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.

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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Ten Best Apps for Handwriting with Kids

As I walked into school the other day, a friend of mine grabbed me in a panic and said “Should my four-year-old really be practicing a page of letters every night?! This is the only time I get to spend with her and I’m forcing her to write a whole page of D’s! This stinks!”

No, as an OT, I don’t believe that a four-year-old should be practicing a page of letters for twenty minutes a night.  It’s too much for those little hands.

But – an educator who spends two days a week in kindergarten, I have to say, this is where the curriculum is going. Developmentally, preschoolers are still preschoolers, but kindergarten curriculum expectations have increased tremendously.  Little kids are expected to be able to write upon entering kindergarten.  Preschools are bowing to the pressure and teaching what used to be the kindergarten curriculum.

I felt empathetic towards my friend who just wants to play with her little girl at night, rather than drilling her to finish a worksheet.  But here’s what I told her.

Think about it differently.  You have the chance to make sure she learns all her letters correctly before she starts Kindergarten.  There will be other children in her class who don’t know their letters, and the teacher won’t be able to really sit with them one on one to make sure they get it.  Many teachers teach one letter a day in two forms (capital and uppercase), so the kids don’t really develop the motor memory.  It’s difficult for kids to learn it and to write comfortably at this rushed pace.   If a child learns their letters correctly it is so much easier for them to write neatly.  It becomes automatic.”

 

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Why not to push handwriting for kids

handwriting, preschool, school, writing, visual motor, graphomotor, OT, Miss Jaime OT

Pushing kids into writing before they are developmentally ready happens to be one of my pet peeves. (I actually have quite a few of them, you can read all about them here. )

Experience has shown me is that children should NOT be pushed into handwriting before they’re ready. So many kids are entering Kindergarten without the basic pre-writing skills they need. Yet the Kindergarten curriculum expects them to be writing right away!

Before handwriting, children need to master pre-writing skills

Pre-writing skills are the lines, shapes, and strokes kids need to master and know before learning how to print the alphabet. They develop from 1 year to 5 years old.

Pre-writing skills ARE important.

Kids need to learn and master pre-writing lines, strokes, and shapes and strengthen their fine
motor skills before learning how to form the letters of their name or the alphabet.

Prewriting Milestones

1-2 years old:

A baby is typically scribbling and learning to make marks on a paper. They are probably holding a crayon or marker with their whole hand. This is called a palmar supinate grasp.

As they develop more control, the next step is to imitate. Maybe you make a line or shape and
then your child imitates that same line or shape.

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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. 

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Handwriting 101: The Handwriting Basics You Need to Know!

Handwriting, graphomotor skills, spacing tricks,

HANDWRITING 101: UNDERSTANDING THE BASICS

Handwriting is a complicated motor skill that requires dexterity, strength, motor planning skills, and visual memory. In the past, children learned the alphabet and how to write their letters in kindergarten. These days, children are learning how to write earlier and earlier.

Most preschools boast that they include capital and lowercase letters in their daily instruction, even though the NY state curriculum expects capitals and a few lowercase.

Why? Parents want their children to be prepared for kindergarten. Nowadays, most children are already writing on the first day of school. However, their muscles aren’t ready to start so young.

What should we do?

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Is your child’s learning disability actually a vision issue?

 An undiagnosed vision issue could easily be mistaken for a learning disability. Does your child have an undiagnosed vision problem?

I’m thrilled to have pediatric OT and vision rehab specialist  Robert Constantine guest post for me today.  Did you know that school vision screenings only detect 20-30% of vision problems?

Is it an undiagnosed Vision issue?

Vision is our furthest reaching sense. It tells us 75% of what we know about the world around us.

It affects movement, balance, and reading and writing ability.

But vision is a frequently overlooked contributor to academic problems. Undiagnosed eye movement problems can mimic conditions like ADHD and dyslexia and are not identified on school screenings, making a complete vision exam a must for every child.

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