Q-Tip Painting is an excellent way to practice fine motor skills and develop sensory function. It helps a dysregulated child feel calm, and it’s fun!
My youngest son tried to go back to occupational therapy.
After one session, I was 100% sure we would not be going back.
It’s a long story and one that I am sure to write a post about. The short version is that it was about as appropriate for a 12-year-old boy as dropping him off in a toddler class at the local daycare.
Why Q-Tip Painting?
You may be asking, what does this project have to do with our ill-fated OT appointment?
Well, the only reason we were there in the first place was to work on strengthening my son’s fine motor skills and hand muscles (to help improve dysgraphia). An added goal was to help ease some of the sensory overwhelm he feels when holding and moving a pencil.
As I drove home from the disastrous session, I tried to think of how we could easily accommodate these needs at home, and in ways that are much more likely to result in him actually learning.
As a result, I have been looking for activities we can do together, at home, that can achieve the same result.
You may recall the Australian Deadliest Creatures unit we completed last year. In it, we created all different types of dangerous creatures and used Q-tips to simulate aboriginal art.
Q Tip Painting Activity: Everything You Need To Get Started
What you need for this activity:
Washable paint (any kind works although I think for today, we might try watercolors in addition to our usual kid paints)
Heavy printer paper, watercolor paper or cardstock
Picture Templates (totally optional, but might be fun to try to easier for the perfectionist child)
Q-Tip Painting: A Fine Motor and Sensory Skill Development Activity
The idea is simple.
Your child uses the q-tips to “paint” using dots to form the most of the art work.
Rather than starting with a blank page, which can be super overwhelming (even for me!) I like to print out a template of whatever my kiddo is interested in and then paste it to a more colorful background.
My son then fills in the black template with colorful dots of his own choosing.
In practice, it looks like this.
Q Tip Painting In Practice
This exercise accomplishes both goals we have for him in occupational therapy. It allows him to practice fine motor skills in an age appropriate and fun activity. It also helps to strengthen his tolerance for sensory input in his hands.
Now that we have completed the exercise, I can tell you it definitely met the goal of fine motor practice and sensory input. Plus, it was a kind-of calming activity that was not perceived as babyish or demeaning.