Effortless art crayons

Effortless Art Crayons

“Effortless Art Crayons”  is a sponsored post

“Every time he wants to change colors, I have to waste two minutes adapting the crayon.  It’s such a waste of time!”

Occupational therapists and special education teachers are magicians when it comes to adapting stuff for our kids with weak motor skills, developmental delays, or atypical grasp patterns.  But sometimes it’s just a pain in the neck!

The main goal is to help children be independent.  So if an adult has to step in every few minutes to put the grip on a new crayon or adjust a child’s fingers so they are in a functional position, it goes against what we are working toward (Independence!)

It’s easy to keep a grip on a pencil, but what about crayons?  The child wants to change colors every few minutes- that’s half the fun!

I’ve found the solution. 

I’m so excited to share a new product that is an amazing option for a variety of situations:

  • Immature grasping patterns
  • Underdeveloped web space
  • Weak hand strength
  • Difficulty maintaining correct grasp

Effortless ART crayons are perfect for:

  • early learners who are still developing fine motor and pre-writing skills
  • adults or children with disabilities
  • children with sensory processing or motor issues that cause them to press too hard, frequently breaking crayons
  • students  who hold the crayon too close to the tip, so they can’t see what they are doing
  • adults with disabilities, motor difficulties, or arthritis

Effortless Art Crayons are fully adapted crayons that need NO intervention to hold with a proper grasp. You can use them a few ways, which makes this product even more special!

grasping, crayons, effortless crayons, adapted crayons

Effortless ART Crayons for Children Who “Fist” the Crayon

Many children compensate for weak hand strength by clutching the crayon with all of their fingers.  Because they don’t have mature grasping patterns or a developed web space (the space between the thumb and index finger), they wrap their thumb over the other fingers and rely on their wrist or shoulder to move the crayon.

 Adapted Crayons for Children Who Press Too Hard

Some children have sensory processing issues, which can make it difficult for them to grade the amount of pressure they use when coloring.   In other words, they press too hard!

Other children haven’t developed shoulder stability, which is the ability to keep their shoulder still when they move their wrist and hand.  This leads them to use their whole arm to color.  Using those big muscles can result in too much pressure (aka broken crayons), so that can be a problem, too.

Sometimes pressing too hard can result in fingers slipping to the tip of the crayon.  This limits a child from seeing what they are doing because their fingers are in the way!

The Built-in Adaptation – A Simple Solution to So Many Problems!

Effortless Art Crayons have a natural “ridge” that can help with all of the problems mentioned above.  The ridge acts as a “stopper” for children ‘s fingers that tend to slip to the tip of the crayon.

Or, you can have your child place their fingers below the ridge toward the tip of the crayon.  In this case, the “ridge” helps to open up the web space of the hand, which promotes more thumb movement.

effortless art crayons

Interested in getting your own pack of Effortless Art Crayons? Here’s another good reason to check them out:

Effortless Art Crayons Donates To The Community!   For every pack that is purchased, the company donates a pack of crayons to a non-profit art or early learning school.

What’s Up Next:

Two Sparrows have a few more products on the horizon – including a carnauba wax crayon line that is 100% eco-friendly and vegan.   Isn’t that Amazing?

The Effortless Art product line will grow to include pens by the third quarter of 2018.

EFFORTLESS ART CRAYONS ARE ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY 

Two Sparrows collect used and discarded crayons from all over the United States to recycle and recreate their adapted crayons.  All of the packaging is eco-friendly. Do you have crayons you’d like to donate? Contact Two Sparrows via Social Media:

Website:  www.effortlessartcrayons.com

Facebook: Effortless Art Crayons

Instagram: two sparrows learning

Ten pack sells for $9.99

Five packs sell for $5.00

Three packs starter kit sells for $3.25

Class set sells for $99

PLUS- Get 10% off a ten pack of Effortless Art Crayons with the Promo Code “MissJaimeOT” until April 1st! 

DOES GRIP REALLY MATTER?

Many parents and teachers disregard a grip that isn’t perfect.   Is it really a big deal?

It’s normal for children to change grasp patterns as they grow from a baby to a toddler to a child, but IT IS important that they develop an efficient grasp.  Teachers and parents should focus on developing the full potential of children’s hands for fine motor skills early on.  It’s much harder to change an inefficient grasp once it’s “locked in”.

References:

Benbow, M. (1987). Sensory and motor measurements of dynamic tripod skill.  Unpublished masters thesis.  Boston, MA: Boston University.

Zivani, J. (1987). Pencil grasp and manipulation. In J. Alston & J. Taylor (Eds.). Handwriting: theory, research, and practice (pp. 24-39).  London: Croom Helm.

ot pet peeves,

 

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10 pocketbook-sized toys to occupy your kid (instead of your phone!)

 handwriting, fine motor skills

I am totally on the “LIMIT TECHNOLOGY” for little kids bandwagon and am all about “Pocketbook-Sized Toys”! I have been so inspired by some articles I’ve read lately; especially a great article by Your Therapy Source (link at the bottom).  So I decided to make a list of 10 pocketbook-sized toys to occupy your kid (instead of your phone!)

As a public school OT, I work with Kindergarten students two days a week.  The continued decline in the basic motor skills of four and five-year-old children is VERY evident.  There are probably many reasons why, but I feel that lack of functional play time is a BIG contributor.    Nowadays, many kids have their own tablets, TV’s in their rooms, and an IPOD shuffle. They spend less and less time playing outside, which limits their gross motor skills, endurance, and coordination.   When they are inside, they spend less time playing with toys and using their hands and more time with technology.

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#Functionalskillsforkids

Combining Handwriting and Play

This post “Combining Handwriting and Play”  is part of a year-long blog hop called Functional Skills for Kids.  Each month, I will be working with other pediatric OTs and PTs to post on different developmental topics that impact functional skills for kids. I’m so honored to be working with some amazing pediatric bloggers to bring you a well-rounded blog hop that will ultimately result in a BOOK!

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communication, therapists, schools

How to Improve Communication From Your Kid’s School Therapist

Communication: the key to success!

Since it’s the beginning of the school year, I’ve decided to share my best advice for improving communication with your child’s therapist. Parents sometimes feel helpless because they don’t know what their child is doing in OT, PT, or Speech.   You can’t be with your child all day long, so you don’t know if they had therapy that day, if it was cancelled, if he/she did a great job, etc.  If your child is non-verbal it’s even more of a mystery.

 

Communicate from the beginning!

My best advice for starting the year off right is to communicate with the therapist.  I like for parents to send in a notebook so I can write a short blurb about what we worked on.  I like to give handouts for suggestions at home and let them know how their child is progressing.

 

However, some therapists don’t like notebooks.  For example, my sister-in-law is a speech therapist. She sees children in groups of five. That means that at the “end” of her session, she would need to write in 5 different books.  With 7 therapy periods a day, that would be 35 notebooks a day. Now, what is more important? Writing in the books or working with the kids? You can guess the answer.

 

For me, I see children individually or in a group of two. So it only takes a few minutes to jot down what we worked on and how the child did.  I have some parents who write me back or put a checkmark every time I write.  Then I have a few others who don’t do anything.  Now I don’t know if they read my note  or even saw it.  Did the book even go home? After a few of these, I have to be honest: I am less motivated to write in that book. Because 1) why bother if you are not reading it and 2) it takes time away from your child.

Communication Notebooks don’t always work

Sometimes parents send in a book and then they get annoyed when the therapist doesn’t write in it. Here is my advice for that:

1)  Write to them first.  Tell them you want to communicate and would love feedback about how your child is doing.  You would love suggestions for home, etc.

2) If it’s been a few weeks and you haven’t heard from your therapist, write a note to the teacher.  Maybe the book is lost or maybe your child sticks it in his desk instead of his backpack.

Sometimes the schedule (the therapist’s or the child’s) interferes with writing in the book, too.  In Long Island, most districts do not have their own OT’s and PT’s.  So the therapists are from contract agencies, working in multiple buildings and even multiple districts in one day.  This means that sometimes they eat lunch in their car in between schools.  Life is chaotic.

Anyway, my point is that a day in a therapist’s life is often rushed and scheduled down to the very minute.  So is your child’s.  They have to fit your child’s OT or PT session around lunch, literacy block, other therapies, resource room and specials.  This means they may pick up your child straight from music and then bring them right down to lunch. Maybe they go straight off the bus to the OT room and then the class picks them up on the way to art. The child isn’t in their classroom and therefore they couldn’t grab their notebook.

Communication: Don’t believe what you hear!

Then there is also this scenario:

Mom: “What did you do in OT today?”

Johnny: “We colored”.

The OT: “Johnny colored in a color-by number sheet to work on visual perceptual skills and matching while laying on his belly to increase upper extremity strength and stability.  He is working to increase his endurance for writing.”

Mom: “What did you do in OT today?”
Johnny: “We played games!”

The OT: “We’ve been working on visual perceptual skills and fine motor skills. Johnny has trouble tracking from left to right when copying from the board.  We played “Battleship” because it works on all of those skills at once. We also played it laying our bellies to improve Johnny’s shoulder stability.”

See the difference?  Kids work hard to sit it school all day, so OT and PT are a great chance for them to move and “have fun”.   So most therapists try to work on their therapy goals while incorporating movement and fun for the child.  To the outsider it looks like all fun and games.  But there is some hard work going on.

Your therapist isn’t going to tell your child all the things they are really working on. So your child won’t tell you.

Communication is KEY to progress and carryover.  Your child’s therapist wants them to succeed and so do you.  If the notebook doesn’t work, ask if you can email. Some districts don’t want teachers to email, so if that’s the case ask for monthly updates or a phone call once in a while.  Keep in mind that your child’s therapist may have between 20-60 other kids on their caseload.

Do you have any tips for communicating with your therapists? Please share!

Miss Jaime OT

Have a great year! ~Miss Jaime, OT

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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back to school tricks

5 Back to School Tips Every Parent and Teacher Should Know

I can’t believe that Back to School is around the corner.   In honor of back to school this year, I’ve decided to share my 5 best back to school tips!  They may seem simple, but they work!  So here goes!

 

1) For the child who doesn’t hold their pencil correctly…

This is a great tip for kindergarten, first, and second-grade teachers.   Kids still need reminders to hold their pencils correctly.  Why not make it fun?  Rather than spending money on an expensive pencil grip that the kids lose, chew, and pick apart; simply take a sharpie and use it to make a face on each pencil.  For the Kindergarten teacher who spends an hour sharpening every pencil to get ready for the first day of school, this should only take another ten minutes.   For the mom of the child who needs reminders, it takes 30 seconds.  And it works!

  pencil grip trick
Drawing a face on the pencil is a simple visual cue. Kids love it when I ask them what kind of face they want: girl or boy? happy or sad?, etc.
pencil grip tricks,
The thumb goes on one eye, index goes on the other. It’s a quick trick that works wonders!

 

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About those crayons…what parents should know

Why you should chuck your Jumbo crayons and Chalk…

“Just say NO to jumbo crayons and chalk!”

DSC_0377b copy (1)

Toddlers use their whole arm to color, it’s natural! Laying on their belly helps them to start using their fingers, instead of their shoulder.

*This post contains Affiliate Links

Do you remember when your child first started coloring?

Babies and toddlers use their whole arm to scribble. You may remember the very large crayons and pencils from when you first learned how to color or write your name. It may be surprising to learn that handwriting experts and occupational therapists actually recommend using small golf pencils and tiny broken crayons for your child as they begin to write and color more often.   Jumbo crayons and pencils are actually age appropriate for toddlers to use!

 

Notice how the package says 12+ months. These crayons are perfect for babies who are just learning to scribble. Not for preschool or school age children.

 

Crayola 8-Pack Crayons - Jumbo (So Big) Size (Single Box)

Jumbo crayons are for babies! Literally toddlers only.

Bigger isn’t better!

Why no Jumbo crayons or CHALK?

It makes a lot of sense when you think about it. Toddlers use their whole arm to move the pencil or crayon. They hold it in a fist and use all of the muscles in their arm to make the marks on the paper.

As children begin to develop improved fine motor skills, they use their wrist and fingers to move the pencil or crayon. This is the natural development of shoulder stability.  Between the age of three and four, they should be resting their arm on the table and using the small muscles of their hand to do the work.

Imagine how much heavier those Jumbo crayons and pencils are for those little hands! Using golf pencils instead of Jumbo pencils allows a child to manipulate the pencil more easily, which discourages them from using too many fingers, pressing too hard, or scribbling outside the lines. Very often, children who have difficulty holding their pencil correctly have weak muscles in their hands. To compensate for this weakness, they use more fingers or more pressure! Ouch!

pencilbigvslittle

The Jumbo pencil is more than twice the size of the golf pencil. Too big!

These old fashioned “Jumbo” pencils are only appropriate for babies who are learning how to make a mark on a paper.  They are expected to use their whole arm, so it’s okay. Once they start scribbling, it’s time for a regular pencil or a golf pencil.

crayons, jumbo crayons, grasping, fine motor skills

 

So what crayons should kids use?

Good old regular crayons are fine.  BUT – if you see that your child is using too many fingers, you may want to go with broken crayons.  Broken crayons should be an inch or smaller.  Many moms cringe at this (teachers too) because we remember the awesome feeling of getting a brand new pack of crayons.  There was nothing better than that!  If the broken crayon thing bothers you, there are a lot of cute new crayons that are good for encouraging a proper grip.

 

Crayon rocks are perfect for little fingers! They automatically put your fingers in a “pinch” position so kids don’t get in the habit of “fisting” their crayons.

Handwriting Without Tears makes these cute little “flipz” crayons which are perfect for preschool to school age children! Kids have to use in-hand manipulation to “flip” them over and change color.

 

How can you help your child to develop the proper grip?  There are a lot of things you can do.  First, practice coloring.  This sounds too simple, and moms who have children who don’t like to color may say, “he won’t color”.  There are tons of sneaky ways to get a kid to color.  Go online and google “free coloring pages” and get a picture of their favorite cartoon character.  It’s more motivating (and less overwhelming) than opening a whole coloring book.  Tell your child that Grandma asked for a new picture for her refrigerator.  Or Aunt Susie’s birthday is coming and she wants a picture, etc.

Is coloring absolutely necessary?  Well, no. There are many ways to learn how to write besides coloring.  BUT – Coloring is a fine motor skill. It is exercise for those little muscles in the hand.  If your child refuses to color, it could be because it’s hard for them. They may need some hand strengthening activities to work those little hands so it’s not such a chore.  Play-doh, clay, and cookie making are all good for hand strengthening.

One of my favorite students who spent A LOT of time on his belly with me. Mom followed through at home and NOW he is a Kindergarten Success Story!

One of my favorite students who spent A LOT of time on his belly with me. Mom followed through at home and NOW he is a Kindergarten Success Story!

Another great way to help your child develop shoulder stability (the ability to use their hand without using their whole arm) is to have them color while laying on their belly.  This will be hard at first because it takes muscle! Keep at it.

I hope this gives some motivation to chuck those jumbo crayons! Or at the very least – break ’em!  The smaller the better.  Have fun!

Want more great tips to improve your child’s skills? Check out The Handwriting Book, written by a team of ten pediatric OTs and PTs to help parents, therapists, and teachers just like you!

Handwriting and Middle School

Don’t forget to read this:  Two Magical Crayons that will change your child’s grasp

 

~Miss Jaime, O.T.


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Ask An OT: “What pencil grip should I use for my child?”

Question from Dena Rich in  Albany, NYdena(1)

 

“Hi Miss Jaime!  Love, love your articles!!!! My daughter Emilia still struggles with her pencil grip (using whole hand instead of proper 2 fingers). I’m having trouble finding a pencil gripper. Do I have to go to a parent teacher store? Love the tweezer separating sprinkles idea. Do u think this will be too hard for her?  She turns five in March. “

Hi Dena!  Thanks for the compliment!  You don’t need to go to a teacher store; you can buy anything online!

Children who are four are often still developing a comfortable pencil grip.  It can be hard for children to develop separation of the two sides of the hand, but a pencil grip can help.  I usually try not to use a grip until I’m sure that the child is physically having difficulty.

That means that I have taught them many times where their fingers should go and where the pencil should sit in their hands.  When I ask them to hold the pencil correctly, they try to and they know what I mean.  The problem is that due to weak strength and endurance, they can’t maintain a proper grasp.  So then, I use a pencil grip.  My favorite “go-to” grip for preschoolers is called “the pencil grip”.  I like it because it’s “fatter” towards the back which helps kids to open up their web space.  This is the area between the thumb and the index finger.    There are specific spots for each finger, but even if they hold it wrong, it’s still ok.   Here is what it looks like.

Another good one that I like for kids Emilia’s age is the “writing claw”.  This one can be a little tricky to learn how to use, but once a child gets the hang of it, it’s great.  There are spots for the thumb, index and middle fingers.

 

Pencil grips can be uncomfortable for children at first.  That’s ok, it’s uncomfortable because the child is now using the correct muscles, and they aren’t used to doing this work.  Keep encouraging them and use it consistently.  It will pay off!   Also, you can help your child to “tuck in” the ring and pinky finger by having them hold a pom pom or a cotton ball in those fingers.  It helps to keep the pinky side of the hand separate from the thumb part.

Another way to make it easier for your child is to play games and work with toys that require separation of the two sides of their hands.  Classic games like  Bed Bugs, Lite Brite, Operation, etc. are examples of toys that encourage this.

Good Luck, Dena!  Keep us posted!

 

  ~Miss Jaime

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