Today on the blog, I would like to introduce Kim who is an occupational therapist whom I "met" on Instagram! She shares her favourite toy and activity ideas to support learning through play on IG and her website Preferred Therapy Toys. Kim is sharing with us about "ocular motor skills" and she has some wonderful activity suggestions to address these skills! I'm looking forward to trying these out with my OT kids this term! Thanks so much Kim for sharing this with the YKOT readers!
As an Occupational Therapist working in the school setting, we support many children with their ocular motor skills, as these skills are important for reading and writing development. Ocular motor skills are your "eye movement skills" including:-
I also like to look at "visual fixations" - ability for eyes to maintain visual attention to a stationary item.
In the school environment, ocular motor skills are important to address because they are foundational skills for visual motor skills (hands and eyes working together to complete tasks) and also are essential when reading, writing and copying from the board. If your child seems to be having difficulty with their vision/eye skills, I would first recommend having their vision checked by an optometrist or ophthalmologist, to rule out the need for glasses/acuity issues.
Here are some activity ideas to work on ocular motor skills; some of these activities address visual motor skills as well, as they often go hand in hand.
1. Popsicle Stick Reading - Put different colored circle stickers, or draw circles with different colors down a popsicle stick (see picture below) and have student hold this vertically. They can say the colors they see in order from top to bottom, you can also then turn the stick sideways and read from left to right. Try to have kids keep their head straight and not use their finger to hold their place (only hold finger at tip of popsicle stick). You can work up to letters or even sight words as well with this activity and start with wider popsicle sticks and move to thinner popsicle sticks.
2. Ball activity with letters on ball - Get an inexpensive medium sized ball (I usually get mine at the dollar store) and write letters on it (see picture below). Put a target on a wall (could mark an X with painters tape or use a large sticker) and have your child toss the ball with both hands to hit the target. Then when he/she catches the ball, say the first letter they see. you can also use the ball to have the child move the ball to find the letters of the alphabet in order. This activity works on visual motor skills with tossing/catching the ball as well as visual fixations and saccades.
3. Scarf Toss/Catch, Popping Bubbles, Balloon Volleyball - These fun activities are great for younger kids or children that have trouble with ball skills. These activities work on visual tracking and visual motor skills/eye-hand coordination in a play based environment.
4. Alphabet or Number Sequencing Activities - I love using the alphabet or numbers, either by using puzzle pieces or putting numbers/letters on sticky notes and spreading them around on the wall (or floor for puzzle pieces). I then have my students find these in order. This works on visual scanning and sequencing.
5. Slap Tap Game - This is a fun yet tricky game that takes some motor coordination as well. Movements are complete in correlation with the letter presented:
p - right arm up
b - stomp right foot
q - left arm up
d - stomp left foot
These letters are then placed in rows and students complete these together reading from left to right i.e.:
p b q d d b p q
You can also make also make it trickier and do two body part motions together (see picture below) or you could incorporate music with this activity.
6. Ipad/Tablet apps -
8. Worksheets - Mazes, dot to dots and word searches are great activities for working on visual motor and ocular motor skills. There are many free printable worksheets available in these areas.
Accommodations - Accommodations are supports that help your child to complete a task more easily with use of adaptive strategies. If your student has trouble with copying information from the board, offer copying from near point instead and use a marker item to hold place when copying (ie. eraser, paper clip, tongue depressor). When reading, you can have your child use their finger or index card to help with keeping place.
I hope this information has been helpful and that you have found some new activity ideas for ocular motor development. :)
By Kim Heyer (OTR/L)
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Hi, I'm Cindy and I am an Occupational Therapist. I enjoy working creatively with children to see them reach their potential. Read more about me here.
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Disclaimer: The information on this site is general in nature and should be used for educational and entertainment purposes. The activities are safe for most children, however, you should consult an Occupational Therapist or health professional to address specific movement, sensory or other medical conditions. This blog does not replace formal therapeutic professional advice given by a health professional or medical practitioner. Reviews and endorsements of products will only be made based on my expertise and personal opinion; and deemed worthy of such endorsement. The opinions shared in sponsored content will always be my own and not that of the advertising company or brand. Content, advertising space or posts will be clearly identified if paid, affiliated or sponsored. Affiliate links may be found throughout this website in advertising. This means that if you follow through with a purchase from these links, Your Kids OT will receive a percentage of the sale. Your Kids OT undertakes to meet the requirements of the "Social Media Policy" as published by Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA). Further information about this policy can be found here.
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