One of my favorite tools for building a whole bunch of skills— hand strengthening, finger strengthening, hand-eye coordination, and then copying from a visual model, and occupationally meaningful writing— are these toys which I originally found in a closet and have since googled to find out are called “Zoomorphs” and, more specifically, “Dinomorphs”.
They’re basically a bunch of dinosaur body parts. They can be assembled “correctly” into four matching dinosaurs, which is often what kids will do for the first five minutes of having discovered them in one of the stations in my room. Then they can be assembled in any one of a zillion different creative or silly combinations, which is usually what we do for the subsequent [20 minutes or 20 sessions]. 😉
One of the things I really love to do is to make silly dinosaurs with a child and then suggest that we preserve that specific silly dinosaur in an encyclopedia/dinosaur discovery log/“Pokédex but for dinosaurs”. Then I suggest that we draw it as we created it (there’s the copying from a visual model!) and then I usually invite them to make up a name for the dinosaur and either I’ll spell it for them if they are inclined to write it or I’ll model writing it down for them.
I had one student in particular a few years ago who absolutely adored this activity and we made different iterations of dinosaurs, drawing them and then naming them, for literally weeks on end. So much snapping, gripping, pinching, pulling—then eventually so much drawing, tracing, and writing!
[Image descriptions: The images show other configurations of dinosaur pieces snapped together. One has no head, but four tails stuck into the body of a spinosaurus as though they are its spines. One has the long wavy body of a pterodactyl but with a T-Rex head and stubby little blue legs. One has no arms or wings, but back legs like a chicken or ostrich and two tails to make arms/wings out to either side. End descriptions.]