Thursday, August 9, 2012

FREE Pre-K Webinar

Handwriting Without Tears will be offering another free one hour webinar on August 21st at 8PM Eastern time.  Learn about the "Top 10 Ways to Prepare Your Children For Kindergarten"!

Go to Get Set For School Webinar Series at to register and learn how to help your kiddos get ready for a great school year!

Jen Dermody, OTR/L

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Back to School Favs

Back to school sales are in full force in my neck of the woods!  I snapped some pictures of some of my favorite supplies for kiddos...and grown ups who love kiddos, to help you make that shopping trip fun and useful.

First of all, a decent pair or scissors to fit little hands.  My favorite every year are the Fiskars brand scissors and you can find them for $1-$2 during back to school sales.  They fit kiddos fingers and are intended for both righties and lefties.  Bottom line is that they actually CUT!  Please, please, do not buy your little ones the super cheap scissors that won't cut a darn thing.  Cutting is a pretty tricky skill for kiddos to learn and can be frustrating in the best of circumstances---cheap scissors that don't cut make the job oh so much more difficult.  You'll find both blunt and pointed designs.  I've never had an issue with any child using the pointed top scissors and I think it helps them when cutting small pieces.

Markers---kiddos LOVE markers!!  I really like the Crayola Pip-Squeaks for little hands.  Again, these are markers that fit their hands and are easy to manipulate.  They come in lots of colors and motivate kids to draw and create!  There are also "Pip-Squeaks Skinnies" that are obviously... SKINNY :-)   I've had students use both regular and skinny and both worked out just fine.

HIGHLIGHTERS!  Kiddos LOVE these too!  They are super cheap during back to school sales and are an excellent tool for practicing letter and number formation.  I'm not a fan of giving kids dotted lines to trace letters because it's just a lot to look at and there are dots everywhere that look choppy and disjointed.  You can print letters using a highlighter and the child can see exactly what the letter looks like without all of the dots.  It is easier for tracing and helps the student be more fluent.  On top of it, who isn't motivated by fun, bright colors?! For kids who have difficulty with line orientation (keeping letters on the line when writing), a simple highlighted line provides a visual boundary and you'll be amazed at how much more legible handwriting can be when letters actually sit on a line instead of running all over the page.

Mechanical pencils are great for helping students learn "appropriate pressure" for writing.  Kids who push so hard that it nearly puts holes in the paper can use a mechanical pencil to learn to use less pressure because the tip can break off quite easily.  I've found that it gives kiddos a good reference for how much is too much when pushing the pencil to the paper.  In addition, my students always consider it a treat to use a mechanical pencil because it's like a "grown up" pencil.

Elmers has some fun new glue sticks with GLITTER!  OK, they're a little more expensive than regular glue sticks, but oh my goodness, children LOVE GLITTER!  Other than the glitter, it makes things stick like regular glue but I'm a big believer in making the cutting, glueing, and writing as motivating as possible.  I can promise you my students will be excited to practice cutting and glueing in style!

These little dudes are called Stetro pencil grips.  I've had lots of parents and teachers put this their students' pencils when the child has a funky grasp.  The secret is that these won't do much of anything to help if you don't take the time to correct the grasp.  For example, have you had a student who wraps their thumb tightly around the pencil? It seems that the Stetro grip would fix that right up, however, the student simply wraps his thumb tightly around the Stetro grip around the pencil.  It would be MORE beneficial to re-train the grasp---use small pieces of crayon and pencil to get a tripod grasp; practice on a vertical surface, etc.
the soft grips below are popular too and the only thing these do is make the pencil softer.  There's nothing wrong with that!  Just don't expect that it is useful in correcting a poor grasp.  

So what the heck are these things you might ask?!   They are intended to be stretchy long erasers.  I saw them and thought "fidgets".  For $.79, you've got a socially appropriate, inexpensive classroom fidget for some of your kiddos who need a little something extra to hold on to to help them focus.  I found these at Target but I've seen them at Walmart, Walgreens, and the grocery store.
These are just a few of the things that popped out to me when I was shopping for my own kids last week.  Some of these items might  not be listed on the "required" list but can help make fine motor FUN!  Check out your local sales and get shopping!

Jen Dermody, OTR/L