. By spending time in nature they can become grateful for the warmth of the sun, for a cool breeze, for the smell of flowers etc…which is ALWAYS available to them.

2- Create a Daily Gratitude Journal. Children can keep a journal where they are encouraged to write 5 things each day that they are grateful for. For younger children, they can draw a picture. You can use this link to download a cute GRATITUDE  activity.

3-Create a Family ritual. Either at the dinner table or in bed, take the time to have children share the best part of their day.

4-Encourage them to give back by volunteering as a family. This helps raise children’s awareness to others who are less fortunate than they are. Thinking about others teaches them to be grateful for the life that they have. Ex: animal shelters, food banks, raise money for local charities by selling Lemonade.

5-Model gratitude. Become a living example to your child. Genuinely say “Thank you” to others.

6- Send “Thank You” cards. When children receive a gift from friends and family, take the time to write thank you cards to express gratitude.

7- Read books. Take the time to read books and share stories with your children about children of the world. Opening their eyes to how other children live their lives teaches them to be grateful for the ease in their lives.


MFC Lecture: The Sensory Approach to Maximizing Students’ Potential

Last weekend I was grateful to take part in the yearly Montessori Florida Coalition 2-day event which gathered speakers from various industries to discuss important topics in today’s educational system. Here is the Power Point that I presented!



Fine Motor Activities

Fine Motor ABC


I recently reviewed a book sent to me by the author Stacie Erfle, MS, OTR/L. It has lots of simple and fun activities with great visuals to help your child strengthen their fine motor skills. The book is alphabet themed, so each letter of the alphabet represents a different activity beginning with that letter! I promised to test drive it…Here are some way that I use the book and the kids love it!

1- Whatever letter of the Alphabet I am working on that day, I ask the children to open to that letter and we do the corresponding activity.

2- Child opens up to each letter of their name and we do those activities

3- I made a spinner with all the letters of the alphabet. We play a game where the child spins the wheel and whatever letter they fall on is the activity we have to do.

You can purchase on Amazon. Enjoy!


Miss Mancy Videos

The Sensory Approach to Learning

This is my favorite time of the year!!! Back to school!!!

I get to do what I love the most! Giving workshops to all the wonderful teachers that I work with! Here’s a little snippet of my workshop. You can view all the slides by following this link.

Here are some things you can do to create Sensory Smart Classrooms:

Classroom Organization:

1.Set up your classroom in stations and make sure you have a quiet area where kids can calm and regroup if needed when the class gets too loud.

2.Make sure the quiet area has lots of book, heavy blankets, pillows, bean bags, earphones, soft music, fidget toys.

3.Provide fidget toys such as tactile balls, “stress” balls.

4.Use visual schedules at the beginning of class that “maps” out the children’s day. This helps kids transition more easily from one activity to the next and keeps them more organized.

Classroom Activities:

1.Use songs to help children transition such as “Clean up…clean up…” or flick the lights.

2.Make sure your schedule allows for movement breaks as well as table-top activities. Brain Breaks are great.

3.During circle time. Keep the children that have a harder time keeping still next to you or make sure you give them something to hold like a puppet. Give them a fidget toy to hold on to or even a weighted lap pad. You can also have them sit against a wall.

4.Try to plan activities that incorporate as many sensory components as possible. Ex: finger paint on textured surfaces.

5.You can begin all table-top activities with a little “chair exercise” program that allows all the children to get their state of arousal at the same level. Ex: prior to commencing a handwriting task. Sing a song with the children that wakes up the arms, legs, stretches etc…

6.Consider having a “treasure box” with a variety of sensory toys. You can send a child to pick a sensory toy that helps them calm and become centered/organized. Ex: Put stress balls, fidget toys, body brush, lotion, etc…

7.Make a “bean bag snake” using a sock and dried beans. The over-aroused child can put it on his shoulders or lap to help calm during circle time or at table-top.

8.Outdoor activities are an all around wonderful sensory experience.


1.For children who need to calm, use deep pressure such as pressure with your hands to his/her shoulders

2.Another great way to calm is to give a child heavy resistive work to do ex: carry heavy books to the table, push/pull heavy cart.

3.For children who need increased arousal, have them do a few jumping jacks, wall push ups etc… or use light touch from your finger tips to awaken their senses.

4.For children who touch other peers during circle time, consider sitting them against a wall or bookshelf for extra grounding and trunk support, give them a fidget toy to hold.

5.Touching others can be an indication that the child needs input to their hands and body. It can also be a spatial awareness or body awareness challenge. Give input to the hands by brushing the child’s hands, play with playdoh/other resistive toys, clap hands. I also use the one arm rule to teach personal space.

6.For a child who has difficulty transitioning from one activity to the next, allow him/her to hold on to an object that they like (aka.  A transitioning object) This helps them stay organized during the transition. You can also assign a task to the child such as “helper” (ex: he holds the cards you will be using and brings them to circle time)

Have fun implementing these strategies and let me know how it goes!


Best Trick to Teach Writing Letters

Back to School is around the corner and it’s already here for some of our kids! Miss Mancy is back to school to and ready to get back into blogging!

I love sharing tricks of the trade to teachers, therapists and care takers. Now that back to school is here, let’s focus on strategies you can implement at school and at home for your children.

When teaching writing letters, I feel that the school system teaches children handwriting at a very young age. There is a developmental sequence to follow but unfortunately it is not taught that way in many school curriculums.


Here’s an EASY, SIMPLE and EXTREMELY EFFECTIVE trick you can use when teaching letter-writing. Ready for this?……Draw a BOX! Yes! You heard me. Draw a box where you want the child to write or copy a letter.

That simple! The box provides a frame and immediately helps children with forming (where to start, visualizing direction for diagonals etc…) and sizing!

Try it! TRUST me. You can provide a child with a blank page and ask them to write their name (or copy their name) and then provide boxes for each letter in their name and see the difference!

Sensory Activities

Halloween Fun in the Kitchen

Here are some of my favorite Halloween recipes to make with kids!

1-Spooky Popcorn Hands

You Will Need:

  • Candy Corn
  • Gummy worms
  • Microwave Popcorn
  • Clear gloves
  • Plastic spider rings
  • Spooky Plastic spiders
  • Rubber bands

The Activity:

Place popcorn bag in the microwave and cook according to directions. Ask an adult to open the bag of popcorn and empty it out into a bowl to cool off

Put one candy corn in each of the fingers of the glove to create fingernails

Fill the glove with popcorn and little spiders


Tie on the other end with a rubber band


Place a spider ring on one of the fingers



2-Decorate Mummy Cupcakes

You Will Need:

  • Chocolate cupcakes (we made ours using cake mix)
  • White frosting
  • Ziploc baggies
  • m&ms
  • sugar eyes
  • fruit loops

The Activity:

Put White frosting in a plastic bag and cut a little tip on the end of the bag.


Create a zig zag pattern on the cupcake by squeezing the bag

Add candy for eyes. We experimented with different types of candies.



3-Hot Dog Mummies

I have made these 2 years in a row with the kids and they LOOOOVE them!!!!

You Will Need:

  • Beef, chicken, turkey or Veggie Hot dogs
  • Crescent dough
  • Sliced American cheese
  • Cooking spray
  • Mayonnaise
  • Sugar eye balls
  • Knife

The Activity:

Step 1: Unroll dough; separate at perforations.

Step 2: With knife, cut each triangle into long strips. Don’t worry it doesn’t have to be perfect.


Step 3: Slice cheese slices into 3


Step 4: Place a small slice of cheese on the hot dog and use a strip of dough to wrap it along the length of the hot dog.


Step 5: On a large cookie sheet, place wrapped hot dogs cheese side down.


Step 6: Bake 13 to 17 minutes or until dough is light golden brown and hot dogs are hot.


Step 7: Once completely cool, put a little squeeze of mayonnaise (use like “glue”)at the top of the hot dog and “stick” on 2 sugar eye balls!!!



Fine Motor Activities Sensory Activities

Halloween Spooky Crafts

I always love Holidays with fun themes and Halloween is definitely one of my favorites. Here are a few activities and crafts you can try with your little ones.

1-Skeleton Hands

This is a very easy activity that i have done with children of various ages.

You Will Need:

  • Black card stock paper
  • White paint
  • Paint Brush
  • Q-tips
  • Scissors
  • White glue

The Activity:

Begin by placing a blank paper in front of your child. Using white paint, cover their entire forearm and fingers.


Create an imprint of their hand and forearm on the blank paper


Then use Q-tips and white glue to stick on the “bones”.



For older children you can have them cut the Q-tips to create a more accurate representation of the skeleton of the hand!


2-Cotton Ghosts

You Will Need:

  • Ghost cut outs from black card stock paper
  • Eyes and mouth cut outs from card stock paper
  • White glue
  • Cotton balls

The Activity:

Each child gets a cut out of a ghost. If your children are strong enough, have them use white glue in a bottle to squeeze out the glue on the cotton ball and place it on the ghost.


For those children that do not have the finger strength, I have tried putting white glue on a plate and have them dip the cotton into the glue but that became very messy. Most children either put too much glue or some put their entire hands in the glue thinking it was paint. The best way to do it is, that you help them squeeze out glue to cover the entire ghost and then have them cover the ghost with cotton balls.


Once the ghost is covered in cotton, glue on eyes and a mouth!



3- Toilet Paper Roll Mummies

You Will Need:

  • Toilet paper roll
  • Black paint
  • White glue and a paintbrush
  • strips of white paper towels
  • 2 wiggle eyes

The Activity:

Paint the toilet paper roll with black paint and allow it to dry completely.

Begin by having children cover the bottom half of the toilet paper roll with white glue using the paintbrush.


Using strips of white crepe paper, start sticking them from the bottom of the roll and twisting upwards.


Use glue to cover the top half of the roll and continue sticking crepe paper to cover the entire roll.


4- Toilet Paper Roll Bats

You Will Need:

  • Toilet paper roll
  • Black paint and paintbrush
  • Wings cutout from black card stock paper
  • Ear cutout from black card stock paper
  • Teeth cutout from white card stock paper
  • Wiggle eyes
  • White glue

The Activity:

Paint the toilet paper roll with black paint and set aside.

Cut out wings and ears from card stock paper.


Glue on wings and ears

Glue on wiggle eyes and teeth


Glue on some wiggle eyes!

5-Dot Painting Bats

You Will Need:

  • Yellow, orange, and white paint
  • Printable bat sheet (I found this on line
  • Painters tape 

The Activity:

Begin by cutting out 3 bats and stick them on a black piece of construction paper using painter’s tape.


Provide paints and a pencil for each child.

Use the eraser part of a pencil to dip into yellow paint.


Make dots all over the paper, with special focus on the edge of each bat


Repeat for each color

Carefully remove the bat to create a shadow.


This creates an awesome bat scene!


6- Potato Pumpkins

You Will Need:

  • Potatoes
  • Knife
  • Orange paint
  • Green paint
  • White card stock paper

The Activity:

Create a pumpkin face by carving a potato


Use orange paint to make stamps on thick card stock paper.


Draw green stems






Miss Mancy Videos Sensory Activities

Creating a Sensory Smart Classroom

As an OT I get the opportunity to visit many schools in South Florida. Teachers ask me all the time how to implement sensory components in their classrooms. Here is a list of a few suggestions:

 10 steps



1-       Try to plan activities that incorporate as many sensory components as possible. Ex: finger paint on textured surfaces.

2-       For children who need to calm, use deep pressure such as pressure with your hands to his/her shoulders.

3-       For children who need increased arousal, have them do a few jumping jacks, wall push ups etc… or use light touch from your finger tips or a feather to awaken their senses.

4-       For children who touch other peers during circle time, consider sitting them against a wall or bookshelf for extra grounding and trunk support, give them a fidget toy to hold.

5-       Touching others can be an indication that the child needs tactile input to his hands. You can brush the child’s hands, have him play with playdoh/other resistive mediums, play hand clapping games, crawling or wheelbarrow walking,

6-    You can begin all table-top activities with a little “chair exercise” program that allows all the children to get their state of arousal at the same level. Ex: prior to commencing a handwriting task. Sing a song with the children that wakes up the arms, legs, stretches etc…

7-     Consider having a “treasure box” with a variety of sensory toys. You can send a child to pick a sensory toy that helps them calm and become centered/organized. Ex: Put stress balls, fidget toys, body brush, lotion, etc…

8-    Make a “bean bag snake” using a sock and dried beans. The over-aroused child can put it on his shoulders or lap to help calm during circle time or at table-top.

9-    Another great way to calm is to give a child heavy resistive work to do ex: carry heave books to the table, push/pull heavy cart.

10- Outdoor activities are an all around wonderful sensory experience.

Here’s a few more tips:

Classroom Organization:

1-       Set up your classroom in stations and make sure you have a quiet area where kids can calm and regroup if needed when class get too loud.

2-       Make sure the quiet area has lots of book, heavy blankets, pillows. Bean bags, earphones.

3-       Provide fidget toys such as tactile balls, “stress” balls.

4-       Use visual schedules at the beginning of class that “maps” out the children’s day. This helps kids transition more easily from one activity to the next and can keep them more organized.

5-       For a child who has difficulty transitioning from one activity to the next, allow him/her to hold on to an object that they like (aka.  A transitioning object) This helps them “keep it together” during the transition. You can also assign a task to the child such as “helper” (ex: he holds the cards you will be using and brings them to circle time)

6-       Use songs to help children transition such as “Clean up…clean up…”

7-       Make sure your schedule allows for movement breaks as well as table-top activities.

8-       During circle time. Keep the children that have a harder time keeping still next to you or make sure you give them something to hold like a puppet. Or give them a fidget toy to hold on to or even a weighted lap pad.

Sensory Activities

Balloon Collage

Beautiful, fun and easy activity for children of all skill levels.

You will Need:

  • White card stock paper
  • cutouts from magazines (people animals etc…)
  • Thin black marker
  • Large Stencil in the shape of a balloon (I created these from construction paper)
  • Scissors
  • stick glue
  • Tempra paints in several colors
  • Round sponge brush or just use your fingers

The Activity:

Find cutouts of people, animals and interesting items in magazines. Cut them out.

Paste one of these small pictures at the bottom of the white paper.

Cut out the shape of a balloon on a different piece of construction paper.


Use painter’s tape to stick the balloon shaped stencil on top of the white card stock that has the magazine picture on it. Make sure the stencil covers the magazine picture so that paint will not touch it.

Have children dip their thumbs in different colored paints and stamp the inside of the stencil. Our younger kids just painted with their fingers.


Once dry, remove the stencil to reveal what looks like lots of balloons. Use a thin black sharpie to draw ballon strings so that it looks like the magazine item is holding the balloons.


Sensory Activities

Colorful Cornstarch Ice Painting

You Will Need:

  • Cornstarch
  • Water
  • Liquid water color
  • Ice trays
  • Popsicle sticks



Put 3/4 cup of cornstarch in a bowl and add a few drops of liquid watercolor. Mix.

THEN Add 1/2 cup of water. (Use a ratio of 1 part water to 1.5 parts cornstarch). Mix.

Pour into ice cubes and put a popsicle stick in each cube. Put in the freezer overnight.



I have done this activity several times, with children of all abilities and all ages. I have to admit this…it looks like a beautiful, fun activity but the kids really do not enjoy it as much as I thought they would!!!!

Place a blank piece of paper in a tray and let children paint freely!


I even tried covering a piece of paper with oil before painting with the ice but still no luck! )Let each child brush oil over a blank piece of paper before painting with the ice cubes.


Not giving up on this one just yet!!! The results are too pretty!


I think I will try it outdoors in the summer as a group project on a large mural!


Sensory Activities

Magnetic Wand Painting

Here is a really fun activity that mixes art and science!

You Will Need:

  • Magnetic wands (available on Amazon)
  • Metallic items (washers, bolts, screws, paper clips)
  • Tempra paints
  • White Card stock paper
  • Painters tape

The activity:

Stick a piece of paper to the table for each child. Prepare  shallow paint dishes with different colored paints and place metallic items in each of the containers of paint.


Have children pick up the metallic items using the magnetic wand and drop them on the paper.


Drag the metallic items across the paper using the magnet.


The kids were mesmerized by this activity!



Sensory Activities

Spring Flower Painting

I saw this idea on line at and decided to give it a try with my Messy Art group. I love activities that combine a variety of senses. The smell of the flowers and the bright paint colors is a great way to welcome inSpring. It was a great success with my little ones. We even features this project at our first Art Show!


You Will Need:

  • Fresh Flowers
  • Tempra paints
  • Paper plates
  • Card stock paper
  • Ruler

The Activity:

Begin by providing each child with a piece of card stock paper and fresh cut flowers. Let them play with the flowers, smell them, pull the petals.


Put one color of paint in each paper plate and spread it out. (Don’t put too much paint)

Have children dip their flowers in the paint and stamp them across their paper, or twirl them or use the flower as a paintbrush!


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While the paint is still a little wet, use one of the paint colors and squeeze out one line vertically down the edge of the page.


Use a ruler to drag the paint across the paper. If you feel you need more paint to drag all the way across the page, add another vertical line down the middle of the page.


Simple and beautiful!






Sensory Activities

Painted Salt Structures

You Will Need:

  • Sandcastle molds
  • 3 cups of salt
  • 3 teaspoons of Water
  • Liquid water colors or food coloring mixed with water
  • Thin paint brushes and small eye droppers


Mix the salt and water well, until it appears damp and crumbly.

Pour it into the sandcastle mold a little bit at a time and press hard to compact it. Continue adding the salt mixture and press down until you get to the top.

Allow it to dry completely. (We left for one week based on our class schedule)


Flip it over carefully.


Paint it using watercolors or diluted food coloring using a paint brush or eye droppers. Be gentle and don’t paint over and over in the same spot. It will make the salt melt.


Once painted, allow the structure to dry another 12 hours.


The kids absolutely loved this project!


Sensory Activities

Partner Painting

You Will Need:

  • Washable Paints in blue, red and yellow
  • Sponge brush
  • Covered Table with paper or garbage bag

The Activity:

I wanted to do a messy activity with the children that allowed them full control of the paint. Many times, I try to get them to follow one or 2 simple steps to an activity but this time I wanted to allow the creative flow. We paired up children two by two and painted on 2 different primary colors on one each one’s hand.


They then shook hands with each other to reveal a whole new color! The children loved it.


Once that step was completed, they went wild painting freely on the covered table, mixing as many colors as they wanted, with or without paintbrushes. We had them place  a piece of white paper on top of their paint mix to make a stamp of their beautiful expression.


Fine Motor Activities Sensory Activities

Chevron Wall Art

I tried this activity that I found on with one of my 10 year-old students with ASD. The hardest part was putting the tape, however the rest requires minimal skills. It was an absolute success. It makes a beautiful gift just on time for Valentine’s Day!

You Will Need:

  • Canvas
  • Acrylic Paints in bright colors
  • White Acrylic paint
  • A paintbrush
  • Wide Painters Tape

The Activity:

You will need to do this activity in 2 parts since the first part has to dry completely before completing the second part.

First, begin by having children paint the entire canvas in stripes.


Use different colored paints and let it dry completely.


Then cut 2.5 inch pieces of painters tape and cover the dried canvas in a chevron pattern. Push down well on all corners.


Paint the entire canvas with white acrylic paint. You can choose to do 2 coats and let dry completely. Next time i’d like to try this with silver or gold paint!


Peel off the tape to reveal a beautiful art piece!


Sensory Activities

Sweet Hearts Edible Paint

You Will Need:

  • Plain Yoghurt
  • Liquid Kool Aide
  • Food coloring (optional)
  • Heart Cutouts White Card Stock
  • Trays (optional)
  • Sponge Brushes (optional)

The Activity:


Valentine’s Day is around the corner and we wanted the kids to have fun painting hearts and really not worrying about the final product. These hearts definitely have to be thrown out after the activity!

First prepare the edible paints by mixing yoghurt and a few drops of Kool-Aide. For brighter colors you can also add in a few drops of food coloring. If you use vanilla yoghurt, the children will most likely spend their time licking their hands and fingers. (it is what happened the first time I tried this activity). It’s great when you want picky eaters to explore a new food. This time I used plain yoghurt and most children did not even attempt to taste it!!!! It’s your choice.

You begin by placing a tray in front of each child, a heart cutout and a sponge brush. The children in my messy art class like to touch the supplies even before hearing the instructions so I only give out the paints once everyone is sitting.

The kids used sponges and their fingers to paint the heart. These edible paints were quite a success. It exposed the children to the scent of yoghurt, the cold touch of this medium and the smoothness on their fingers.

Autism Advice

Can’t Sit Stillllll!


I can’t begin to tell you how many times I hear teachers and parents who call me for advice to help a child that can’t sit still in the classroom. They ask me to create a Sensory Diet for this child (i.e a set of activities and tools incorporated several times a day in the child’s routine). I do believe in the benefits of a Sensory Diet however, I am VERY aware of its limitations as well. This is by NO means the magic bullet! A Sensory Diet is NOT A REPLACEMENT FOR AN ACTIVE OUTDOOR LIFESTYLE! One that provides children with the opportunity to run, jump, roll, climb, fall etc… (all important components of developing a healthy vestibular and proprioceptive system) I in fact believe that providing them with a Sensory Diet sets up these children for failure and greater frustration to the child AND caretakers! When a Sensory Diet falls short (which it almost always does), we then raise our hands to the sky and we say…”We’ve tried everything!” as though this child is now hopeless.

Children need to MOVE in order to LEARN and furthermore, they need to be OUTDOORS in NATURE, a natural environment where they touch, smell, taste, observe their world.They do not need to be entertained but rather learn to use what is out there in nature to play, create and use their imagination! Otherwise, what we begin to see are children that don’t know how to play alone, keep themselves busy, they fidget, tune out, disrupt the class by talking or getting up and they are singled out as having an issue.

When I observe classrooms, I often wonder  how is it that the children who “behave” are not the ones that are singled out! They ARE CHILDREN! They are SUPPOSE to move, test boundaries, become excited and express it with their bodies! What we need in the schools (and at home) is NOT more academics, more homework more sitting (or even standing) to learn. We do not need to incorporate a Sensory Diet 3 times a day for 15/20min (an added burden to teachers and busy parents). What we need is for children to play and learn OUTSIDE as much as possible! They have a lifetime ahead of them for academics but only a short time to be children!

I encourage parents to push for longer recess, more frequent PE, classroom lessons that incorporate real life experience such as going outside or field trips and hands-on teaching methods.

Sensory Activities

Sensory Snow

Living in Florida, many children don’t have the experience of playing with snow. Being that I grew up in Montreal, Canada, I know all about snow and would love to share that experience with my kids. Through the years, I have I have tried many Snow Sensory Bins. This is HANDS DOWN the best Snow Recipe! I don’t know the science behind it but it gets COOL to the touch!!!!


This is one of my favorite sensory activities. The children can play for hours! Since everyone is obsessed with Frozen movie, they wanted to make Olaf the snowman! I have also used this recipe and had children spray the snow with a mixture of water/paint to make rainbow snow!


You Will Need:

  • White Hair Conditioner (I used coconut scented, to make it “Florida Snow”)
  • Baking Soda
  • Dry spaghetti for arms
  • Mini carrots for nose
  • Wiggle eyes
  • pop corn kernels for buttons

Note: You can ask use Shaving cream instead of hair conditioner but I prefer the scent selection of hair conditioner.


Mix 3 cups of baking soda to ½ cup of hair conditioner. You can change the proportions if you’d like.

Use wiggle eyes for the eyes, a carrot for the nose, spaghetti for the arms (some made hair) and pop corn kernels for buttons.



Sensory Activities

Reindeer Sandwiches

I am always looking for easy to make activities for my cooking class. This one was easy and such a hit with the kids and with me….I can’t resist anything that has Nutella on it!

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You Will Need:

Sliced Bread
Nutella or Peanut butter
White icing
Red m&ms or Skittles for the nose
Brown m&ms for the eyes
Small pretzels
Heart Shaped cookie cutter


Place to slices of bread in front of your child and use the heart-shaped cookie cutter to cut out 2 hearts.

Spread Nutella on one heart

Place the second heart on top to create a sandwich

Place 2 pretzels on either side of the top of the heart to create reindeer antlers

Use a dot of icing on the brown candy and stick it on the heart to make eyes

Use a dot of icing on the red candy and stick it on the heart to make a nose

These are fun and delicious!!!! I love this one because it looks like my puppy <3

Sensory Activities

Rubber Bands Snap Painting 3 Ways

This is a very messy activity. Be prepared for paint to splatter but the results are beautiful.

You Will Need:

  • 3 white card stock paper
  • Rubber bands
  • Tray
  • Tempra Paints
  • Paint brush

The Activity:

Place a dozen rubber bands around a tray. This works beautifully on your child’s thenar muscle strength as well as bilateral coordination.

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Slip in a blank sheet of paper inside the tray.


Use a paintbrush to dab paint across each rubber band.


Remove the blank sheet of card stock paper from the tray and replace by a blank sheet of white card stock paper.


Use the back of a clean paintbrush (or pencil) to flick the rubber bands and splatter the paint! (If you wish to minimize the mess of the splatter, create a shield with a cardboard box.

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Carefully remove the painting and place another clean card stock paper ON TOP of the rubber bands and press down to create another painting.

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Three beautiful Messy masterpieces! Love it!

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Sensory Activities

Sensory Fun with Fruit Pizza

I started a new cooking class  called Little Chefs as part of the Miss Mancy’s Fall Curriculum at the Social Mind Center. The idea is to expose children to a variety of foods, smells, textures and tastes. This is especially helpful for children that are picky eaters. Since our focus at SMC is Social Communication, we utilize this class to teach important social skills during the group interaction as well as teaching children how to host a play date!

For our first class, we made beautiful fruit pizzas!

You Will Need:

  • One medium size watermelon
  • Berries
  • Grapes
  • Melons (1/4 inch slices)
  • cookie cutters

Each child began by cutting out shapes from different melon. It helps if the melon is not cut too thick so that the cookie cutters can cut threw easily.

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We sliced the grapes and the strawberries.

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Each child got a one-inch ROUND slice of watermelon and they were then free to decorate their fruit pizzas with their favorite fruits.

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Therapy Corner:

You would be surprised to see how challenging this activity can be for children who do not enjoy getting messy. The wet texture of the fruit was a challenge to many but they went along with it and asked to wipe their hands several times. I placed paper towels next to each of them and didn’t make a big deal out of it but reminded them that it’s ok to get dirty, we will wash up at the end.

The aroma of the fruit was wonderful to some but overwhelming to others! This is great exposure to foods that they would otherwise never touch!!!

I didn’t want the children using knives for the first class until I get to see their safety awareness, so the use of cookie cutters makes this activity activity appropriate even for little ones.

The results are beautiful and the children enjoyed sharing their pizzas with staff and parents!

Sensory Activities

4 Really Cool Art Projects for all Skill Levels

Once a week, I work at the Social Mind Center where I teach several classes of Messy  Art. The challenge is to find art projects for children with very different skill sets. The following activities were a great success with children at our center. I hope you enjoy and send me feedback and pictures!!!!


1- Snack Painting

Who doesn’t love snacks?! For very young children that put everything in their mouths, I like to use edible paints but trust me, the appeal was just as great for older children. Just make sure to check with parents regarding food allergies and restrictions. Depending on the ingredients you choose, this activity can have lots of SUGAR!!!!

You Will Need:

  • White card stock paper
  • Condensed milk (For children that are Gluten Free use heavy cream)
  • Several colors of Food Coloring
  • Popcorn
  • Marshmallows (For children that are Gluten Free leave this ingredient out)


 The Activity:

This is as simple as it gets. Mix a few drops of food coloring with condensed milk. Set out bowls of popcorn and marshmallows as well as white card stock paper and let the fun begin!


Children dip snacks into the “paint” and stamp it on their paper…watch the snacks disappear in no time!


Therapy Corner:

I love crafts that involve food. Many children (and especially those with ASD and SPD) are picky eaters. Using food and art is a great way to expose them to food that they would otherwise never even touch! This is a first step in the right direction.

2- Oil Pastels with a Twist

A new twist on a regular coloring activity!

You Will Need:

  • White Cardstock paper
  • Oil Pastels
  • 1/3 cup of baby oil (or any cooking oil will do)
  • 5-6 Cotton balls

 The Activity:

Place a tray or cover the working surface with plastic such as a garbage bag! Ask children to use oil pastels to draw a colorful picture. For this class I had them draw Kandinsky Circles.


For some, this was difficult so they drew colorful flowers. The important thing is to have a variety of colors.


Once the drawing is complete, children dip a cotton ball into a little bit of oil and spread it in ONE direction across the drawing.


This will spread the colors and create a cool effect! Let it dry completely.


Therapy Corner:

This activity is simple yet for children with tactile sensitivities, it can be quite challenging. It gets dirty, oily and slippery!


3- Sticker Art

Here’s a really great way to create a beautiful project with minimal skills needed. I like to use this activity for holiday gifts.

 You Will Need:

  • Small Canvas
  • Variety of Foam Stickers
  • Acrylic/Tempra Paint
  • Sponge brushes and regular paint brushes
  • Blow Dryer/Fan (if you want the painting to be ready that same day)

 The Activity:

Ask children to peel and stick stickers on their canvas. You can have them create a theme ex: Ocean Animals or provide them with letters to create a message to mom for Mother’s Day or create their name for a cool painting they can hang in their rooms!


Use a sponge brush and different colored paints to paint over the entire surface of the canvas (Paint over the stickers too, you may need a little paintbrush to get into the crevices of the stickers). Blow dry the painting on cold setting just enough so the stickers can be peeled off without leaving streaks. Tada! Beautiful Art!


Therapy Corner:

Peeling stickers is a great way to work on neat pincer grasp i.e. thumb and index finger working to peel the stickers. This is an important precursor to an efficient pencil grasp and to improve dexterity.

4- Rainbow Oobleck Art!

Ready to get dirty?!! This is a fun twist on oobleck. This really gets messy so get ready for it!

You will Need:

  • White Cardstock paper
  • 2 cups of corn starch
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1-2 drops of food coloring
  • Large bin

The Activity:

I created several bowls of different colored oobleck. The ingredients are quite simple but you will find it difficult to mix. Just be patient. You may start out with a wooden spoon but eventually you will need to mix it with your hands.


Note: I prepared this activity 30 minutes before my kiddos showed up, the oobleck hardens and looks like wet cement! All you have to do is mix it up once again and it liquefies!!!!


In a large bin I had each child pour in one of the colored ooblecks. We gently swirled it with a spoon to create a cool pattern and each child had a chance to dip in a sheet of paper to reveal a beautiful rainbow creation! I did not send this project home! Instead, we took pictures of these beautiful masterpieces.

It was then time to have some fun with this fascinating medium! The kids looooved it!


Therapy Corner:

Oobleck is quite a challenging medium to play with. For those of you who never felt it before, it’s a liquid that solidifies and then returns to a liquid consistency when mixed. It almost feels like wet chalk! For children with tactile sensitivities, this is quite the challenge. There are so many different sensations when using this medium. It feels wet but also can feel hard and chalky and if it dries on the hands it then feels powdery! Pretty cool!

Autism Advice

Innovative Classroom Strategies- A Proactive Approach to Early Intervention

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I just finished putting together the Teacher’s Workshop that I will be giving this week. Click here for the the Power Point Slides! Enjoy!

Fine Motor Activities

14 Most Effective Tools to Add to Classroom Stations


Working in the schools for many years, I see that teachers have less and less time to work one-on-one with a child that has fine motor difficulties. I therefore try to provide teachers with tools that they can easily incorporate into their classroom stations so that children are working on fine motor skills any chance they get. These simple changes are a wonderful pro-active way to make your stations go from great to AWESOME!

Advice from an OT:


1-Add clothespins:

The resistance from the clothespins strengthens pincer grasp. Just make sure that children are using a squeezing the pins with their thumb and index finger (they can also add middle finger if the strength is not there) all other fingers must be tucked in the palm of the hand.

Ex: Pick up pompoms to count or sort, write upper case letters on clothespins and have children match them to a card with its lowercase match.


2. Add Adaptive chopsticks or tweezers:

The important thing is the placement of the fingers on these tools. We are looking to mimic a pencil grasp. Make sure that children use their thumb and index finger only. All other fingers are tucked inside the palm of the hand. The webspace (space between the thumb and index finger is open and forms an O, not flat. Use for all stations that require picking up items.


3. Play doh or putty:

The resistance of the dough helps strengthen little fingers. There are so many ways to use dough. Ex: hide items in the dough and have children dig with little fingers, make little balls using the thumb, index and middle finger only to make little balls (these can be used to count), roll the dough to create letters and numbers, use dough to teach cutting, make stamps and imprints.


4. Tiny items:

Use neat pincer grasp (i.e. thumb and index finger only, all other fingers tucked in the palm of the hand) to pick up tiny items like beads, beans, cheerios and mini shaped erasers (my favorite).


5. Use coins or buttons:

An important skill to improve dexterity involves Nesting and retrieving small items. Nesting: Use the thumb and index finger to pick up coins and hold them in the palm of the same hand. Retrieving: hold coins in the palm of the hand and “wiggle” fingers to retrieve one coin at a time from the palm of the hand to the tip of the thumb and index finger. Use coins count, sort or stack.


6. Push pins:

Place worksheets on a cork board and use pushpins. Children use a neat pincer grasp to hold the pin. I like using the extra-large push pins for little kids but you can use a variety of sizes. Ex: Draw a shape on construction paper, have kids push on the outline of the shape to “cut” out the figure, kids make letters using several pushpins, use for counting, use to poke the answer from worksheets.


7. Use rice or bean bins:

An important skill to develop is tactile discrimination. This means that children use their fingers only to feel for items without visually monitoring what their fingers are doing. (This is useful when fastening buttons on oneself. We are more efficient closing buttons without visually monitoring our fingers). Hide items in bean bins for sorting, counting, categorizing, alphabet games like hiding all sorts of small figurines and asking children to find the ones that begin with the letter A only.

8. Stickers:

Peeling stickers is a great way to use little fingers and improve pincer grasp. Use stickers with numbers, letters, colors, categories etc…


9. Easels:

One of the best tools to use to strengthen the wrist and position fingers correctly in preparation for handwriting. Put all worksheets on easels.


10. Use containers with fasteners, twist tops and lids:

Place items such as cards, blocks etc.. in Ziploc bags or pencil cases that have zippers, buttons or snaps. It strengthens fingers to open and close them to retrieve items from inside them.

11. Use Manipulatives:

When picking manipulatives for counting or letters etc… try to pick some that that have resistance such as lego, links etc… (instead of blocks). Learning Resources has some great options.


12. Use grippers, fat and short writing tools:

When picking tools for writing, choose short and fat markers/crayons. You can also attach grippers to all pencils.


13. Use a stylus:

When children are using iPads, use a stylus with a gripper on it to mimic pencil grasp. Children are very motivated to use iPads and therefore using a stylus (with a gripper) gives them the chance to practice proper pencil grasp which they can then carry over during handwriting.



14. Use dry erase boards:

Dry erase boards and markers are great for teaching skills. I find that children are so excited to use these tools, more fun and appealing than a pencil and paper. When teaching something new, consider using easels!


Sensory Activities

Summer Fun with Balloons

I love balloons and kids do too! Not only are they colorful and festive but they can be used for movement activities as well as art and science! Here are some of my favorite activities.

Painting with Balloons.

You Will Need:

  • Balloons
  • Tempra Paint
  • White drawing paper

This is a very simple activity that can be done with children of all skill levels. There is no emphasis on the outcome but rather on the process.

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First have children blow balloons. Keep them small. Then they can dip the balloons in the paint and stamp them unto the paper to create beautiful art creations.

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Balloon Letter Tap:

You Will Need:

  • Balloon
  • Sharpie Marker

Many children that I work with are challenged by eye-hand coordination. Throwing and catching balls can be a challenging skill. I love using balloons to help them catch and throw. Since the movement of the balloon is slower, they can take more time to motor plan their actions.

Begin by blowing up a balloon and use the sharpie marker to write letters on the balloon.  Throw the balloon in the air and name a letter or name a letter and name a word that starts with that letter. Ask the child to do the same as they tap the balloon back to you. This can be very challenging for children that have difficulty combining movement (tapping balloon) with a cognitive skills (name letter or word).


Balloon Volcano

You will Need:

  • Parachute
  • 5-6 Balloons

This is a wonderful group activity. Kids hold on to the parachute and work as a group. You place a balloon in the middle and as children raise the parachute, they have to make sure the balloon does not fall out. Once they master the one balloon, you can add more and more balloons. I like to tell the kids that we keep the volcano dormant and then at the end we let the volcano erupt by lifting off all the balloons in the air!!!

Don’t Let the Balloons Drop with a Twist

You Will Need:

  • Balloons

Another great group activity is the infamous Balloon Drop! I like to play it with a twist. We start with one balloon and gradually I add one balloon at a time. I like adding up to one more balloon than the number of children playing. (if 5 children play, I will slowly add up to 6 balloons) Warning: This becomes a very loud, energetic game!!!

Sensory Bean Bags

You Will Need:

  • Balloons
  • Funnel
  • Dry Rice
  • Dry Beans
  • Dry Chickpeas
  • White Glue
  • Water

Fill balloons with the above ingredients and tie a knot. You can then use them as hand fidgets or bean bags for a toss game. The different ingredients result in bean bags of different weight. They can then be used to work on graded hand control. ie. children have to decide how much force needs to be used to throw the different weights into a set target.

Sensory Activities

Spring is Here

Spring is here and although it’s been cold around the country, we have been blessed in Florida! Spring energy is in the air. It’s time for color and flowers and outdoor activities! Here are 2 fun crafts that we did in MissMancy’s Messy Art Class for Spring!

Textured Birds:

You Will Need:

  • Cutout of a bird
  • Colorful feathers
  • finger paints
  • white glue
  • Wiggle eyes

I like giving the children sponge brushes as an option to begin their project especially for those that have tactile defensiveness. My experience has been that once they see other children using their fingers to paint, they usually try it themselves!


I purchased these foam cutouts in the shape of birds at Target (but you can draw your own on card stock). The kids used bright neon finger paints and added colorful feathers! It’s fun watching the kids play with feathers. This is a wonderful tactile experience with both the paints and the feathers.


Cupcake Liner Flowers:

You Will Need:

  • Different colored Cupcake liners
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Markers
  • Construction Paper

Another fun Spring Craft. This one focuses more on fine motor skills such as cutting and drawing. This activity also requires children to follow a certain sequence. It’s an easy activity for children with lower fine motor skill level. You can increase the level of complexity by asking them to draw a scene around the flowers or to draw and cut out their own flowers to add to the craft.

2014-04-19 11.12.45

I found these really cool felt flowers at Target that some children stuck on their creations.

2014-04-19 11.13.36


Sensory Activities

St-Patty’s Activities

Here are some fun St-Patty’s Day activities I found while searching on line.


Golden Coins Shaving Cream Search

Kids  absolutely love getting messy with shaving cream.  Just add green finger paint,  glitter and shiny coins to create a St- Patty’s theme. The children use tactile discrimination to find hidden coins. This is a a great skills to teach so that children learn to use the tactile information they get from touching without using their eyes to monitor what their hands are doing.  This comes in handy when opening/closing fasteners on their clothing.


Rainbow Painting

This is a great sensory craft for all skill levels. I found this activity on but adapted it for lower level skills. I cut out black pots from construction paper and stuck it at the bottom of the paper. Then using a pencil I drew 6 curved lines to create a rainbow. I numbered each line and marked it with the matching color pattern of a rainbow.

2014-03-15 06.43.05 (1)

I also put paints in small bowls and used a dry erase marker to mark the bowls with the corresponding numbers for the order of the colors.  Children dip their fingertips in the paint and make dots to create a rainbow! We also used silver foil to make shiny coins.2014-03-15 06.46.06

Leprechaun Activity Hunt!

I have yet to meet a child who doesn’t love the excitement of a treasure hunt. I got this idea from I created clovers with activities on each of them ex: 10 sit ups with a partner, 10 jumping jacks, hold hands with friends in a circle and stand on 1 foot 10 sec. Each child had a chance to pick a room on our map and go find a clover. Each child reads out loud the activity that is on their clover and we complete it as a group. I like sending out one child at a time and doing the activities as each child brings back a clover. It helps with maintaining attention and excitement in the group!

2014-03-15 07.14.25

Fine Motor Activities

Math the OT Way

Math the OT way:

Use lots of visuals!!!


Use manipulatives ex: pegs, cubes, number line. For younger children, I suggest you using  loose cubes rather than the cubes that click together to connect. I have seen many struggle with the fine motor component of clicking cubes together and separating them due to lack of strength and coordination. This slows down the learning process. They become focused on the motor portion of this task and lose the attention to the math problem they are trying to solve. The loose cubes allow for more flow so that the attention is on the math equation rather than the motor skill.worms

Use real life examples to solve problems that children can relate to first while they learn the concept, then graduate to other “abstract” examples. For instance you can begin with problems such as, you have 3 toy cars and mom buys you 3 more cars for your bday. How many cars do you have in all? Then you can provide more abstract examples such as  There are 4 birds in the tree and 2 more birds come to sit in the tree, how many birds in all?


I love using white boards to complete calculations before putting it on paper. Children tend to have less hesitation to make mistakes on a white board that they can erase. Also, for children that have difficulty with writing skills, the whiteboard has less friction and allows them to flow more easily with their writing thus the attention is on solving the math equation and not focusing on the formation of numbers or holding the pencil to paper.


Teach measurements with actual items ex: paper clip vs width of a desk. Teach volume with measuring cups and liquids, solids etc. Teach money concept with actual coins and bills. The more children can experience real life examples, the more sensory the experience and therefore the greater potential for learning.


Don’t get stuck on teaching with worksheets. There are many wonderful games that can be used to teach math concepts. I like to use Pop the Pig for number recognition, counting and also writing down the numbers. I also have children pick 2 burgers and add up the numbers. Motivation facilitates learning. After playing a game like this, I like to give them one or 2 worksheet problems and relate the concept t the game we just played so that they themselves can see the direct relationship between the worksheet math and game math. ex: After pop the pig game where they pick up numbered burgers and feed the pig, I make them do a math equation and use the burgers example to help them solve.



Sensory Activities

Easy Art Projets from Miss Mancy’s Messy Art Class

messy art

1- Veggie Art

This is a wonderful activity for all skill levels. I have done this with very young children as well as with my older groups and they all love it.

You Will Need:

  • Raw vegetables such as carrots, celery, potatoes and  peppers, corn.
  • Colorful paints
  • Drawing Paper

For the younger children, I precut the vegetables however with the older groups, I like to have them cut the vegetables so they practice daily life skills. Dry them off with paper towels. Let children dip the vegetables in paint and stamp them unto paper. Simple, yet beautiful. veggy

This is a great way to introduce foods to picky eaters because the first step is for them to look at the vegetable as a non-threatening item and to then interact/ play with it!


2- Salt Painting

Salt Painting is a great activity for children that challenges many fine motor skills. Some children wanted to create there own design with glue while others followed a pattern already drawn.

You Will Need:

  • White Glue
  • Thick drawing paper
  • Salt
  • Paints or food coloring diluted in water.

Have children use a pencil to draw on drawing paper. You can also provide them with a drawing if it’s too difficult for them to draw.

Children then have to squeeze the glue following the drawing/pattern. This takes strength, motor planning and finger control.



They then shake salt on the wet glue and paint using watered down paint/food coloring with a paintbrush. The challenge here is the graded hand control. The just right amount of pressure needs to be used during this type of painting otherwise it can ruin it.


These look great however they are a mess to keep. Once thy dry, the salt cracks off. We took pictures of our final products and framed them instead.



Sensory Activities

3 Kings Day Inspiration


I remember as a little girl living in France, we celebrated 3 Kings Day with a very special tradition. Although I didn’t grow up Catholic,  it was a tradition that my parents did with us every year because to me and my siblings it was so magical.

We call it La Galette des Rois—The Kings Cake. In France, they made this delicious round puff pastry in which they hid a tiny porcelain figurine.  We all sat around the table for a slice and whoever landed on the figurine became the king.  They got to wear a paper crown and were granted one wish!

This has become an activity that I like to do as a cooking group with my little ones.Cooking activities address so many skills on a sensory level as well as sequencing, following directions and life skills such as measuring, pouring, mixing etc.. Instead of the fancy puff pastry,  we make a giant chocolate chip cookie and I hide a little porcelain figurine. I was also inspired by 3 Kings Day to do create “OT” activities.

La Galette des Rois:

Mix all ingredients for your favorite chocolate chip recipe or use the one below but hide a PORCELAINE figurine before baking. However finds the figurine wins a crown and is granted one wish!

The recipe:

  • 1 c butter, softened
  • 3/4 c white sugar
  • 3/4 c brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 & 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 cups chocolate chips

In large bowl, beat butter, sugars and vanilla until soft and fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Gradually add flour, salt, baking soda, and beat until well blended.  Stir in Chocolate Chips.  Spread it out on  greased pizza pan. (leave a good inch or so around the edge of the pan as it will spread when it’s baking) Bake 375 for 20-25 mins.



Find the King in a Rice Bin:

Here is a wonderful sensory way for children to play. You can use rice, sand, or dry beans and hide all sorts of items in it including a little king. Whoever finds the king becomes king for the day and is granted one wish.



Find the king in the Putty:

This is also a great sensory activity but with the added component of finger strengthening. Children use tactile discrimination to find the little king hidden in the putty using their fingers.



Writing Activity:

When working on handwriting, instead of working from worksheets, I like children to use their creative side and imagination. For my 3 Kings inspiration I started off a sentence and asked children to finish the idea by writing their own words. “If I was King for a day, I would……………..”

Cutting Activity:

Zig zag cutting takes a lot of bilateral coordination and therefore it’s great cutting practice for young children. What better way to do that than have children cut a piece of construction paper in a zig zag to create a crown!

Start by drawing a zig zag in thick marker across the length of a construction paper.

Ask children to cut on the lines

Stick both ends of the cutouts together to create one long piece.

Have children decorate by coloring, stickers, glitter, jewels etc…

size it to the child’s head and staple together or tape.


The King’s Scepter

This is a fun group activity. Create a kings scepter my decorating a dowel with ribbons and jewels. Each child gets a turn to “draw” a letter in the air and the rest of the group needs to guess the letter! This is a great way for children to practice correct letter formation.




Fine Motor Activities

Miss Mancy’s Favorite Toy List

The parents I work with always ask me for a list of suggested toys for Hanukah or Christmas so this year I put together a little list for different age groups:


3 to 5 Years Old:

1- Dino Popper is a great way to strengthen little hands. I like the Dino more than the other animals because it fits better in small children’s’ hands.


2- Snap and Learn Lady Bugs: This toy works on so many wonderful skills. Not only can you build number concepts and color concepts but the resistance allows to strengthen little hands and also works on constructional skills like a puzzle.

snap and learn bugs

3- Alex Toys ABC Beading: This is a versatile toy that not only helps children work on bilateral coordination skills through beading but it can be used to create words and learn letters.

abc string

4-Mr Potato Head: The classic Mr Potato Head is a great toy for little ones. They work on body part identification as well as strengthen little hands.


5- Smart Snack Cupcakes: Kids love this toy! They match the top and bottom of the cupcakes depending on the shape. I like to have older children try to put these together by placing the cupcake behind their backs so as to occlude vision.


5 to 7 Years Old:

1- Magneatos: Get ready for your child to be busy for hours! These balls and sticks are large magnets that can be used to create really cool structures.


2- Magnetiles: This is also a great toy! These magnetic shapes are flat and are used to create wonderful structures.


3- Design and Drill: This is another fabulous toy! Children can copy designs by screwing colored screws with an electric drill! Kids really love this! They can also create their own design. This is great for hand strength and to shape the arches of the hand.


4- Suigz: Love this toy for strengthening little fingers. By squeezing the squigz, children build structures that attach to one another with suction. Don’t forget to have children break apart the structures; another opportunity to strengthen hands/fingers.


5- Edu-shape Magic Symmetry: Here is a fun way for children to create mirror images. This is a wonderful visual perceptual activity that requires problem solving and visual motor skills.


7 Years and Up: 

1- Spot it: Excellent visual perceptual game. Children race to find 2 matching shapes, letters or numbers on the card.

spot it

2- PathWords Jr: LOOOOOOVVVVVEEE this game. Such a smart toy! Children have to find the required words using different length/colored sticks. They must therefore use visual perceptual skills along with spelling skills. This is one of my favorite games for older children.


3- Chocolate Fix: Here is another very cool game that works on visual perceptual skills as well as motor planning and problem solving. By process of elimination they try to figure out where the different chocolates go on the tray.


4-Poppin’ Puzzlers: I grew up on this game and loved the thrill of finding the shapes before the tray popped! Now ypou can play against an opponent!

poppin puzzlers

5-Curious George Discovery Beach Day: Kids really really like this game. I like that it works on visual perceptual skills and visual memory. Children try to remember where they found the item from the card they picked.

discovery beach day


You can purchase any of these items on Miss Mancy’s AMAZON store. CLICK HERE for link

Fine Motor Activities

Inspired by Movember

I love when November rolls around and all the men are sporting facial hair! It’s such a fun and visible way to support Prostate Cancer Awareness! Here are some fun ways to incorporate Movember in your activities!


1.Sticker mustache: This is a great way to teach children about facial features.
I found these furry sticker mustaches but they looked too painful to stick on the children’s lips. Instead we cut out a head, children picked a mustache and stuck it on. They then colored in facial features!


2. Matching mustache game: Use fun mustache cups to play a math game. Match the number to the matching number of mustaches. This works on counting concepts as well as visual memory.


3. Stack and throw: Use the same cups to have children create a pyramid (a wonderful visual-motor task) and use bean bags to see how many you can hit. I like to have children “earn” a bean bang by answering questions (ex: Name 5 animals that live in the ocean?) or by having to do a physical task (ex: Do 10 jumping jacks)


4. Draw the other half of the mustache.
Drawing mirror images is a great way to work on visual perceptual skills such as orientation as well as visual motor skills.

5. Ice Mustache Painting: Mix water and Kool Aide (put more Kool Aide than suggested amount) to make colorful ice cube. These can then be used to paint! Wonderful sensory activity for children of all ages.


6. Pin the mustache on the boy: I haven’t tried this yet but you can play a version of Pin the Tail on the Donkey by pinning the mustache on the Silly Face. Great body awareness game.

7. Mustache Writing Activity: Have a worksheet with very different looking mustaches and ask children to write  who would have this mustache

8. Tic Tac Toe: I used a grid and plastic discs to create a Tic Tac Toe game. This is always a very good motor planning, problem-solving visual motor game!


9. Mustache Stamps: Use mustache stamps to create a face or to work on number concepts by stamping the correct number of mustaches that match a given number. Sooo many other ways to use stamps! Get creative!photo-92

10. Grow a Mustache: Get in on the action with all the fun mustache accessories you can find in craft stores. Kids love to dress up! I like taking pictures of the kids with funny mustaches and printing it out for them! They love it! This is my cutie pie nephew getting in on the action!


Fine Motor Activities

Fall Foam Stickers

1- Create a fall scene using stickers This is a great activity for little ones. Peeling stickers has the advantage of working on pincer strength (an important component of dexterity) while allowing children to express their creativity.


2- Create a pattern on a small rectangular card. Draw a line to separate the card and ask children to copy the pattern that you see. They can then cut them in half to create fall tags. This is a wonderful visual-perceptual skill to learn.


3-Draw outline in paper and children have to find the matching sticker to the outline. This is a great visual perceptual game.


4-Peel 6 different stickers and place on a large die. Roll the die and the first to find that sticker wins a point.


For older children Create patterned cards. Children pick a card and have to pick out the stickers that create the pattern.


5-Create a sequence pattern and ask children to continue the sequence. This is a great visual perceptual and problem solving task.

6- Learning to trace is an important precursor to handwriting. Children learn to control their pencil. Using raised foam stickers is a great way to teach that skill to little ones because the sticker is raised and stays put! You can make this activity more challenging by not sticking down the sticker to the paper. Children have to coordinate both hands while tracing so that the sticker doesn’t move.


7-Use a foam cube (dollar store) and stick foam stickers on it. Dip in paint to create a stamp. Note: if the foam sticker is too thin, put a second sticker on top of it. Stamps are a great way to strengthen little hands.

8-Work on handwriting by stick foam animal stickers on paper and draw a talking bubble where children can practice to write. If you laminate the bubble, you can re-use with dry erase markers.write


Fine Motor Activities Sensory Activities

Candy Candy sooooo Much Candy!

What to do with all this extra candy?

1- Science experiment:

Teach children about acid content. Place a candy in a bowl with a little bit of water. Add a teaspoon of baking soda. If the solution bubbles, then this candy is acidic. Try with a variety of candies such as Lemonheads, Nerds, skittles, m&ms etc…


2-Candy Graphing Math:

Create graphs of the various candies. (Sample taken from

candybar graph

3- Licorice stamps:

Use the thin licorice strings (untwist) create a pattern on jar lids and use as a stamp. Children can create letters and numbers as well.


4- Blessing Boxes:

Create Sweet Blessings boxes filled with candy and donate to a local charity.

blessing box
5- Candy Jar:

Kids are asked to bring extra candy to school. These can be placed in a jar that the teacher can use for rewards to the class. (Sample taken from

candy jar
6- Paint with skittles and m&m:

Separate the candy by color. Dissolve the candy in a little bit of water and use like watercolors! (Sample taken from

7-Twizzlers and string licorice to make letters:

Create cards with uppercase and lowercase letters. Laminate them and have children create these letters using licorice.


8- Patterns:

Teach children important sequencing skills by creating candy patterns that they have to follow. This is a great classroom activity for little ones. (Sample taken from

9- Candy Sorting:

Use tweezers to pick up and sort candy by color. This works on pincer strength.


10- Donate the candy to our troops:

Donate extra candy to our troops at

Sensory Activities

Spooky Witch Pumpkin

This is a great alternative to carving a pumpkin. Lay a pumpkin on its side, paint it green. Add streamers for hair, wiggle eyes, a felt mouth and accessorize with a witch hat!!! Kids LOOOOVED the Spooky result!


Sensory Activities

Spooky Sounding Lanterns

These were so easy to make and the resulting sound is really loud!!!
The kids loved playing around with the sound variations. We each got a chance to pull on our string while other children guessed what it sounded like. We made sounds of witches, ghosts, squeaky doors and even chickens!!!!!

You will need:

  • Plastic cup
  • Black Adhesive felt (You can do this with construction paper and glue instead)
  • Skewer or nail to poke a hole
  • Cotton string or yarn (will not work with nylon string)
  • Paper clip
  • Scissors
  • Wet piece of cloth/material


Cut out 2 small triangles  and a mouth with black felt. Flip the cup upside down, peel and stick facial features to the cup.

Use the skewer to poke a hole at the top of the cup.


Attach the string to a paper clip by making 2 knots.

photo-75Slip the other end of the string in the hole, from the top of the cup.


Wet a little piece of cloth (we used a cut up wash cloth)

Hold the cup up from the top and glide the cup on the string for some really silly sounds!!!

Sensory Activities

Halloween Scene Prints

You Will Need:

  • Acrylic or tempra paint
  • Sponge roller
  • Plastic place mats
  • Q tips
  • Construction paper


This is a very simple activity that can be done with children of all skill levels. The little ones enjoy it just as much as the older ones. The younger children even used their hands to spread the paint and drew scribbles with their Q-tips. The older children took the time to draw more elaborate scenes!

Roll out paint evenly on placemats.

Create a Halloween scene using a Qtip.

Work quickly don’t let the paint dry out
Put a paper over the painting and press down.

Peel the paper to reveal a beautiful Halloween print!!


Once the first print is completed, you can roll out a different color and create a new scene!



First Annual uAspire Fundraiser Gala

We had such a fun time this weekend at the first Annual uAspire Fundraiser Gala. Please help me support this wonderful organization that provides college scholarships.

Knowledge is power and there is no reason why anyone should be denied an education due to lack of finances! Just imagine…the cure to many diseases, new technologies, brilliant art, political and economic solutions is out there given the opportunity for kids to get the proper education!!!!
Invest in our future!!!! (:
Please follow this link to donate:


Fine Motor Activities

14 Ways to Use Popsicle Sticks

I think my favorite challenge as an OT (and lover of crafts) is to find an inexpensive, easy to find item and come up with as many creative uses for it as I can! Here is my take on popsicle sticks. I have gathered info from many sources and have come up with my own ideas as well!

1. Use it as a spacing tool for writing.


2. Create fun little puppets and use them in a creative puppet show.


3.Use large popsicle sticks to teach children letter sizing. They write the letters on the stick and can’t draw letters past it.


4.Use as a tool to underline.


5. Use as a pointer for reading. They double up as a bookmark.


6. Use them as counting sticks


7. Use popsicle sticks to make letters that contain straight lines only ex: A, E, F etc…


8. Put stick on velcro at the ends of the sticks and use them to create shapes and teach shape formation (click on the picture for the link to theviolethours)


9.Use it to draw letters in the sand or in various other mediums such as shaving cream

10. Use 2 popsicle sticks to make tweezers! Love this! (click on the picture for the link to impressyourkids)


11. “Walk” your fingers along the stick forward and back to teach finger isolation movements (needed for a dynamic pencil grasp)


12. Twirl popsicle stick (like when you twirl a pencil to the side of the eraser). Another important skills that requires isolated finger movements and therefore improves dexterity.


13.Create a really fun Math Game. Click on the picture to get details from swampfrogfirstgraders.

math game14. Use it for Brain Breaks Sticks! Click on the picture for details from heerenshappenings

brain break

Sensory Activities

A Sensory Approach to Maximizing Students’ Potential

This is a very popular workshop I gave last year to several schools. The questions and brainstorming that came from this presentation were very inspiring. I love when teachers try to incorporate fine motor and sensory goals in their classrooms realizing that it can benefit ALL children. This workshop addressed: Creating a Sensory Classroom, How to pick out the children that need OT, The importance of Movement in our curriculum and integrating children with special needs in a regular classroom.

I hope you enjoy this power point presentation. Feel free to share but please credit
photo-57 copy

Fine Motor Activities

Fine Motor Foundations for Handwriting Success

Back to School is here again. I just finished preparing my Workshop Presentation for teachers of pre-K and Kindergarten. This year’s topic is Fine Motor Foundations for Handwriting Success. There is a direct link between mastering fine motor skills in young children to ensure a proper pencil grasp. In turn, an efficient grasp optimizes a child’s chance for handwriting success. If they don’t need to focus their energy on holding the pencil correctly and always having to reposition it or just hold it so it doesn’t fall, they are then able to focus all their energy on learning the correct formation of the letters and letter concepts.

Feel free to download my Power Point presentation from Slide Share but please share the credits to Click on the Image for the presentation!


Fine Motor Activities

Great Fine Motor Tools to Incorporate in Your Classroom

Here are some of my favorite fine motor tools that all teachers should consider incorporating in their classrooms when creating stations. These tools work on finger strength, pincer grasp, pincer strength, hand arches and/or in-hand manipulation skills. The importance of these skills is that their mastery actually helps improve pencil grasp and promotes dexterity.

1- Chopsticks: Using adaptive chopsticks to sort pompoms, mini erasers, figurines, buttons and other small items encourages children to use a pincer grasp and therefore strengthens the fingers used to grasp a pencil correctly. Furthermore, these chopsticks must be used with the correct amount of strength i.e it works on graded finger control (using the “just right” amount of force)


2-Play dough: The versatility of play dough is endless. This resistive material helps strengthen little fingers during play. You can use it with cookie cutters, to make small balls or little snakes, hide small items to be found or to make letters of the alphabet.


3-Clothespins: I love to use clothespins during sorting activities. Any time you can use clothespins to pick up small items (rather than the child’s fingers) try to incorporate that. It will strengthen little fingers used for pencil grasp. Get creative!


4-Easel: This is by far one of the best tools to have for children in the classroom. It helps place the wrist in the correct extended position which in turn assists fingers to grasp the pencil more easily. I love when teachers use easels for writing assignments or for art projects. Check out my post on easels.

portable easel

5- Tweezers: Tweezers can be used to pick up small items. You can use regular tweezers or plastic ones. Just like clothespins and adaptive chopsticks they utilize and strengthen the fingers that children need to use for proper pencil grasp.

6- Stickers: Children love stickers and there are endless ways to use them. Check out my post on stickers.


7- Mini erasers, coins or buttons: Manipulatives are really wonderful for counting, sorting, in-hand manipulation skills and for use with tweezers or chopsticks. You can also hide them in play dough, rice or shaving cream and ask children to find them.


8- Beading: Different sized beads are a great way to work on bilateral coordination skills with little ones while working on neat pincer. You can bead on a pipe cleaner or on a string depending on the child’s skill level. You can also ask them to copy a pattern or make their own.


9- Lacing: This is another important bilateral coordination skill that we teach young children. Lacing cards are great and you can create your own!


10- ABC insert puzzle or foam letters: I love Alphabet puzzles and foam letters because they can be used in sooooo many ways. You can play word games, copy the letter, ask children to spell words, or pick out the letter with a specific sound. You can hide them in shaving cream or make them a part of a scavenger hunt. The possibilities are endless!!!


11- Plastic Sleeve and Dry erase markers: This is a great way to re-use worksheets with more than one child. Place the worksheet in the plastic sleeve. Once your child completes it, they can erase it and it can be used by another student! Check out my post on plastic sleeves.



10 Things All Teachers Need to Know When Teaching Handwriting

I wanted to share a few tips of the trade when teaching handwriting to young children. There are several approaches but mine has always been eclectic and varies greatly depending on the child’s strengths. But here is a little bag of tricks I like to use!

1-Do not look at the final product, look at the process that the child uses to make sure the approach is correct.

2- Teach letter writing from top to bottom, left to right (for lefties it’s ok to go from right to left)


3- Do not teach letter formation in alphabetical order. Follow this order:
First teach letters with vertical and horizontals: L F E H T I
Then teach circular letters: U C O Q G S J D P B R
Lastly teach letters with diagonals: K A M N V W X Y Z

4- Make sure you draw a box within which children have to copy letters (gives them a framework within which they remain focused, otherwise letters are all over the place)

5-Have children trace highlighted letters rather than dotted lines.

DSCF04386- For children who have difficulty remembering the order of a stroke, I like providing them with an auditory cue. I therefore associate each stroke with a sound ex: diagonal is going down a slide weeeee

7- Some children may need you to create a storyline behind the formation of certain letters. Ex: lowercase letter e, I tell children they are in a car with the family driving vroom across (horizontal line) and we forgot the dog so we stop and go back around around around and stop (creates an e)

8- Teach formation of uppercase letters first then graduate to lowercase letters

9- Use a whiteboard to teach letter formation. The low friction allows children to focus on the formation of the letter instead of losing focus trying to maintain the pencil in their fingers caused by the higher friction of a pencil on paper. Once a child practices the formation on a whiteboard, you can then practice on paper with pencil.

10- Make letter formation fun! Use as many sensory components as possible ex tactile: sand, paint, shaving cream, pudding etc… Use stickers, wiki six, magic markers, Popsicle sticks, music games, childrens’ bodies to form letters, glow in the dark sticks etc….


Fine Motor Activities

Summer Days OT Activities Kit


You can purchase this fun SUMMER DAYS Themed Kit for only 14.95$ at MissMancy’s Shop

Summer Days Kit includes the following activities and crafts:

  1. Sunshine Door Hanger
  2. Summer Bug Bead
  3. Sailboats
  4. One Summer Puzzle
  5. Butterfly Lacing Card
  6. Froggy (3 activities)




Fine Motor Activities



Activity 1:

Use the small pompoms and adaptive chopsticks to feed the frog some flies!

This works on pincer grasp which is needed to promote a good pencil grasp. Make sure your child uses his thumb and 1-2 fingers.

Activity 2:

Use the playdoh to make small balls using only the thumb and first 2 fingers. Then squish them onto the circles on the frog. This activity helps with finger isolation as well as finger strength.

Activity 3:

Use a dry erase marker (not included) to color in each circle. Make sure your child colors in a circular pattern. This type of coloring will help with finger isolation rather than whole arm/hand movements when coloring.

You can purchase this activity as a part of MissMancy’s Summer Days Kit


You can also have your child cut out the frog using scissors and cut out the mouth so it makes it more real when they feed the frog!


Fine Motor Activities

Butterfly Lacing Cards

You Will Need From Your Kit:


  • Butterfly cut out
  • hole puncher
  • Ribbon (make sure to cut 10 inches for the door hanger activity in your kit)
  • Stickers

You can purchase this activity as a part of MissMancy’s Summer Days Kit

Step 1: Use hole puncher to make holes over each dot on the butterfly


Step 2: Place clear tape on both ends of the ribbon to make it easier lace


Step 3: Begin at the bottom of the butterfly and lace ribbon under the 2 bottom holes. Even out the 2 ends of the ribbon


Step 4: Begin lacing through each hole (use one ribbon for each wing)


Step 5: Lace the other wing and make a bow in the middle where both ribbons meet.


Step 6: Peel stickers and decorate your butterfly


Skills Addressed:

The use of a hole puncher helps children work on grip strength. It also mimics the open and closing movement of scissors which is a good activity for children who have difficulty with cutting skills.

Lacing is an important bilateral coordination skill. It can be challenging for little ones.

Peeling stickers works on neat pincer which is important for accomplishing many fine motor tasks.


Visual Perceptual Activities

Summer Puzzles


Tips on Teaching Little ones to complete a puzzle:

The idea is to help children move from a trial and error approach to a problem-solving approach

  1. Make sure they see the completed puzzle before breaking it up
  2. Teach children to match colors, patterns etc (they don’t always realize this strategy)
  3. If it’s too difficult, give them 2 pieces at a time to match up
  4. With larger puzzles I like teaching children to create the frame first and then fill in the rest of the puzzle. I also like puzzles that have the sky and the ground when teaching larger puzzles as this is a strategy too to figure out where pieces go.
  5. I also give hints ex: if the pick up a piece of an airplane I say: Does it go in the sky or in the water? Give hints by asking questions.
  6. Use verbal cueing for instance, when the correct piece doesn’t fit, I encourage children by saying: turn it and try another side. I have them try and encourage them to turn the puzzle piece till it makes a fit.
  7. Remind children to refer to the picture on the box.
  8. For children that don’t like puzzles, use it as part of an obstacle course! It helps them comply and focus!

You can purchase this cute puzzle as part of Miss Mancy’s Summer Days Activity Kit!

Skills Addressed:

Puzzles help children work on visual perceptual skills. It also teaches them problem-solving, organization and focused attention. I find that many children do not like puzzles but it’s because they can be overwhelming. However if you walk them through it, they actually love the satisfaction of finding connecting pieces.

Fine Motor Activities


You Will Need From Your Kit:


  • Thick stock paper
  • sticker
  • mini plastic container
  • playdoh
  • dowel
  • hole puncher

You can purchase this activity as part of Miss Mancy’s Summer Days Activity Kit!

Step 1: Use puzzle included in this kit to measure the size of a square on card stock paper.


Step 2: Cut out the square and then cut it in half to create 2 triangles


Step 3: Use the hole puncher to make 3 holes on the short edge of the triangle


Step 4: Use stickers to decorate the triangle on both sides and weave the dowel in the holes to create a sail


Step 5: Make a small ball with some playdoh


Step 6: Mold the dough at the top of the small container to create a small “mountain” . Make sure it sticks well


Step 7: Create your sailboat by sticking the dowel into the dough!


Skills Addressed:

This activity incorporates many fine motor skills that children use at school.

Cutting works on bilateral coordination skills while using the hole puncher mimics the opening and closing motion of scissors. This helps children that have difficulty with cutting skills. The resistance of the hole puncher also helps strengthen little hands.

The rolling the playdoh helps with finger isolation and peeling stickers works on creating a neat pincer. These fine motor skills help children with dexterity.


Fine Motor Activities

Summer Bug Bead

You will Need From Your Kit:

  • Pipe cleaners body and head
  • Beads
  • Wing drawings on thick stock paper


You can purchase this activity as a part of MissMancy’s Summer Days Kit

The Activity:

This is a great activity you can do with little ones to teach beading skills. Many little ones have a hard time beading on a string so use pipe cleaners that are more stiff than a string to facilitate beading. Beading is an important task for little ones to learn since in works on bilateral coordination.

You can ask children to be creative and bead as they wish OR you can ask them to follow a certain pattern in order to work on visual perceptual skills.

You can ask children to be creative and bead as they wish OR you can ask them to follow a certain pattern in order to work on visual perceptual skills.

Cut out wings to create either a butterfly or a dragonfly! OR leave as is for caterpillars!

Skills Addressed:

An important bilateral skill that young children have to learn is beading. This teaches them to use both hands simultaneously! Also picking up small beads helps improve a neat pincer grasp needed for good fine motor skills.

This activity also incorporates simple cutting skills which once again works on bilateral coordination.


Fine Motor Activities

Sunshine Door Hanger

You Will Need from your Kit:


  • Linen Flower cut out
  • 10 clothespins
  • Yellow and orange paint
  • Paintbrush
  • 10 inch piece of ribbon
  • 2 wiggle eyes
  • “The Sun has Set” printout
  • Scissors (not included)
  • Glue (not included)
  • Black Marker (not included)

You can purchase this activity as part of Miss Mancy’s Summer Days Activity Kit!

STEP 1: Paint 5 clothespins yellow and 5 clothespins orange. Make sure to paint bot sides and you may need a double coat.


Step 2: Paint the front and back of the linen flower (optional) yellow or orange or both…I painted mine pink.


Step 3: Cut out the ” The Sun Has Set” and stick it at the back of the flower


Step 4: Stick the 2 wiggle eyes and use a black marker do draw a mouth on the other side of the flower (on the linen side)


Step 5: Add a piece of ribbon through the hole at the top of your flower and make a knot

Step 6: Once the clothespins are dry, pin them on the flower to create a sunshine!


You can use the sunshine as a door hanger!


Skills Addressed:

Painting is a great way to work on grasp so it can be carried over to a pencil grasp. Make the paint surface vertical (like placing the flower to be painted on an easel or wall) and it will work on wrist strength and shoulder strength.

Cutting a circle is an important Kindergarten bilateral coordination skill that children learn. Make several colored copies of the sign  in case they need practice.

I love using clothespins to strengthen little fingers. Make sure they use only a neat pincer grasp (i.e. thumb and first finger). Strengthening these muscles improves pencil grasp and overall hand dexterity for other fine motor activities. Use the final product several ways: as part of an obstacle course, patterning, on a scooter, over a therapy balls etc… there are endless ways to use it!


Fine Motor Activities Sensory Activities

4 Really Cool Art Projects to do with Kids of ALL Skill Levels

Miss Mancy Summer classes at the Social Mind Center have been doing great! The kids are really enjoying everything they are getting their hands on! I wanted to share with you some of the most popular Art projects we did. I like that they can accommodate various skill levels.


1- Cool Self-portraits!

You Will Need:

  • Large white paper
  • Pencil and eraser
  • Black Sharpie marker
  • Water colors


This is a really fun group project. Children get to work together on each others projects! (Great social skills building activity!)

I start by pairing up 2 students together.

Place a large piece of paper on the table in front of each child.

Have the children take turns using a PENCIL to trace each others hands towards the top half of the paper. (Works on tracing skills)

You can then put the paper on the floor and have them trace each others feet (with shoes on) at the bottom half of the page.

I like to then use a black marker and go over the traces to make sure they look ok and have children erase the pencil marks. (Erasing is a great way to strengthen little fingers and teach graded finger control, you have to erase firmly but gently otherwise you can tear or crumple paper)

Each child then adds a face and body to the hands/feet.

I like to have children use watercolors to paint their drawings.  Kids LOOOOVE the final product!!!!

2- Pollock-inspired Drip Painting!

You Will Need:

  • Large black construction paper
  • Acrylic Paints
  • Paintbrush


Based on Jackson Pollock’s unique style of drip painting, the kids explored paint in a whole new, liberating way!

This is a wonderful sensory activity. It does get messy so be ready!

Do this activity outdoors.

Place black or white pieces of paper on the  ground.

Provide kids with acrilyc paints (water them down a little to syrup consistency if needed)

Give each child a paint brush that they dip in the paint and splash away!!!! Let the fun begin!

By framing these paintings, they make such a great art piece to expose!

I love this activity because it’s great for children with tactile sensitivities (those that don’t like to get dirty) and there’s no right or wrong. No “rules” to follow so this is great for all levels.

We have an Art Exposition at Social Mind Center where all children get a chance to expose their work of art. The Pollock Paintings allow children with lower skills to participate in these Expos.

3- Cloud Painting!

You Will Need:

  • White paper
  • Shaving cream
  • Food coloring
  • Paintbrush (or any thin stick)
  • Wide popsicle stick

This is a wonderful multi-step sensory activity for kids of all abilities.

Begin by having children spread shaving cream on the table (keep enough thickness)

Squeeze drops of food coloring across the shaving cream.


Use a paintbrush or stick to drag the food coloring across the shaving cream (do not mix all colors together they will become a brown uniform color, we want to see the separation of colors)


Place a white sheet of paper over the shaving cream and press sown firmly


Use the side of a wide popsicle stick to remove by scraping all shaving cream from the paper.


This creates your final product! A beautiful rainbow colored paper!


Note: we used a second piece of paper across the shaving cream a second time and it created a similar but lighter masterpiece!

4- Modern Mosaics

You Will Need:

  • Black construction paper and another two of contrasting color
  • Washi tape of various colors
  • Glue and scissors

This is a great activity to teach cutting skills especially to little ones. The idea here is to cut without following any lines so this makes it easy at various levels.

Begin with a blank piece of black construction paper.

Have children stick tape of various colors to cover the black paper.


Children then cut this into small pieces (to resemble broken glass)


Here we decided to stick the mosaic pieces on each child’s first letter of their name.

I drew the letter (in reverse) on the back of a piece of blue construction paper and roughly cut around the letter, leaving a 1 inch edge.

Flip over the paper (the letter will be on the back of the construction paper) and ask children to glue pieces of mosaics to cover the entire cut out.

Once dry, flip the paper over and now cut out the letter on the lines. When you flip back, you will have a perfect letter with clean edges.

We stuck the letters on a different color construction paper and added a border with washi tape.


So easy and so pretty!

Fine Motor Activities

CUTTING- Everything you need to know!


1- Begin with good scissors. i.e the blade is not too long, scissors are easy to open. Use Left-handed scissors for left- handed children (the blade opens up on the opposite side). Personally I like Fiskars with the round thumb opening and oval (wider) opening for other fingers.


2- Position fingers correctly. This means make sure children use a thumbs up approach when cutting. Most children do not pay attention to the positioning of scissors…teach it! I show them the different sized holes and I tell them that the thumb goes in the small opening and other fingers in the larger opening. Teach it, teach it, teach it!!!

Correct finger positioning


3- While cutting, make sure children keep the thumb up (ie the wrist is supinated, never pronated), their arm close to the body and the wrist in neutral (never flexed).

pronated cut
Incorrect finger positioning 


4- Begin with resistive mediums such as playdoh, straws, card stock then graduate to thinner paper.

5- Always start with Prep activities to cutting. Here are some that I use: I like putty for strengthening and finger awareness. I also use tools that mimic the open/ close motion of scissors or mimic the cause and effect of squeezing a tool to get an outcome ex: hole puncher, spray bottle, clothespins, tweezers, egg holder, grabber.


6- For beginners I  highlight a thick line where they have to cut.


7-  If a child has a hard time cutting during art project and I want him to still be part of the art project, I use a highlighter to draw a square or circle frame around the picture.

frame cut


8- Teach cutting in the following order: snip, cut across paper, cut on a straight line, zig zag, curve. For shapes I like to teach square, triangle, circle then complex shape.

9- I like to verbally cue children with a little song as they cut…I’ll say open and close open and close and stop, now turn, open and close etc…I will also remind them to stay on the road!!!

10-  Kids can become so focused on the “open and close” motion that they don’t always realize where the scissor is cutting… so I teach it! Are you on the road?


off road
Are you on the road? “No!”
on road
Are you on the road? “Yes!”…so we cut

11- If the paper is too large, cut around it, to make it easier for children to manipulate.


Summertime Handwriting Kit

pinterest Summer kit

Summer is here!!!! This is a great opportunity for parents to work on handwriting skills including a correct grasp and proper letter formation.

I have just finished doing OT screenings at various schools in my community and I noticed that many pre-K and Kindergarten children still show poor grasp and letter formation despite all the great literature and resources out there for teachers.

I believe that many teachers are taught to look at the final product instead of the process of handwriting and therefore they don’t readily pick up on the children with “handwriting issues” unless the writing is illegible.

Many parents are told to work on handwriting with their children but they do not know where to start. I therefore created a little kit so parents can work on handwriting and grasp over the Summer. Armed with the knowledge of what a correct grasp looks like along with proper formation of letters, parents can work on this at home.

For teachers who believe their students have difficulty with handwriting skills, this kit is a great recommendation for parents. You can shop for it right here!

Sensory Activities

Painting Snowboards for the Special Olympics!

I want to share a very special activity that we did with the children in MissMancy’s Art Class at the Social Mind Center.

We are so Blessed and fortunate to do our part for the Special Olympics through Art!!!

These snowboards were provided to the Center so that we can have the children paint them and then return them to be used at the Special Olympics!!!!! How EXCITING!!!!! The kids were sooooo happy to be a part of this!

We have many boards to paint but this first one we attempted as a group!

First we painted the boards with a black acrylic paint and let that dry. Then we used blue painters tape (love that stuff!!! See my post on 10 different ways to use painters tape) and created a design on the board.


Children then went to town and painted using acrylic paints! The look comes out uniform because of the painters tape! So this is a great activity for children to paint freely!


I will keep you posted when they hit the slopes!

You can always try this activity on a canvas or on a compressed foam board or any surface that will allow the painters tape to be peeled off without compromising the surface!

Gross Motor Activities

10 ways Blue Painter’s Tape

1- Tic tac toe: I’m a huge fan of tic tac toe. It’s a great motor planning/problem solving game. You can use bean bags or 2 different colored items to play.


2-Sticky Spider Web: I saw this on and thought it was such a great idea! I adapted it to meet OT goals. First, i gather magazines and I ask the children to make balls by crushing the  paper (this works on hand strength) I write numbers 1 to 10 on the web of tape. Kids pick a card with a math problem and they throw the newspaper ball on the answer!


3-Mazes: I’ve used this as a spider web or you can create a Maze on the floor., place foam letters in the maze. Children have to spell specific words. You can also have children kick a ball or a bean bag along the maze for eye-foot coordination!


4- Figure 8 fishing: create the number 8 with tape. place puzzle pieces in each of the circles. Have children walk along the 8 (great whole brain integration activity) when u say freeze they stop and pick up a fish.
You can do this with foam letters or numbers. Ask children to pick up the first letter of a word OR solve a math problem and pick up the answer.

5- Don’t steal my shape: I make a rectangle on the floor using tape. I place shapes on either side of the rectangle. One child stands in the box while the other is outside the box and tries to steal his shape.


6-Musical x: kids really love this game. Just like musical chairs. I make x’s on the floor with blue tape. I put on the music and kids dance around. Once the music stops they have to find an x to stand on otherwise they leave the game. Continue until the last man standing!


7- Letters on floor and kids lay on it: this is a great group activity to introduce letters.



8- Balance Beam: Make a simple straight line or curved or zig zag and have your child walk on it different ways ex: tip toe, forward heel toe, backwards, sideways, grapevine etc..



9- Paint a design: this is great for kids with very low fine motor skills to create wonderful art. Make a design with blue tape on a foam board (available at craft stores) For instance you can create beautiful chevron pattern or star beams. Have your child use paints or markers freely to paint the entire surface (who cares how it looks) once it dries and you remove the painters tape it will create a beautiful painting. Kids looove peeling the tape too! (Great for pincer work)



10- To facilitate cutting: great way to teach cutting on the line. Place tape along a shape and tell children to cut on the road. The blue tape is a great visual and the thickness of the tape facilitates cutting. Thick stock paper can be expensive s o this is a great way to thicken paper to cut.

Fine Motor Activities

10 Great Ways to Use Wax Strings

Here are 10 Great Ways that I like to use Wikki Stix

1-Place it around the top end of crayons to give children a visual and tactile cue as to where to place their fingers

2-Teach how to color in the lines by outlining a shape with the string.


3- Teach how to trace by placing string outlining the shape (it becomes like a stencil) then have children trace either on the inside or outside border of the string.

4- Use over and over for word match games

5- Draw a design and have children fill it in with wax string or make figurines as it was designed to play.


6- Practice letter formation by writing words on paper and having children use precut pieces of string to form letters.

7- Form letters using foam letters

8-Teach cutting by having children cut along the wiki stick border

9- Play wall tic tac toe. The vertical surface is great for strengthening wrist flexors.


10- Work on motor coordination by creating a path with string and have your child draw a line by staying in the path. I also like using a wiggle pen for added hand control.

Fine Motor Activities

Category Pick Up

Something that has been coming up lately during sessions with my kids is the importance of Categories. When
Children begin acquiring language they first learn to label and name things in their environment. With time they learn to organize the many words they learn into more and more sophisticated categories ex: an apple can be categorized as food, fruit, perishable etc…
As OTs we don’t work explicitly on language but I love funding ways to invitoitdtr speech therapy goals during OT sessions.
Here is a little activity I created that works on teaching categories (SLP goal) while working on pincer grasp and strength (OT goals)

You Will Need:

  • Miniature items such as erasers and small toys. (I have transportation and foods)
  • Create labels with a visual for each category (in this case transportation and food)
  • Adaptive chopsticks

This activity is also available here at Miss Mancy’s SHOP

The Activity:

Place all mini items in front of your child. Have them use the adaptive chopsticks to pick up one item at a time, name it and place it on the label for the correct category!


OT Corner:

I love using adaptive chopsticks to teach children the proper way to isolate the correct fingers and strengthen the correct muscles that they need for a proper pincer grasp.

Just make sure that they hold the chopsticks with their thumb and 2 first fingers and all other fingers are tucked in the hand. If the chopsticks are to heavy for little hands to hold, I allow them to use all other fingers however they MUST keep an open web space (i.e. the space between the thumb and index finger that forms a nice open circle when this tool is held correctly)

Working on these muscles is a great way to help children strengthen the muscles used for an efficient grasp on pencils!


So Excited to Share…Miss Mancy Summer Classes

Summer Class at Social Mind Center Davie

Sensory Activities


I will try to share with you pictures of the wonderful activities that we do during Miss Mancy’s Fun with Science Classes at the Social Mind Center here in Davie Florida. It gets a little busy (and messy (: but i will try as best as I can)IMG_5943

Several weeks a go we began a planting activity with the children at the center. We used regular dried beans including Pinto, Lima, Kidney and Black beans. We placed them on wet cotton balls and allowed them to grow. The children were so excited to see that these seeds truly grew into small plants! Most of them did not believe it would happen!IMG_5946

This week, we continued our gardening project. The children planted the little plants into small ceramic pots. They watered them and some of them painted their pots! Everyone got a chance to take their plants home. We learned about the growth cycle of a plant and how to care for them!


So much fun and such a wonderful sensory activity for the children!


Autism Advice

Motivate your Child to Learn a New Skill!!!

Parents ask me all the time how to motivate their child to learn a new skill that they have no interest in learning. I usually like children to learn skills for the inherent value of acquiring that skill but there are times when a little push in the right direction is needed! I like to suggest this approach for toilet training, getting dressed, brushing teeth, sleeping in one’s own bed.

Here is my approach (it works VERY well)!

It’s important to get your child involved in every step of this activity so that they feel their involvement and become more easily committed to following through. One of the reasons this is so motivating is that it gives the child a VISUAL and KINESTHETIC feedback so they can see how far along they’ve come and how much more effort they need to do before winning the reward.

1- Discuss the desired skill with your child. It must be ONE skill. Keep it short, simple and attainable. Ex: Put on socks and shoes (not get dressed on your own…(this can be a goal when you feel your child is ready but if they are having difficulty getting dressed, break up the skills)

2- Have your child pick their reward. I like to go online and print out 2 copies of the desired reward. For example, we picked a Lalaloopsy Doll.

Matey Anchors

3- Draw a grid on both pictures. Here I drew 12 boxes for the 12 days that I want to work on it with the child. (If you need more time draw more boxes.)


4-On one image, number each box from 1 to 12 in small numbers AND on the back of the other image mark each corresponding box with number 1 to 12 in large numbers.


5-Hang up the first image (with the small numbers) in your child’s room and cut the other image in 12 boxes. Save the boxes in a little plastic bag or a little box.


6-Every day that your child puts on his socks and shoes, they get to stick a piece of the puzzle on the image. Once the entire image is completed, they win their prize and most likely will have learned their skill!

Sensory Activities

Designing for the Senses

One of my projects has been to work in collaboration with designer Deborah Dimare to create Sensory Smart Spaces for children with ASD and with Sensory Sensitivities. We were featured on the TODAY SHOW a few years ago during Autism Awareness Month!!! What a great experience!



Fine Motor Activities Gross Motor Activities Visual Perceptual Activities

10 Ways to use Fairy Wands


You Will Need:

  • A wand
  • Round Thumbtack
  • Small magnet

I put a round tip thumbtack and secured it with hot glue on one end and a small magnet on the other end. You can also purchase this wand at MissMancy’s Shop.


The Activities:

Fantastic Ways to teach letter formation:

1. Form letters on your child’s back and they have to guess the letter. I added a rounded tip at the end of my wand to make it “roll” more smoothly on different surfaces.


2. Form letters in the air and have your child guess. I like to do it also as a race between 2 children. Who can name the letter first.


3. Form letters in the pool and have your child guess the letter.


Other ways to use the wand:

4. Use the magnetic tip to pick up bingo chips or magnetized letters as part of an obstacle course.


5. Carry small items from one end of the room to the other or on a balance beam. I like to make little butterflies or birds out of different materials or use mini erasers and ask children to “save” the butterfly across the bridge. This helps children learn to slow down and pay attention to their bodies and movements.


6. The Abracadabra Animal game: Wave your magic wand and name an animal. Your child has to pretend you turned him into that animal and imitate this its walk ex: bird, butterfly, elephant, bear, crab. This is a fun gross motor activity.


7.Tap a balloon to each other. Great eye-hand coordination game especially for children with poor ball skills.


8. Finger Activities: Race with fingers up and down the length of the wand. Begin by holding it with a tripod grasp like a crayon and walk your fingers back all the way to the star and then forward all the way to the tip. Twirl like a baton. These are both great ways to work on pincer grasp which will help strengthen little fingers for writing.


9. Have your child close his eyes. Touch him with the wand somewhere on his body and ask him to then open his eyes and point where you touched him. This is great for body awareness through tactile input.


10. Turn on the music and have your child dance around with the wand. When the music stops they must freeze. They cannot move but if they do, you tickle them with the tip of your wand and they are out of the game. This is a great auditory processing game.




Fine Motor Activities

Button the Princess

Therapeutic Corner:

Buttoning is a bilateral coordination skill as it requires both hands to do work simultaneously. Many children have difficulty with this task so I break it down in a fun and easy way. Teaching children how to manage buttons should be done first on a surface that can be placed in front of them and once that is mastered, it can be taught on items that are on their own body such as a shirt. (This is a more difficult task because it removes the visual component of this task and relies on tactile skills).

The Activity:

I used felt to create the face of a princess. I cut facial features out of felt and sewed buttons in the correct spots. This activity is fun for girls. You can also purchase it here at MissMancy’s Shop.


They can change the hair color and accessories by buttoning and unbuttoning pieces unto the face!


Here is a picture of the correct way to complete this activity:


Here in the INcorrect way to complete this activity:



Autism Awareness Day!

For all my little ones that I love so much…Light it up BLUE! Today is Autism Awareness Day!




Take a Messy Art Class with Miss Mancy!!!

I am soooooo excited to announce that I have joined the Social Mind Center, in Davie Florida!

I will be giving a Miss Mancy Messy Art class every Thursday starting today!

Join us!!!

Little Painter

Fine Motor Activities

Pick up Chicks

I love finding different ways to use adaptive chopsticks. They are such a great addition to many of the fine motor games that we play with children in OT. This is one great tool!

Therapy Corner: 

I love using adaptive chopsticks to teach children the proper way to isolate the correct fingers and strengthen the correct muscles that they need for a proper pincer grasp.

Just make sure that they hold the chopsticks with their thumb and 2 first fingers and all other fingers are tucked in the hand. If the chopsticks are to heavy for little hands to hold, I allow them to use all other fingers however they MUST keep an open web space (i.e. the space between the thumb and index finger that forms a nice open circle when this tool is held correctly)

Working on these muscles is a great way to help children strengthen the muscles used for an efficient grasp on pencils!

What you Need:

  • Construction paper cut out in the shape of a flower or a nest
  • Adaptive Chopsticks
  • Mini Chicks


The Activity:

Write the alphabet in disorder on one side of the flower. Ask your child to circle the letters of the alphabet in order. Making small circles helps children work on finger movements to ensure a dynamic grasp (rather than a static whole arm movement grasp).


For every letter that your child circles in the correct order, they get one second for each letter. They then turn over the flower and get to place that many chicks using the chopsticks.



Fine Motor Activities

10 Ways to use Easter Eggs with Kids

1- Vowel Search: Write a vowel and hide it in an egg, once your child finds an egg with a letter they must name the 2 sounds this letter makes and/or write a word for each of the sounds made by that vowel.


2- Use a grabber to pick up eggs to work on grip strength or finger strength depending on the grabber used.


3- Match cards to eggs. This is a great activity for visual perceptual skills and graded finger control (children learn to be gentle with fingers) Check out this activity at Make and Takes


4-Draw dots on one half of the egg and a number on the other half  ex: 3 dots for number 3. Ask children to find the match (Make sure to use different colored halves so that children are not relying on matching color) Check it out at Room Mom 101


5-Use a scooter  board to find matches on either side of the room.

6- Walk across a balance beam holding an egg on a spoon or with 2 spoons.

7-Match uppercase and lowercase letters on either half of the eggs.

8- Bunny and friends: Hide the name of animal in each egg and as children find them, they must imitate the animal walk


9-Math match: Write numbers on both halves of the eggs. Ask children to match top and bottom by same color. They must then add both numbers and put that amount of beads in it. ex: 3 + 4= 7 (put 7 beads in that egg)

10-Hide foam letter stickers in the eggs, when children find an egg, they peel the sticker, place it on paper and write a word that starts with that letter or have them find the letters of their name and then copy it.


Fine Motor Activities Visual Perceptual Activities

Easter Finger Work TIC-TAC-TOE

I love going to the Dollar Store and finding great (inexpensive) tools that I can use to create purposeful activities.

Therapy Corner:

When working on fine motor skills it is important that your child learn how to use both sides of his hand simultaneously and in a coordinated manner. In a nutshell, you want the first 2-3 fingers of the hand (which includes the thumb aka the radial side of the hand) to do the work/movement while the last 2-3 digits of the hand work as stabilizers (aka. ulnar side of the hand). This is an important pre-cursor to a good pencil grasp. Think about it, the first few digits of the hand hold the pencil and move during handwriting activities while the ulnar side of the hand pushes down into the table to stabilize the paper.

With that said, we work on:

Nesting Skills (i.e. picking up small items with fingers and placing them in the palm of the hand)

Retrieving Skills (i.e transferring small items from the palm of the hand to the tip of the fingers)

Pincer Grasp Strength (i.e. using the thumb and one or 2 other fingers to pick up items. This is a precursor to a functional tripod grasp for writing)

What I also love about Tic-Tac-Toe is that it’s a great visual perceptual and  problem solving game!

You will need:

  • Tic Tac Toe board from dollar store
  • Putty

The Activity:

Ask you child to place putty behind the board game (this will provide resistance to strengthen little fingers and helps keep the pegs upr

The goal is to work on nesting and retrieving skills therefore,
Place all the pegs in your child’s hand and have them use the same hand to wiggle one peg at a time out of their palm (retrieving)

When one round is done, ask your child to pick up one peg at a time and keep them in the palm of their hand (nesting)

Pincer grasp: when pushing a peg into the board, make sure your child uses only their thumb and index finger.

For children with more advanced finger skills, I like to give them one peg at a time from the bottom and have them flip it using their fingers to hold it from the head of the bunny before pushing it into the peg board.


Fine Motor Activities

Spray Those Hats

Therapy Corner:

As OTs we are always looking for activities to improve hand strength and grasp but at the same time, we want children to have the awareness of how much force  to use with their hands depending on the task. This is known as graded control. This activity provides the opportunity to work on both!

You Will Need:

  • 6 mini plastic St-Patty’s hats (I got these at the dollar store)
  • Spray bottle

The Activity:

Do this activity outside…It’s gonna get wet!! Ask children to form a pyramid using all 6 hats. This will require them to be gentle while placing the hats because they fall easily.


Then, using a spray bottle filled with water, have children spray the hats until they break the pyramid! This will work on hand strength! Kids love this outdoor water-fun activity!



Rainbow Words

You Will Need:

  • Different colored alphabet stickers
  • Different colored markers
  • Lined paper (you can print here)

The Activity:

Fun and simple way to work on handwriting skills. I begin by asking children to find the letters of their name and stick them one under the other on lined paper.


Then pick markers that are the same color as each letter and have children write or copy words that begin with each letter of their name. This makes a fun and colorful worksheet!




Gross Motor Activities

Magnetic Coin Rainbow Pick-up

Here is another wonderful activity that I like to do with a magnetic wand and bingo chips. Kids love the magical effect of the magnet 🙂 it never gets old!

Therapy corner (skills addressed):

Core strength/Coordination: The use of a scooter board is great to work on skills such as bilateral coordination. The reciprocal movement that children do with their feet in sitting or with their hands in prone (on the tummy) to maneuver the scooter works on bilateral coordination of the upper and lower extremities. Furthermore, using a scooter board helps strengthen core muscles. In prone, children work on strengthening their lower back muscles and neck extension muscles. While in sitting, the abdominal muscles are being used (especially when I asked children to hold their arms above their head).

When working on fine motor skills it is important that your child learn how to use both sides of his hand simultaneously and in a coordinated manner. In a nutshell, you want the first 2-3 fingers of the hand (which includes the thumb aka the radial side of the hand) to do the work/movement while the last 2-3 digits of the hand work as stabilizers (aka. ulnar side of the hand).

This activity also works on:

Nesting Skills (i.e. picking up small items with fingers and placing them in the palm of the hand)

Retrieving Retrieving (i.e transferring small items from the palm of the hand to the tip of the fingers)

Graded finger movements: I noticed that with children who are a bit “rough” with their fingers, it  is challenging to place the coins gently on the page without disturbing the other coins. This is what we call graded control. In other words, how much force to be used for different tasks. For ex: opening up a drawer filled with rocks does not require the same amount of force as opening a drawer of feathers 🙂

You will need:

  • Scooter board
  • Magnetic wand (available at MissMancy’s SHOP)
  • Different colored bingo chips (available at MissMancy’s SHOP)
  • Print out of rainbow (I got this one on line at: Making Learning Fun)

The Activity:

Spread out all bingo coins across the room.
Ask your child to lay on his tummy over the scooter and place the wand next to them on the scooter board so that both hands can be used. Note: you can also do this activity with your child sitting on the scooter board to work on other muscles (refer t

Name a color and ask the child to pick up all coins of that color using the wand.


They then come back to the table and place the coins on the rainbow .

I like to use this part of the activity to work on in hand manipulation skills. This can be done by asking your child to hold all the coins in one hand and place them one by one on the rainbow    By  using fingers from the same hand to ” wiggle” the coin out. (Retrieving skills)
Continue until all coins are found and  placed on the rainbow.


During cleanup get your child to work on nesting skills by picking up one coin at a time with the same hand and putting the coins away after every 8-10 coins they’ve picked up.

I usually like to go the fun way and have them clean up the rainbow with the magnetic wand!!

Fine Motor Activities

Find the Four Leaf Clover

Therapy Corner:

I love using adaptive chopsticks to teach children the proper way to isolate the correct fingers and strengthen the correct muscles that they need for a proper pincer grasp.

Just make sure that they hold the chopsticks with their thumb and 2 first fingers and all other fingers are tucked in the hand. If the chopsticks are to heavy for little hands to hold, I allow them to use all other fingers however they MUST keep an open web space (i.e. the space between the thumb and index finger that forms a nice open circle when this tool is held correctly)

Working on these muscles is a great way to help children strengthen the muscles used for an efficient grasp on pencils!

You Will Need:

  • Adaptive Chopsticks (can be purchased here at MissMancy’s SHOP)
  • 12 Three-leaf clovers and 1 Four-leaf clover. I purchased these foam ones but you can make them out of cardboard paper
  • 13 green beads
  • Hot glue gun

The Activity:

Begin by cutting out clovers from cardboard paper or use ready-made foam clovers. I simply cut one out and added a fourth leaf to it.


You can then glue on beads in the center of the clover.

Spread all clovers on the table or on the floor for a fun obstacle course and ask children to pick up the clovers by the bead using the chopsticks!


Whoever finds the four-leaf clover wins!!!!!


Other Ways to Play:

  • You can hide the clovers and play a treasure hunt game
  • Place them along a balance beam and have children pick them up and hold on to them to place them in a pot at the end of the beam. They must hold using the chopsticks at all times.
  • Make different colored clovers and as children pick them up they can sort them by color
  • Spread them out in the room and children pick them up while laying or sitting on a scooter
Gross Motor Activities

Scooter board Rainbow Game

Therapy Corner:

This activity is so much fun! It is colorful, happy and can be adapted to meet sooo many OT goals!

The use of a scooter board is great to work on skills such as bilateral coordination. The reciprocal movement that children do with their feet in sitting or with their hands in prone (on the tummy) to maneuver the scooter works on bilateral coordination of the upper and lower extremities. Furthermore, using a scooter board helps strengthen core muscles. In prone, children work on strengthening their lower back muscles and neck extension muscles. While in sitting, the abdominal muscles are being used (especially when I asked children to hold their arms above their head).

This rainbow activity requires minimal cutting skills. Children simply have to cut along a straight line. For younger children I ask them to cut one sheet at a time. However for older children, I stack all colors of construction paper for this activity and ask them to cut out a strip. This strengthens hands and also requires more advanced bilateral coordination skills (holding all the sheets and still cutting along a straight line)

You Will Need:

  • Scooter board
  • Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue and Violet Construction Paper
  • Scissors
  • Stapler

The Activity:

Ask children to cut along a straight line for each of the colored construction paper to make 1.5 inch wide strips.


Then have children cut each colored strip to be shorter than the previous color in the following order: Red is the longest, then orange, followed by yellow, green, blue and the shortest one will be violet.

Spread out all the colored strips in the room (make sure to place them in random order)

In prone on the scooter: ask children to use arms only in a reciprocal manner  to maneuver the scooter to get one strip at a time from longest to shortest. Make sure that your child places the strip of paper on the scooter before bringing it to you, that way he can still use both hands to move the scooter.


In sitting on the scooter: ask children to move feet with reciprocal leg movements to pick up one strip at a time from longest to shortest. Make sure that when your child brings back the strip, that he holds it above his head (to tilt the pelvis correctly and activate abdominal muscles)


Once all strips are gathered and that your child has arranged them in descending order,


put all strips together, line up the edges.


Then staple all edges together on both sides. This will make a rainbow!!!!


Fine Motor Activities

St-Patty’s Putty

Therapy Corner:

Putty is one of the best tools to use to improve finger and hand strength. The putty comes in different colors for different resistance however I like to use the medium resistance with my kids.
When a child digs to find items it helps him improve finger strength. At the same time, using their hands and fingers to feel for hidden items helps them work on tactile discrimination. This translates into activities such as closing their own buttons on pants or shirts without visually monitoring their fingers but instead using tactile discrimination to feel their way through the task.

You Will Need:

  • St-Patrick’s themed eraser
  • Putty (You can purchase here at MissMancy’s SHOP)
  • Containers
  • Graphing printout

The Activity:

I like to use small themed erasers that I hide in the putty and ask children to look for them.

Ask your child to find items on the putty by digging, pulling and kneading.

As they find an item, they mark it on the graph and drop it into a container.

Keep similar items together so they can double check their answers to the markings on the graph to make sure the amounts match!

Fine Motor Activities

St-Pats Coin Flip

Therapy Corner:

When working on fine motor skills it is important that your child learn how to use both sides of his hand simultaneously and in a coordinated manner. In a nutshell, you want the first 2-3 fingers of the hand (which includes the thumb aka the radial side of the hand) to do the work/movement while the last 2-3 digits of the hand work as stabilizers (aka. ulnar side of the hand). This is an important pre-cursor to a good pencil grasp. Think about it, the first few digits of the hand hold the pencil and move during handwriting activities while the ulnar side of the hand pushes down into the table to stabilize the paper.

With that said, we work on:

Nesting Skills (i.e. picking up small items with fingers and placing them in the palm of the hand)

Retrieving Skills (i.e transferring small items from the palm of the hand to the tip of the fingers)

You Will Need:

  • 3 different colored coins (I used gold, green and purple)
  • 3 containers

The Activity:

Place the 3 containers in front of your child and line up 12 coins of different colors in one single line.


Using the thumb and 2 fingers ask your child to flip each coin.

Then ask your child to pick up all gold coins using one hand (nesting)


and drop them one at a time into one container (retrieving). Then ask him to do the same with green and then purple coins.



Visual Perceptual Activities

XOXO Tic-Tac-Toe

You will Need:

  • Dry erase board
  • Dry erase markers

The Activity:

Play XOXO Tic Tac Toe using Valentine colors or play with X and hearts.



Therapy Corner:

Tic Tac Toe is a wonderful Visual perceptual activity to play with children. It works on so many important skills such as motor planning (figure out a strategy), problem solving (how to respond to “opponent’s” strategy). I also like to use this activity for children who work on their diagonals (by making them the X and me the O)


Fine Motor Activities

Beaded Hearts <3 <3 <3

You Will Need:

  • Pipe cleaners
  • Beads

The Activity:

Here is a nice simple beading activity for Valentines.

Begin by asking children to bead different colored beads unto a pipe cleaner. For younger children, I allow them to bead clors as they wish however for older children I make patterns that they need to copy.

Once children string beads on the entire pipe cleaner , twist both ends together.


Then ask children to add one more bead at the tip and wrap the ends of the pipe cleaner around the last bead.


This will create a raindrop shape. Shape the final product into a heart.


Create all sorts of beautiful hearts and hang them around your home!



CIMO Spelling App

Here is a great winter theme App that I like to use with little ones who are learning to spell. This App provides letters in mixed up order and asked children to spell specific words using the letters.

To turn this into an OT session, I ask children to WRITE the words that they get correctly on a whiteboard. This way, I work on handwriting. Also note, I always use a stylus (with a gripper on it) during all iPad games so that children practice correct grasp on writing utensils.

Fine Motor Activities Sensory Activities

Penguin fish feed:

You will need:

  • An empty Tissue box
  • Black, white and Orange Construction paper
  • Straws
  • OR Adaptive chopsticks (You can purchase here at MissMancy’s SHOP)
  • Tissue paper

The Activity:

This is a nice way to work on oral motor skills and awareness of breath.

I created a penguin using a square Kleenex box.

I cut out fish from tissue paper and write letters of the alphabet using a pencil.

I then play as follows:

1-    Race between 2 children: Put 6 fish in front of each child and see who can be the first to put all the fish in the penguins mouth.

2-    Ask you child to spell different words by picking up the fish with the straw (inhale from the mouth) and placing them in the penguins mouth.

3-    Ask children to pick up specific letters or to pick up the one that sounds like or to pick up the first letter of the word etc…

If children have difficulty using the straw and controlling their breaths or even motor planning the sustained inhale, I make little balls out of tissue paper and have them use adaptive chopsticks to pick up the letters and feed the penguin.


“I’m Going to Play in the snow and I’m putting on my…”

The Activity:

This is a fun way to work on Auditory Memory.

You can play with one child or a whole classroom.

The idea of this game is to add words to be remembered and retrieved.

Start by saying:

“I’m going to play in the snow and I’m putting on my COAT” then ask each child to add an article of clothing by repeating your sentence and adding the clothing they want

ex: “I’m going to play in the snow and I’m putting on my COAT  and HAT” continue by taking turns adding clothing and remembering each article that was added.

Ex: “I’m going to play in the snow and I’m putting on my COAT AND HAT and SCARF”

You lose if you forget one of the articles of clothing.




Fine Motor Activities

Beading the Icicles

You will need:

  • 10 Pipe cleaners
  • White and blue beads
  • Foam stickers

The Activity:

This is a great way to work on fine motor skills and bilateral coordination with little children that have difficulty beading, while working on numbers concept.

I place a foam sticker at the top of every pipe cleaner and write the numbers 1 to 10.

Children then have to place the correct number of beads on each pipe cleaner to create icicles. (beading on bilateral coordination and neat pincer grasp). For children with more advanced fine motor skills, I ask them to pick up the correct number of beads by nesting and hold them in the same hand while beading. They retrieve beads one at a time with the same hand to work on retrieving skills.

I then secure the beads and ask children to line up the icicles in the ascending order of length without referring to the numbers at the top.

Once they line up the icicles, they can check their answers by flipping over the icicle to look at the numbers.

Therapy Corner

Nesting and retrieving  are important in hand manipulation skills as they affect the intrinsic and extrinsic muscles of the hand. Furthermore, holding beads in the ulnar side of the hand while the radial side of the hand is still beading, separating both sides of the hand, an important part of hand dexterity, so that one side acts as a stabilizer as the other does the work.


Fine Motor Activities

Snowflake Letters:

You Will Need:

  • Construction paper
  • Markers
  • Winter themed hole puncher

The Activity:

This is a great activity for little ones to work on grip strength while learning their letters.

Ask children to Use a hole puncher to make snowflakes.  The squeezing will strengthen little hands while mimicking movement they will require for cutting skills.

Ask children to write the first letter of their name on construction paper.

Have them stick the snowflakes along the letter. Picking up the little snowflakes will work on pincer grasp.

Fine Motor Activities

Lacing Winter Hats

You will need:

  • Construction paper
  • Hole puncher
  • String/yarn/shoelaces/ribbon with a piece of tape wrapped on one end
  • Markers, stickers, stamps
  • Hole stickers

The Activity:

I love this activity because it’s pretty simple but works on so many wonderful skil