Teaching Letter Formations in Groups Resources

Next Wednesday, October 28, at 7 pm EST , I’ll be hosting a FREE Webinar!

How (& why) to Teach Letter Formations in Groups


Here’s what you need to know:

You can view the Live webinar (and the replay) for FREE on my Youtube page or on my Miss Jaime, O.T.’s Free Webinar’s Page.

( You don’t need to register just to watch).

EVERYONE can access the FREE 32 page digital Teaching Letter Formation in Groups Basics packet here.



(This packet covers all the basic letter groupings that you need to know!)

 

 

If you’d like more than the basics, you can check out my 100+ page digital Letter Formations in Groups Workbook for $14.99.

If you’d like AOTA approved CEUs for the course, you can purchase the assessment and slides for $29.99.

5 Ways to Work on Pencil Grasp Without A Pencil

For an OT in the school system pencil grasp can be a big focus for our students. Knowing how to encourage proper pencil grasp is helpful for all of our young students.

A tripod grasp is functional and it helps with a reduction of pain and hand fatigue.

Many teachers and therapists believe that the dynamic tripod is the only grasp that’s functional. However, there are other functional grasps that are just as sufficient as the tripod grasp.  A tripod grasp does help with more things than just writing like utilizing math manipulatives and engaging in kinesthetic learning with wiki sticks, Play-Doh, and clay.

It’s important  to encourage good pencil grasp early on. After 2nd grade, a grasp becomes “locked in”, and is difficult to change.

How to work on grasp without a pencil

Here are the 5 ways I use to work on pencil grasp with my students.

  Use a Stylus

  • A stylus is convenient to  utilize whenever my students want to engage in an activity on the IPad.  (I am truly passionate about the fact that the students I see have learned to use their index finger so heavily (with technology at an all time high than ever) that the use of a pencil has become very difficult to learn.  Anytime your student is using an IPad, incorporate a stylus. I particularly like the crayon shaped styluses for the younger ones (they are fun and relatable to them).  You can check them out here:

Use Skinny Dry Erase Markers

  • Dry erase markers and chalk are always fun and engaging for the students
  • Writing on a dry erase board/table or utilizing sidewalk chalk
  • Use chalkboard paint to turn any wall or table into a fun writing surface
  • Break the chalk into a shorter piece will aid in enforcing the proper grasp

Magna Doodle & Aqua Doodle

Magna Doodle and Aqua Doodle are awesome tools that make our students feel as if writing and drawing is play and not work (our specialty). Most children haven’t ever seen them.

  • Introduce this tool to draw pre-writing shapes or scribble. They normally come with a short writing utensil (always a plus) and only requires minimal storage space.

A Peg and Clay

Use a short stick (it can be a spare peg, craft stick, etc) to draw in clay, Play-Doh, or shaving cream. You can make this into a creative game with your students. Have them draw a smiley face or a house. Practice shapes and lines.  This works on developing pencil grasp as well as pre-writing skills and visual-motor skills.

Use Fine Motor Toys

There are so many fun fine motor toys to help the development of our student’s pencil grasps.

  • threading beads
  • pegboard activities
  • peeling stickers
  • utilizing tongs
  • stacking blocks

Want more ideas?  Get a free printable handout!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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About the Author: 

Brittany Turner is a COTA/L (Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant) and a new member of the Miss Jaime, O.T. team. She has been in the OT field since 2014. She currently works full time in the public school system in Henry County Virginia with students ranging from 2 years of age-5th grade. She is also working PRN in a skilled nursing facility and inpatient rehabilitation. She’s busy in the OT field but she loves seeing the variety of patients and learning new things constantly.

Brittany graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Rehabilitation Studies from Winston Salem State University. She enjoys exercising, spending time with her family, and being involved with church activities.

Vision 101 Scholarship Application – August 2020

We’re offering scholarships for our course!

If you’ve been following me, you know that I LOVE to help grownups HELP THEIR KIDS. Whether it’s our students, our own children, or our grandchildren,  our kiddos need us.

So many children are walking around with undiagnosed vision issues, and we understand that this pandemic has caused financial hardship for so many wonderful hardworking therapists out there.

As healthcare and educational professionals, My co-host Robert and I want to give back to our community of followers who may be facing financial hardship.

So we’re offering TEN people a FULL SCHOLARSHIP to Vision 101 for School-based Occupational Therapy Practitioners.

This is a needs-based scholarship for School Occupational Therapists and OT Assistants.

We’ll notify the winners via email and post them on this page.

Scholarship Rules:

  1. Ten people will be chosen by August 18th.
  2. We will notify the winners by email and update this page with the winners.
  3. Winners can take the course and obtain AOTA credit FREE.
  4. Winners will be chosen based on their scholarship answers.
  5. Winners who paid for the course will be refunded.

AUGUST 2020 WINNERS ANNOUNCED!

Kathy Castrataro

Jenna DiLissio

Dimitris Voutsinos

Joyce Kalsch

Hetal Lakhani

Erin Stiles

Michelle Davis

Brittany Lynn Cegielski

Kayla Banks

Tamar Solomom

 

Learn more about the course here. 

Learn More about Vision:

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The Eye Exam Kids REALLY Need

The EYE EXAM KIDS REALLY NEED

Did you know that the eye exam that the school gives just looks to see if the child may need glasses?  There are actually WAY more problems that a child can have that would interfere with their progress in school.

There are different kinds of eye care professionals and different models of treatment. Some doctors may only check the health of the eye and if the child needs glasses. Others also check eye movement and if the eyes work together.

Unfortunately, many children are walking around with undiagnosed vision deficits. The parents get them glasses so they think they’ve crossed vision problems off the list.

Nope!

The most common vision problem (besides needing glasses) that school Occupational Therapy practitioners encounter is binocular vision deficits.

But there are a huge number of vision problems that may be impacting a child’s schoolwork. It’s really important that children have a complete eye exam. Not just finding out if they need glasses.

Visual Efficiency NEEDS TO BE ASSESSED

Binocular Vision Disorders  – when a child’s two eyes aren’t working together as a team.  This may include strabismus, convergence and divergence.  Binocular vision issues are more common in children with with learning disabilities, developmental delays.

Ocular Motor (Eye Movement) Disorders – Eye movements include pursuits, saccades, and fixation.

  • Pursuits – The reflex to follow a moving visual stimulus
  • Saccades – A single eye movement from one thing to another, such as words in a sentence.
  • Fixation – The ability to keep the eyes focused on a stationary object.

Accommodative Disorders are also called Focusing Disorders. Children who struggle with looking from near to far and back again are among 5 to 6 percent of the general pediatric population (Scheiman, 2104).

Think of how many children have trouble copying from the board.  That could be due to Accommodation.

Many children struggle with reading. Despite tutoring, they don’t make progress.  That could be a problem with the near vision system.

A child who tends to avoid sports and doesn’t want to play catch may struggle with convergence, and can’t see the ball as it’s coming toward them or they may see double.  

THE TRADITIONAL EYE EXAM DOESN’T ASSESS THESE AREAS.

WHAT IS A COMPLETE EYE EXAM?

A COMPLETE eye exam follows  the Three Component Model of Vision:

  • Checks the health of the eye and if the child needs glasses
  • Visual Information processing skills (aka visual perception)
  • Checks the child’s visual efficiency
            • Accommodation
            • Binocular Vision
            • Eye Movements

An annual eye exam done by an Optometrist may not include all three of these components.  It depends on the doctor’s training.  It can be difficult to find an optometrist who will do an exam that looks for more than just glasses.  But for some children, it makes all the difference in the world.

It’s time to UNCOVER those hidden vision problems!


ARE YOU A SCHOOL OCCUPATIONAL THERAPIST? 

School Occupational Therapy practitioners can screen and remediate many different vision deficits.  It’s important to receive training so you feel competent.

Sign up for Vision 101 for School Occupational Therapy Practitioners, an AOTA approved on-line training for school occupational therapy assistants and therapists.

Click the image!

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Uncovering Hidden Vision Deficits in the Classroom

There’s more to vision than just needing glasses

“But he already has glasses!”  Even though we were separated by the phone, I could tell the mom thought I was crazy.   Her son wears glasses every day, and here I just recommended that she take him for a vision exam.

“But there’s more to vision than just needing glasses” I explained.  “He needs a COMPLETE vision exam, so we can see what’s going on”.

Now the mom’s voice was exasperated.  “What are you saying? The doctor did an incomplete exam?” 

There are different kinds of eye care professionals and different models of treatment. Some doctors may only check the health of the eye and if the child needs glasses. Others also check eye movement and if the eyes work together.

Max was in the third grade.  He was diagnosed with ADHD but his meds just weren’t working.

“He ‘s in reading extra help and math extra help – but they’re not helping!?” 

Mom’s mood changed from angry to confused to sad.

“He’s starting to hate school. I don’t know what to do!” 

Unfortunately, this is pretty common for children with undiagnosed vision deficits. The parents get them glasses so they think they’ve crossed vision problems off the list.

But it’s just not true.

The most common vision problem (besides needing glasses) that school Occupational Therapy practitioners encounter is binocular vision deficits.

But there are a huge number of vision problems that may be impacting a child’s schoolwork. It’s really important that children have a complete eye exam. Not just finding out if they need glasses.

Understanding Visual Efficiency with Children

Binocular Vision Disorders  – when a child’s two eyes aren’t working together as a team.  This may include strabismus, convergence and divergence.  Binocular vision issues are more common in children with with learning disabilities, developmental delays.

Ocular Motor (Eye Movement) Disorders – Eye movements include pursuits, saccades, and fixation.

  • Pursuits – The reflex to follow a moving visual stimulus
  • Saccades – A single eye movement from one thing to another, such as words in a sentence.
  • Fixation – The ability to keep the eyes focused on a stationary object.

Accommodative Disorders are also called Focusing Disorders. Children who struggle with looking from near to far and back again are among 5 to 6 percent of the general pediatric population (Scheiman, 2104).

SOmetimes it’s Not ADHD, It’s Vision.

Very often, children with vision difficulties display behaviors such as

  • avoiding work
  • taking much longer to complete reading and writing assignments
  • complaining of headaches
  • difficulty focusing and paying attention

These are also common symptoms of Attention Deficit Disorder.  So it’s sometimes hard to tell what exactly is going on with that student.

WHAT IS A COMPLETE EYE EXAM?

There are two models of vision:

The One Component Model of Vision:

  • Checks the health of the eye and if the child needs glasses

The second, called the Three Component Model of Vision:

  • Checks the health of the eye and if the child needs glasses
  • Visual Information processing skills (aka visual perception)
  • Checks the child’s visual efficiency
            • Accommodation
            • Binocular Vision
            • Eye Movements

An annual eye exam done by an Optometrist may not include all three of these components.  It depends on the doctor’s training.  It can be difficult to find an optometrist who will do an exam that looks for more than just glasses.  But for some children, it makes all the difference in the world.

After all, it’s awfully hard to learn if you can’t see what you’re looking at. 

Max’s mom listened to me explain the different types of eye problems that a complete eye exam would rule out.  “I had no idea that my Dr. may not have looked at that!”

She laughed ruefully. “Half of me is mad…. and the other half is hopeful”

I knew what she meant. Of course, she didn’t WANT Max to have a vision deficit besides needing glasses.  But on the other hand – what if there’s been a hidden problem all along?

It’s time to UNCOVER those hidden vision problems!


ARE YOU A SCHOOL OCCUPATIONAL THERAPIST? 

School Occupational Therapy practitioners can screen and remediate many different vision deficits.  It’s important to recieve training so you feel competent.

Sign up for Vision 101 for School Occupational Therapy Practitioners, an AOTA approved on-line training for school occupational therapy assistants and therapists.

vision, children, glasses, kids glasses, kids vision, eye exams, ADHD, vision issues, vision problems, convergence

5 Ways To Help Parents Manage Screen Time During Quarantine

Being stuck in quarantine has resulted in a huge spike in video games, movies, and video watching for all of us.  

Trying to limit screen time is especially hard now when parents are facing so much stress.  But the negative effects of too much screen time hasn’t changed.

  • insomnia
  • obesity
  • aggression
  • mood swings
  • decreased socialization
  • vision problems

Therapists and educators can provide the education and support needed to make healthy choices. Merely asking parents to set limits on screen time may not be enough.  Let’s get those kiddos off the screens!

What’s Too Much? 

Here are the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)’s specific recommendations (pulled straight from www.aap.org). “Screen use” refers to any content viewed on TV, video games, devices (tablets and smartphones), and computers. 

  • For children younger than 18 months, avoid use of screen media other than video-chatting. 
  • Parents of children 18 to 24 months of age who want to introduce digital media should choose high-quality programming, and watch it with their children to help them understand what they’re seeing.
  • For children ages 2 to 5 years, limit screen use to 1 hour per day of high-quality programs. Parents should co-view media with children to help them understand what they are seeing and apply it to the world around them.
  • For children ages 6 and older, place consistent limits on the time spent using media, and the types of media, and make sure media does not take the place of adequate sleep, physical activity and other behaviors essential to health

 KEY TAKEAWAY: No children under the age of 6 should be viewing a lot of digital content alone. This is hard because so many parents use digital devices when they need to keep their children busy so they can work, cook dinner, etc.

5 ways to help parents reduce the harm of screen time

1. Make Recommendations for High-Quality Apps/Programs 

  • Not all apps labeled “educational” are created equal.
  • The AAP specifically mentions Sesame Workshop and PBS kids as examples of “high quality” apps.
  • Commonsensemedia.org is a great resource for searching apps, TV shows, and games by age range. They review Youtube channels to help parents decide whether the content is age-appropriate.
  • Khan Kids is a great one! It’s free and provides a HUGE number of different activities. It’s very language-rich and teaches lots of different skills.

2. When using apps, make movement a priority

Young children need to move as much as possible.  There are many apps that encourage fine and gross motor skill development. If they have to be on a screen, let’s get them moving.

  • Dexteria Jr. ($3.99 in the app store) is fun for practicing fine motor and pre-writing skills. This is one of the very few apps that has a pincer grasp activity.
  • There are great letter practice apps available but make sure that children have developed basic prewriting skills. Check out this post for the best handwriting apps. Have children use a stylus to promote fine motor skills for writing. 
  • Some apps help encourage gross motor activity and exploration of the environment too. Seedling Scavenger Bingo is free and allows you to do pre-made scavenger hunts or create your own!  Youtube also has great kids yoga apps and dance videos. 

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3. Recommend Tools to Set Screen Time Limits and Manage App use

  • Apple products come with built-in features for managing screen time.  Guided Access  (found in the accessibility settings) allows parents to set time limits, block off controls or parts of a screen (ex. Volume button), and set the device so that the child can’t leave the app they are in. On Android devices, this is called “Screen Pinning”. See how to do it here
  •  Turn down the screen brightness to reduce over-stimulation which can lead to meltdowns.
  • Decrease the blue light to help your child sleep better. 

4. Find Out WHEN Devices Are Being Used 

  • Screen time tends to increase when parents are busy. They need an entertained child so they can cook dinner, clean, or just use the bathroom in peace. Parents often use a device to keep children calm during unpreferred activities (ex. children with feeding difficulties that watch a preferred video during mealtimes).
  • Devices are also frequently used during transitions, car rides, the grocery store, waiting for appointments, etc.
  • Once you know when screens are coming out, you can problem solve and prioritize. Try to find alternatives to keep them busy. Keep small pocketbook toys on hand instead.

5. Help Parents Problem Solve

All children are different.  To help families problem-solve alternatives to screens use, consider this:

  • What are their favorite activities on the device? If a child is looking for visual stimulation maybe they can get that from a sensory bottle, sensory bag or i-spy. Children that always want to watch certain characters might be equally entertained by books or toys from the show. Kids that like racing games might be equally entertained by a remote control car, hot wheels, etc.
  • Are screens used to help the child calm down? If so, try to find some other easy “unwinding” activities their child likes (ex. sensory bins, listening to music)
  • Help establish routines that incorporate movement. Play outside, do age-appropriate chores, help prepare a snack, help clean up, etc.
  • Help parents identify calming activities to do before getting ready for bed (ex. Crashing on piles of pillows, making a “burrito” with a blanket, rocking in a rocking chair, etc.) so that children are not going into the nighttime routine overstimulated
  • Use tools like visual schedules and timers to help children understand when different activities take place, how long they last, and what’s coming up next. This can help reduce arguments.

Start The Conversation

Despite all of its wonderful capabilities, technology has the ability to cause some problems for small, growing minds.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Talk about the potential harm of too much screen time. Make sure to report the benefits of play, movement, social interaction, and routine to the developing brain.

Ask questions and let parents know that even small changes are good. Model limited use of screens in your classrooms and therapy practice. 

 

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6 Ways to Use Wootape at home & in the classroom

 

What is WooTape?

WooTape is the therapeutic handwriting tape that allows parents, teachers, and therapists to accommodate any worksheet or activity in the moment!  Simply peel, tear, and apply the tape to any paper or surface. It comes in three different sizes, so you can accommodate for each child as necessary.

This is so great for students who struggle with spatial awareness and letter size.

handwriting, letter size, spatial awareness, name writing

6 Ways to Use WooTape in the classroom or home

1) Support an early writer’s ability to properly size and place their name consistently

The name line may (or may not exist) on every worksheet a child receives. Regardless, the need to write their name on it will always be required.  Children need to write their name on everything.  After a while, they can scribble it down with their eyes closed. But without enough proper instruction and repetition, the monotony of it can become quick, meaningless, and often the most illegible writing on their paper.

When parents or teachers take the time to add the proper visual boundaries for children’s names on every paper (especially for early writers PK-1st grade), students get in the habit of proportioning the letters correctly. Instead, children sometimes aren’t provided any visual boundaries. This leaves them to guess how tall or wide to make them and helpless when required to spatially organize them.

To better support children, simply add WooTape to the name line to provide a topline and midline before copying worksheets.

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2) Use WOOTAPE TO Adapt charts to improve sizing and spatial organization

There are countless academic tasks with worksheets that leaving large open boxes/spaces to write in. Compare and contrast activities and graphic organizers are the worst culprits. Many times, the teacher requests that students provide a minimum of 3 examples.  When children don’t have visual cues telling them how big to make their letters, they often struggle to make them fit.

Place WooTape on the chart and the child has clear expectations of where their ideas can be written.

3) Label pictures, crafts, or science activities neatly

WooTape is excellent for placing directly on children’s art projects.  They can identify people in their pictures, give a title to their art piece, or label the parts of an insect or flower. These are tasks they are usually expected to do without proper visual supports.  This can end up ruining the finished product because they end up writing all over the page.

Instead, provide them a small piece of WooTape where it is needed, so the child can keep the overall creation clean, organized, and legible.

4) Use WOOTAPE to support grasp development and wrist alignment by using on a vertical surface

WooTape is fantastic for placing on any flat surface. Because there is a slight tackiness on the back, it is easily removable from most surfaces without damage making it the perfect handwriting intervention to place on walls, mirrors, windows, and doors or even under tables!

Working on a vertical surface is great for working on upper extremity strength, wrist stability, and pencil grasp.

Most walls have some sort of texture, so using WooTape on these surfaces provides lots of opportunities for tactile feedback.

(Disclaimer: when allowing your child to write on walls with WooTape, use a tool such as a pencil where it is easier to erased or wiped off)

5) Use it as a visual guide to improving cutting accuracy

Place any size WooTape on paper (preferably a thick cardstock or index card) and encourage the child to cut on the dashed line. If the child stays within the bolded sidelines, it is easy to track progress toward their cutting goal.

6) Wootape encourages fine motor skills and independence

Using tape has a lot of therapeutic benefits—fine motor skills to peel up the edge, bilateral coordination, and grading of force to unroll some but not too much tape.  It also takes and strength and coordination to tear a piece off.

Many students are able to master these skills independently by the 2nd grade. This allows them to accommodate their own work without assistance from an adult. Now the teacher can support other students in the class, and the child’s success and confidence are boosted by adding some quick and straightforward visual boundaries to consistently produce legible work.

For the rest of the month of April, you can get a 20% discount on Wootape with the promo code  OTMONTH.

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