Claire had a genius moment last week and busted out a sensory motor lesson plan for a group of preschoolers that I thought was SO AMAZING!! I think you will, too!
The kids loved pretending to be fish flopping all over the dock, feeding the fish after using their super fingers to collect food, and catching flying fish with every ounce of bilateral coordination and hand-eye coordination that they could muster. Check out what we did! This would be the perfect push-in lesson plan for therapists who are interested in providing integrative services in the classroom.
Fish Themed Sensory Motor Lesson Plan
Feed the Fish Fine Motor Activity
1 || Draw a school of fish on a large piece of paper and tape it to the wall at the top of a small flight of stairs. Or have kids draw their own tank of fish!
2 || Rip off lots of pieces of tape and place them all over the floor and at different heights on the wall at the bottom of the stairs.
3 || Tell the kids that the tape is “fish food” and that there are some very hungry fish at the top of the stairs who need to be fed!
4 || Have kids use their strong little fingers to pull the pieces of tape from the wall and floor (one at a time) and then climb the stairs to place the pieces of tape on the drawing of the fish…feeding the fish!
All of this bending, climbing, reaching, pulling, and pushing is awesome for strengthening hands as well as legs and core! This activity would also be fun to do with small bits of shiny duct tape to create create the scales of a rainbow fish at the top of the stairs!
Floppy Fish Sensory/Gross Motor Activity
What happens to fish when they accidentally jump out of the water and onto the dock? The answers that we got to this question were hilarious — “they scream”, “they bounce”, “they get back in the water”.
1 || Have all of the kids lie down on the floor on their bellies and pretend to swim like fish by lifting their arms, legs and heads up off of the floor (some of you may recognize this as “Superman”).
2 || After a few seconds, call out “fish out of water!” and have the kids roll and flop around all over the floor, pretending they’re on the dock.
3 || After a few seconds of rolling and flopping, call out “swim fish!” and have kids return to “swimming” in the water.
This activity elicited tons of giggling, a bit of whining (swimming can be hard for little fish) and some major core strengthening and motor planning!
Flying Fish Gross Motor Activity
This next game challenges hand eye coordination, balance, motor planning, and bilateral coordination.
1 || Grab some rolled up socks, beanbags, or small lightweight ball pit balls, a bucket, and a hula hoop.
2 || Place the hula hoop on the ground as the “pond” and have one child stand in the middle of the hoop. This helps them maintain their body in one position in space so they can focus on catching fish in the bucket
3 || Stand about 10’ feet away and toss fish (beanbags, balls, or rolled socks) to the child standing in the pond. The goal is for them to catch each flying fish in their bucket by moving the bucket (not his or her entire body) to catch them.
Start easy by throwing the fish directly at them and then gradually tossing outside of their midline to encourage midline crossing and bilateral coordination.
This is just an example of how combining fine and gross motor activities with a common theme can lead to 30 minutes of amazing fun for kids! Look at all the developmental skills that were packed into the 3 activities above!!
For Virtual Sessions:
All of the activities above would be easy to facilitate during a virtual therapy session! Ask the caregiver to have the list of simple supplies on hand ahead of time (tape, paper, markers, bean bags/rolled socks/balls). They’ll need to help set up the feed the fish activity (and probably supervise the child on the stairs) and you’ll need their help to facilitate the flying fish activity too. From there, you can provide verbal instructions and modeling for how to complete each activity.