Looking for low-cost tools to use with your clients? You’ve come to the right place! We shared Miss Mancy’s post on Facebook of her top ten OT fine motor tools that cost less than $1. We asked our Facebook friends to share their top tools as well.

 The list is now at about 75 tools that cost less than $1 (if you include the original 10 ideas from Miss Mancy). Even better? We have ideas for both pediatrics and geriatrics (jump to geriatrics).

40+ Occupational Therapy Tools for Pediatrics That Cost Less than $1

Sarah Walsh Gingrich:           

1) Straws--very inexpensive way to work on cutting and stringing "beads" you can make by cutting straws into pieces

2) Pom poms for age-appropriate kids--sorting, using with 3) tweezers, pushing inside a Parmesan cheese container, placing on top of a golf tee

4) Golf tees---stick inside play doh or foam with one's pincher fingers and remove---place marbles or Pom poms on top

5) Hair elastics (one large and one tiny) can be made into a home-made handiwriter pencil grip

6) Hair scrunchies or phone cord bracelets can be used as preparatory tools to mimic the motions needed to open a sock by stretching items open

7) Shaving cream (barbosol brand is cheap and comes out as a foam)

8) Bubble wrap--color some of the bubbles or put stickers on them for visual motor (locating items with cues) can be a good prep for squeezing snaps closed

9) Q-tips and cotton balls can be used dipped in water to trace over letters or shapes on a chalk board. Q-tip painting is also fun

Karen Sboray Langley:

10) Chop sticks - with or without a "helper" (helper can be as simple as a folded piece of paper and rubber band attached at the top to make it more like tongs) I think this tool would be great for adults, but kids love them too. Great fine motor and eye hand coordination task. Pick up pompoms, popcorn, beads, the ideas are endless!!!

Christine DeLoughry Lama:

11) Playing cards (memory/concentration, sorting, etc.),

12) Disposable cups for stacking/unstacking, creating pyramids, sorting by size/color),

13) Old fashioned foam rollers--the foam can be used to adapt kids’ utensils for impaired grasp/tactile input).

14) Tongs to sort/ place items, to practice food serving.

15) Paper plates for improving dexterity to separate them, sort by size/color, counting.

16) Bottled spices and 17) candles for all ages! Memories are so tied to olfactory sense- good for dementia patients. Sometimes cheap bags of rice for sensory bins!

18) Sticky lint remover roller. I like the colored scrubbers for kids to sort who are tactile defensive. Their slightly textured, but dry.

19) Index cards- great for beginning scissor use. Or count into groups of ten and rubber band them.

Angie Merryman-Juergens:

20) Rubber bands and 21) small nerf football, push pins and a cork board all for hand strength. :) These are also good for geriatric patients...

Carrie 'Martin' Hager:

22) Clothes pins- grasp, strength, reaching task

23) Marbles and 24) Ice cube trays- place marbles or other small objects in trays to work on fine motor, matching, sorting

25) Bubbles- who doesn't love bubbles!!

26) Mix glue and borax to make gack. It's a science experiment and you can also use it as theraputty

Jordan Jackson Wright:

27) Nose bulbs - squeeze to blow air on cotton balls to work on hand strengthening. You can have a cotton ball race.

28) Velcro - put on the bottom of desks to use for functional sensory fidget in the classroom.

29) Balloons - balloon toss with hands or you can use pool noodles or tennis racket

Allison Gonzalez        

30) I use coins for in hand manipulation--first I'll put 2 in their hand (say, dime and penny; then ask them to hand you one or the other), then grade it by adding coins...

James Sherwood:

31) Picking up Cheerios and putting them on a straw or toothpick.

Mary Ellen Bradshaw:

32) 1 pound of noodles for .99 cents keeps preschoolers happy scooping, pouring, stirring - good early hand skills :) Dry or cooked—tactile sensory fun.

Karen Dobyns:

33) Phone books - tear out a page, crumple it up in one hand, then feed the "hungry shark" aka recycling bin.

34) Colanders to make "alien hats" by using and 35) pipe cleaners through the holes in any configuration...adding beads into that is a plus.

36) Styrofoam from electronic equipment - use toothpicks, skewers, cocktail stirrers, golf tees, whatever, and make "castles". The weirder the shape the better.

Linda Struckmeyer:

37) Shoe laces, not just for tying shoes

Erin Elwell Rich:

38) Poster tack. Much cheaper than theraputty and great for hand strengthening and as a fidget tool.

Jeri Lyn Cole:

39) Dollar Tree broom and dust pan to sweep up a bag of beans or macaroni.

Get ten more from Miss Mancy’s original post.

20+ Occupational Therapy Tools for Geriatrics That Cost Less than $1

Sarah Walsh Gingrich:

40) Anything kitchen related--opening and closing bags or cereal boxes, bags of oatmeal, instant mix pudding,

41) Unscrewing lids--requires a lot of pressure grading and bilateral coordination

42) Save old makeup containers for ladies to open, twist, close, etc.

43) Spray bottle is a great idea! Cleaning

44) Putting push pins into cork to hang pictures or notes

45) If they have pets, opening cans of food or scooping food or reusable box of beans (some good wrist pronation/supination and pinching)

46) Thrift store earrings/jewelry---open and close clasps

47) Hiding pieces of a puzzle (target dollar section) in dollar store Tupperware and having them open the containers to find pieces

Sarah Torres:

48) You can get fake flower arrangement supplies at the dollar store for geriatrics

Jackie Gibbons:          

49) Prescription bottles have the residents open them to improve grip strength.

50) Velcro to practice opening and closings to simulate dressing.

51) Clothesline and rope to help improve bilateral hand use crossing midline and standing tolerance by hanging up clothes, etc.

52) Cooking utensils to use as intended or to use in activities for example cutting putty with a dull kitchen knife for bilateral hand use and finger strength

Lidette Fernandez:     

53) Sorting buttons, 54) dominoes, 55) scrabble letters, and 56) cards

57) I used from the dollar store BBQ tongs as a reacher, I have one in my kitchen.

58) Cookie cutters and play dough!

“Most patients won’t mind doing this if you explain the rationale behind the acts! For more functional geriatric acts I just work in whatever they need to have done—actually cooking, laundry, making beds, organizing drawers in kitchen and bedrooms—the actual home acts.”

Julie DeMott:

59) Nuts and bolts of different sizes to screw together and 60) I put them in an old peanut butter jar so they have to unscrew that too.  

61) Old baby clothes - some dementia patients become very engaged when asked to fold them and dress/undress a doll. Those little snaps are hard to open/close. I've brought in old military uniforms of mine for men with a service history (and others as well) to button/unbutton. If you live near a base your thrift store most likely has some camo-type shirts. They are fairly difficult to button, and seeing the uniform brings up all kinds of memories to reminisce about. 

62) Make cookies with tube cookie dough. Use it like theraputty where they pinch it and roll into balls (in hand manipulation, not using a table) before placing on the sheet for baking. If they can't eat them, they are often proud to share them. I have them wear gloves throughout.

Mary Thelander Hill:

63) Can make no cook play dough for their grand-kids. If they don't have grand kids, then they're making no cook thera-putty for themselves. I use the denture cups at my Rehab to hold the different colors, or you can use zip bags. Great hand strengthening, and it's a kitchen task you can do even if you don't have a kitchen. http://www.bestrecipes.com.au/recipe/no-cook-play-dough-L2119.html

Joan Allan Smith:

64) Strawberry stem pincher

65) Party prep: stretch then blow up balloons, rip tape off dispenser then apply to streamers and tape them on walls/doors/chairs depending on balance and shoulder flexibility, create table centerpieces with whatever is available and build endurance/balance/rom/crossing midline/sequence. 

Alyssa Kerbis Stead:

66) For fine motor in geriatrics...I use an old container from 35mm film. Cut a slice in the lid. Have the PT put pennies in the container. Bilateral coordination, strength, fine motor, ROM.

To comment, please log in to OT Connections (it's free to join!).