You know you’re a school based occupational therapist when you look in your purse, albeit a large one, to find the following:
An assortment of pencil grips
Bag full of O rings and ¾” metal nuts to create a weighted pencil on a moment’s notice
Glue gun… to create or fix that one thing you always forget about until the next time you’re at that school
A few Wilbarger brushes, in a bag of course
Weights for a weighted vest
DVD of Sensory Diet Activities you need to share with staff
Tennis Ball loaded with pennies a.k.a “Mr. Mouth” (Tennis ball adorned with googly eyes, pom-pom nose and slit cut to form a mouth. Pennies, beads and/or beans i.e., his lunch, placed in his mouth one at a time to facilitate palm to finger translation skills.)
Tape. Variety depends on what was handy as you were walking out the door
Vibrator. I know, I know. It never gets easy to say, even as a legit therapeutic tool
The best part of all of this is enjoying the looks I get when I have to get some of these things out of my purse at the grocery so I can get to my wallet. Then your children have to get in there to find something, because naturally you have plenty of room for their stuff too. My daughter’s response, "Mom! Why do you have all this stuff?!" I can only say, "Honey, it’s my fondest hope that your purse will look like that someday too… as an occupational therapist!"
Have you ever seen a child try to cut with scissors like this?
Instead of using what is often referred to as the “thumbs up” position, children rotate their forearms & thumbs downward making cutting more difficult. As adults we try to help them get into the correct position by physically turning their hands so they are “thumbs up”…but many times children need that physical help over and over to before they get the hang of it. Solution?
Meet Mr. Munch!
Children know Mr. Munch needs to be on top of the paper to see where he’s going, which encourages the “thumbs up” position. If he’s not on top, the child self corrects (which is best!) or needs a simple verbal cue such as “where’s Mr. Munch?”, prompting him/her to reposition the scissors correctly. The added bonus …Mr. Munch also helps children stay on the path when cutting.
Watch Mr. Munch in Action:
How to do it
Scissors- Amount depends on how many pairs of Mr. Munch scissors you want to create. One glue gun One pom pom ball 2 Googly eyes
Step 1: Glue googly eyes to pom-pom ball.
Step 2: Glue pom-pom to the top scissor blade.
Step3: Let dry (which happens quickly using hot glue) and Happy Cutting!!!
Cutting is not only an important skill to develop but also builds strength & coordination needed for good pencil control. Check out these great resources for more information on cutting skills:
Her mom noticed she was having a hard time writing her numbers. They were all readable, just backwards. Sound familiar?
Alice was getting frustrated as Alice’s mom tried different ways to help her learn to write them correctly. Nothing seemed to work… until she tried StartDOT Handwriting. She heard about the app from Alice’s Kindergarten teacher and other moms, so she decided to give it a try.
What a difference! Alice’s numbers started to turn around, and the best part: it didn’t seem like work at all. Alice still loves using the StartDOT Handwriting app and now writes her numbers with confidence!
Some notes on number and letter reversal:
Reversing letters is entirely normal for kindergartners and is typically nothing to worry about. Children at this age have not fully developed what is called "visual form constancy." That is, they don't understand that if you change a letter's direction, it can become a different letter or not a letter at all.
After all, a chair is still a chair if you flip it over and a book is still a book if you turn it upside down. And, in your child's eyes, a d should still be a d, whether it faces forward, backward, or is upside down.
Of course, if you're concerned that your child is behind, it never hurts to talk to their teacher or a class OT. Remember that your child may continue to reverse letters for a while but a good rule of thumb is that they should have this sorted out by the time they enter the third grade.
This aspect of handwriting skill can be mastered with practice. And our goal at StartDOT is to make number and letter practice fun!
Color on the wall to improve pencil control. What?!
Ok, we don’t mean that literally. This solution is all about location, location, location.
Instead of coloring, painting, drawing etc. while seated at a table, tape the papers to a wall, fridge, or sliding glass door to create a vertical work surface. This way the child’s arms aren’t resting on the table but “working” to strengthen important muscles in the arm and wrist needed for pencil control.