I have a confession: I love the Dollar Store. I just do.

The problem is that it’s impossible to leave without a few extra things.

BUT – that’s how I ended up with my latest and greatest Valentine’s Motor Centers.  

I swear I just went in there for a couple of birthday cards, but when I saw the “seasonal section” filled with Valentine’s Goodies, I couldn’t resist.

These adorable pink and red Valentine’s Day “table scatter” hearts were the perfect size for little hands to work on grasping. I just started adding to my basket.  


Why resist? It’s for the children!

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Super Simple Hand Strengthening Motor Centers

All in all, I ended up with:

  • Valentine’s Day smelly stickers
  • Red and pink plastic heart table scatter
  • Red, pink, and white pom poms
  • Assorted size foam sparkly hearts in pink, white, and red

Total: $4.00 – and everything is reusable except for the smelly stickers.

I often set up little “motor centers” for my students to work on during my OT sessions. Centers that can be easily changed are my favorite because I can work on different goals with different kids.

It’s important to change up centers so that they seem “new and exciting”, even if they are very similar to centers I’ve had in the past. So, I switched out my typical marbles and spiky balls for some Valentine’s themed trinkets and came up with these three centers. I know my kids will love them!

3 Super Simple Hand Strengthening Activities

Center #1 – Valentine’s Pom Poms and Clothespins

Clothespins are AWESOME for strengthening the muscles that manipulate a pencil or crayon. Plus, they are super cheap and versatile. I’m kind of obsessed.

Put Valentine’s Day colored pom-poms in a bowl and have your student use the clothespin to pick up the pom poms and transfer them into another bowl.

  • Work on Visual Perception – Sort by color
  • Work on Crossing Midline – Place the bowls on either side of the body to make the child reach across to get the object.

CENTER #2- VALENTINE’S hearts AND kitchen tong sensory bin

One of my favorite tools is my dollar store kitchen tongs. I already had these, but I added some “Valentine’s Smelly stickers” to make them more festive. I put my “table scatter” plastic hearts into a bin with some leftover “snow”. You could also use rice, pasta, or any other sensory material. This is perfect to work on hand strength because the tongs really challenge little hands when they open/close. This is also a great activity to develop pre-cutting skills.

*Try the modifications above to change the goal of the activity or address a different goal.

super simple hand strengthening

CENTER #3- Large, Medium and small VALENTINE’S HEARTS

I always save a couple of empty Valentine’s chocolate boxes for the following year. I love to be “green” and it gets the kids looking forward to the next holiday. Plus, it stops me from buying tons of chocolate every year.  Kind of.  

The dollar store usually has seasonal foam shapes for each holiday. These glittery pink and red foam hearts were especially festive. For a dollar, the bag had a whole bunch of small, medium and large red and pink glitter hearts.

  • Work on Visual Perception – Sort by color or size.  Practice patterns “Pink, red, pink, red” or “large, small, large, small”
  • Work on Crossing Midline – Place the bowls on either side of the body to make the child reach across to get the object.
  • Make it a super simple hand strengthening activity by using tweezers to pick up the foam pieces.

What Valentine’s Motor Activities can you come up with?  Do you have a favorite? Please share!


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