Fine Motor Friday: Put a Cork in It!

In case you needed an excuse to drink more wine…

Save those wine corks! They have so many possibilities for uses in kids projects. All you need for this great fine motor activity are some wine corks and pieces of cut up pool noodle (which you will also fine a million uses for).


I presented this activity simply by offering a bowl full of corks and some pool noodle pieces set out on Trevor’s activity tray (aka a cookie sheet from the Dollar Tree 😉 ). I then invited him to put the corks inside the pool noodles. This is a great way to work on bilateral coordination, as the child has to use both hands to do this. Trevor had a lot of fun with this 🙂 You could also make this into a pegging-type game, where you stack pool noodles and corks together to see how tall you can make a tower. Trevor opted not to try that though. I always give him choices when we do an OT type activity.

20140606-132741.jpgWhat are your favorite uses for pool noodles outside of the pool?



DIY Outdoor Reading Den for Kids

My kids love books and they love being outside, so I thought, “Why not combine the two?”  Given their fair skin we tend to play in the shade, so I decided to make them a cozy little outdoor hideaway where we could snuggle up and enjoy a few books.  The best part?  You can make it with items found at the Dollar Tree!  I love me a good frugal DIY project 🙂

All you need is a hula hoop, a shower curtain, and a pack of shower curtain rings.  For $3 and in only a few minutes you have a fun, inviting outdoor getaway spot!

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First you hook the shower curtain to the hula hoop using the rings.  Once every ring has been used, tie the two rings from each end together with some garden twine (or yarn, string, ribbon, whatever you have laying around) to keep the top secure.  I then used the same garden twine to tie the hula hoop down from a tree branch.  Add in a few pillows and a comfy quilt and you have a spot that is begging to be lounged around in.

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Both of my kids loved this!  I couldn’t believe how much my daughter enjoyed the spot too, given that she’s always on the go and usually wanders around after a book or two.  The first time my kids saw this we sat and read books for over an hour!  My kids never attend to one task for that long.

Even our puppy wanted to come play in it!

This is a definite must-do activity to add to that Summer Bucket List!  What are your favorite fun and frugal outdoor activities for kids?

Eyedropper Excavation

Trevor loves baking soda and vinegar activities.  We must do a variation of this classic chemical reaction almost weekly!

For this activity I poured some baking soda into muffin tins, and then added just enough water to make a thick paste.  I buried a few small plastic toys in each spot.  I set the tray out to harden for a few days.


After the discs hardened, I filled a container with vinegar and added an eyedropper.  Eyedroppers are such great tools for strengthening fine motor skills in kids.



After he had loosened up all of the toys through bubbly fun, I gave him a spoon to help scoop the toys out.  (More great fine motor work!)


He had a blast with this activity!  What is your favorite baking soda and vinegar activity?

Paint to Learn!

I love any activity that is not only fun for my kids, but educational too.  This was also ridiculously simple to set up, which is always a bonus.

For this project I pulled out my fantastic Melissa and Doug Finger Paint Paper (not sponsored, I just love it…although if Melissa and Doug wanted to sponsor me I wouldn’t be opposed 😉 ).  This paper is great because it’s thick and doesn’t tear when kids add a lot of paint to the paper.

All I did was take a trusty Sharpie and draw shapes on the paper for my daughter, and some of the Dolch Pre-K sight words on my son’s paper.


I taped the paper to our kitchen table and let them paint away with some homemade flour paint (though you could just as easily use store bought).  My daughter still tends to eat a lot of our art projects 😉


This activity was great because we got to talk a lot about what they were painting on (identifying words and shapes).  Fine motor, language, and sensory skills all tackled in one simple project = a total win!

Coffee Filter Flower Garden

We absolutely love our sliding glass door.  It is such a great location to do all sorts of fine motor and play activities.  Recently I set up a coffee filter garden for Trevor to water.  He had sooooo much fun!  And using a spray bottle (plus working on that all-important vertical surface!) is great for improving strength.

On the inside of the door I drew the stem and leaves of the flowers using a green window crayon.  Then on the outside of the door I taped up some coffee filters that I had dotted with our dot markers.  Finally I gave him a spray bottle filled with water and let him go at it!


He had a great time “watering his garden”.  After he had sprayed literally every single inch of the coffee filters, he wanted to go inside and spray away the stems too.


I hope your kids enjoy this activity as much as Trevor did!


Tic Tac Drop

This is a simple, DIY fine motor activity to work on the pincer grasp. Trevor’s school OT sent home a list of activities for us to work on, and I’m going to try and share some of them on the blog. But as anyone who reads this blog knows (if there are any of you still out there, lol), life is busy and this blog takes the backseat to everything else. I always love finding new activities online though so hopefully I’ll do a better job at blogging these ideas 🙂

What you need:

* 3 larger straws
* Empty Parmesan cheese shaker container (we use this a lot)
* Tape
* Tic Tacs

How to make it:

The only guidance I had on this was “drop Tic Tacs down a straw”. So if you don’t have the above materials on hand I’m sure you could come up with a different way to achieve the same result :). I took three straws, taped them together near the middle with duct tape, and then inserted them into the parmesan cheese shaker lid. Then I screwed the lid back on and set it next to a container filled with 20 Tic Tacs.


We counted the Tic Tacs as he dropped them in, both to work on counting skills and because it helps distract him a little from the difficulty he has with his pincer grasp. I loved that he was forced to use his pincer grasp with this activity. We’ve dropped other objects down straws or the Parmesan cheese shaker holes before, but they were longer and he could cheat on his grip. There’s no room to cheat using Tic Tacs!


All Natural Chocolate Slime

When I saw this new Borax-free slime recipe on Pinterest from Blog Me Mom, I knew I had to try it. Trevor enjoys slime, but I’m not super comfortable letting him play with it. I loved that this recipe used an edible, all natural ingredient as it’s base. But given the fact that he’s sensitive to artificial food dyes, I’ve also been looking for ways to make our sensory activities dye-free as well. The original recipe contained food dye and I wanted to find a substitute for that. Since the kids both loved the hot chocolate cloud dough we made, I figured the perfect way to make this slime recipe all natural was to dye and scent it with cocoa powder!


To make it, all you need is psyllium fiber (found near the Metamucil), cocoa powder, and water. Combine 1 tablespoon psyllium powder, 1 tablespoon cocoa powder, and 1 cup of water in a very large, microwave-safe glass bowl. Cook on high for about five minutes, or until your desired texture is reached (ours took nearly six minutes to cook). It does bubble up a lot, so make sure you keep a close eye on it and stop the microwave before it bubbles over. When it settles back down you just start the microwave back up again. After it’s cooked, stir it well and make sure it cools a little before giving it to your kids, as it’s obviously hot from the microwave. Then let them play away! And know that the ingredients are all natural and safe for them 🙂

Trevor enjoyed pulling it apart:


And delivering chocolates from “Hershey, Pennsylvania to Washington state” on his toy train and truck. He loves geography and learning facts about states.


The reason why I want something all natural and edible for the kids to use in play:


Paige also had a great time with the slime:


We had fun pretending to mix up our batch of chocolate together: