Thursday, October 20, 2011

Happy Fall!

Fall is such a wonderful time for children to see, smell, and touch the wonders of nature!  Miss Paula is one of my preschool teacher friends who took her class on a nature walk to find some special "treasures".  Each of the children carries a bag and collects leaves, twigs, and acorns.  When they return to class, the children have a large piece of paper where they lay all of their treasures.  An adult uses clear contact paper to cover the items so that they kiddos can proudly display their Autumn collage. 
Children learn from ALL sensory experiences!  This simple activity awakens the senses and teaches kiddos about the beauty of Autumn.  Looking at a pile of leaves from a distance is different than picking them up and seeing how leaves come in all shapes, sizes and colors.  So simple and yet so FUN!   Happy Fall!

Jen Dermody, OTR/L 

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Lovin' Letters

You've heard me say that it's just so important for kids to practice letters in lots of ways BESIDES using a pencil.  OT's call this a multi-sensory approach and it helps for kids to use ALL of their senses when learning.  The kindergarten students at one of my schools are learning the alphabet and their teachers did a great job using a multi-sensory approach!  Students were given large paper cut outs of all of the capital letters.  They painted the letters and then glued on items that start with that letter.  For example, the letter B has lots of BUTTONS:

Letter C is decorated with COTTON and CANDLES:

And while letter Q can be a challenge, this student used Q-TIPS!

The students used all sorts of creative items to glue on their letter paintings.  The various items will help the children learn and remember the letters which in turn will improve literacy and writing skills!   If you want to practice at home and don't want a whole hallway of big letters, you can modify the activity and use smaller letters to find just 1-2 items for each letter. Maybe put a funny hat on the child.....we'll call it the "Thinking Cap"......and search the house for items that match the letter.  Lots of fun!

Jen Dermody, OTR/L

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Another FREE Webinar!

FYI, Handwriting Without Tears is offering another FREE webinar on October 25th!  This one will help OT's and teachers learn how to build a session as a handwriting tutor.  You can register at Handwriting Tutoring: How to Build a Session on the HWT website.  I just love FREE!

Jen Dermody, OTR/L

Monday, October 10, 2011

Pinch, Pinch a Rainbow

I was looking at paint samples over the weekend and all of those pretty colors got my wheels turning!  I stopped by the dollar store and picked up a $1 pizza pan and some clothespins.  A hot glue gun and 15 minutes later, I had a colorful rainbow wheel to use with my preschool students!

Besides the fact that I love COLOR, my primary purpose was actually to get my kiddos practicing their 3-finger grasp with clothespins.  Pinching the clothespin strengthens fingers and helps to develop a 3-finger grasp that's important for writing skills. 

This was such a simple game to make and the children loved it! They worked together to match the colors and clip all of the clothespins.  There could be lots of other variations on this game too---besides colors, you could match letters, numbers or sight words.  Whatever the theme, just keep pinchin'!!

Jen Dermody, OTR/L 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

I've Got My Eye On You!

Leavespacesbetweenyourwords!  That's a little bit hard to read, right?  Lots of kids have illegible handwriting because they leave little to no space between their words when writing.  It's reeeeally hard to read because everything looks like one giant word.  These little guys often end up having to re-write their work because the teacher can't read what's on the paper and it can be frustrating for the kids AND the teachers and parents.  With CONSISTENCY, this can be pretty easily fixed!

The simplest and most convenient solution is to have the child "finger space" by placing his pointer finger after each word like this:

Pointer fingers are always available!  Give reminders to "finger space" before and during writing.  If that is not enough of a visual reminder, you can always use a "space stick".  This could be a popsicle stick or a tongue depressor.  The kids always like these and are motivated to use them. 

To keep it fun, DECORATE the space stick!  You can decorate or have the kids decorate with stickers, markers, or glitter glue.  One of my favorites is "the EYE".....a big googly eye glued to the top and I tell the kids they need to remember to space because "I've got my eye on you!". 

I've yet to meet a kid who doesn't giggle at googly eyes :)  Others are just as happy with a simple smiley face for their "space man".

Learning to space between words might not sound like fun but you'll be surprised when ALL of the kids want a space stick!  Why not make them available for everyone?  They're super cheap and will help the ones who need to use it to REMEMBER to use it.   

Until the habit is formed (this can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks), you'll need to offer some verbal and/or visual reminders every time the child starts a writing assignment until they remember on their own.  The kids often surprise themselves when they see how word spacing makes their writing look so much nicer and easy to read!  For some, that's motivation enough PLUS no more re-writing because the teacher can't read the work.  The spaces might seem too wide but this is OK!   It helps to over exaggerate the spacing when the child is learning so that they can really see the spaces.  With practice, they will naturally adjust to typical word spacing. 
Happy Writing!

Jen Dermody, OTR/L