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C OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY & HANDWRITING Christine Rowland Assistive Technology December 2014.

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Presentation on theme: "C OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY & HANDWRITING Christine Rowland Assistive Technology December 2014."— Presentation transcript:

1 C OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY & HANDWRITING Christine Rowland Assistive Technology December 2014

2 How does and Occupational Therapist assist with Handwriting? The goal of an Occupational Therapist in the school environment is to improve a student's performance of tasks and activities important for school functioning. The target audience for this presentation is a Kindergarten class and I will teach the basics of forming capital letters to assist with success and learning in the classroom environment.

3 Fundamentals of Handwriting & Kindergarten Children Handwriting is a foundational skill which needs to be taught first in school. It helps influence a child's reading, writing, language and thinking. The milestones for handwriting start in Kindergarten. If a child does not have some of these skills it will be difficult to write and learn letters. Visual Motor Skills Visual Perception Fine Motor Skills Trunk Control Shoulder Stability

4 Handwriting Principles Before we look into the prerequisite skills necessary to ensure success in pre- writing. We need to understand how children acquire these motor skills. Children develop control of movements in a proximal to distal direction (head to toe). Children learn to reach and control shoulder movement before achieving elbow, wrist and finger control. Children must develop stability in their hands and trunk before controlled distal movements are possible. Children first move with whole body movement, then they learn to separate the movements of one particular part of the body, such as their hands. (Static tripod grasp to a dynamic tripod grasp).

5 Handwriting Standards & UDL This lesson will teach students the components necessary for writing. 1. They will learn the importance of using a functional pencil grip for writing. (Flexible accommodations when teaching because some children use three or four fingers or a pencil gripper to assist with their grasp while writing). 2. They will learn the importance of using their non dominant hand to assist with stabilizing the paper while writing. (Simple and easy tasks for children to understand using two hands). 3. They will learn the importance of good sitting posture for writing. (Information is easily perceived, to allow for minimal fatigue during a writing task)

6 Handwriting Activities Before I start the kindergarten handwriting lesson I always like to start with a fine motor activity. I like to use fun activities (simple and intuitive) that engage the child and require them to use their thumb and index finger (or a pincer grasp). I also like activities that require the child to use both hands working together bilaterally (using sensory abilities). This is important because writing involves the dominant hand that is doing the writing, but it also requires the “helper hand” to hold the paper steady. I will have the children string beads or capital letters on a string. I will have the children sort colored chips with letters on them in an egg carton. I will have the children play a game of pick up sticks at each of the tables. I will have the children squeeze a tennis ball with an open mouth and have it talk.

7 Standard Activities Kindergarten students standard activities for letter writing: The fist activity in teaching capital letters is using the Wet-Dry-Try method. I will demonstrate making a letter with chalk, then have the child trace the letter with a small wet sponge and then dry with a small sponge. This activity appeals to all types of learners (especially those children who are tactile and visual learners) and a fun way to practice letters. The second activity to reinforce writing capital letters is using wooden pieces and placing on a blue mat with a smiley face in the top left hand corner, this reinforces good writing habits and where to start your letters. I teach straight line letters first, (E, F, H, D, I, L), which are the easy to learn, then curved,(B, P) then diagonal letters. (K, M, W)

8 Fundamental Activities Kindergarten students fundamental activities for letter writing: In this activity I will first teach language skills with picture letter cards. I will make capital letters (F, D,E, F) with the wooden pieces and then show the children pictures with letters. i.e., the first picture starts with the letter F, lets find the letter F. If some children do not now the letters, then I’ll modify the activity and read the letters to the child. The second activity I teach will assist with forming capital letters with using play dough and a tray. This activity helps children build strength in their fingers and hands at the same time learn capital letter recognition. I will show the child how to roll the play dough like a snake in pieces and then have them imitate me by forming a letter on the tray.

9 Computer Activity Kindergarten Students computer activities for letter writing: To assist with letter recognition the student will use the keyboard and recognize the letters that keys produce. I will type their name and then ask if they can find the keys on the keyboard and type their name again. If that is too challenging I will write a “home row” capital letter (G, H, J) on a dry erase board and see if they are able to find this letter. I will also use the IPAD app Glow Draw to assist with forming capital letters. Children love this activity because it is visually appealing and they are given the option to make their own choice (color or size) to assist with forming strokes.

10 Enhanced Level Activity Kindergarten students enhanced level activity for letter writing: There will be some kindergarten students who already know their letters and how to form all capital letters. So their lesson will focus on how to demonstrate skills in printing upper case letters and numbers from memory. These students will focus on correct formation of letters. 1. Start capital letters at the top 2. Start numbers at the top The activity will start out with a song (where do you start you letters). This song will benefit all level learners, (allowing flexibility for all learners). The activity will also use various styles of paper (triple, double, and single lines) to assist all level of learners.

11 Adapted Materials for writing Some students may benefit from raised lined paper, this assists with starting and stopping point of letters. This may assist children with visual perceptual issues such as convergence. Special large lined paper or paper with pictures to assist with starting point of letters. This would assist students with poor visual skills or motor planning. A slant board to assist with visual impairments and reinforce two hands. A pencil grip to encourage a more functional grasp. This would assist children with weak muscles in their hands (the intrinsic muscles). Portable word processor can accommodate students struggling with handwriting, such as a Neo or an Alpha Smart. This would assist children with decreased attention as well as advanced learners. Co-writer provides a word prediction feature which can decrease the number of key stokes needed to complete an assignment. This could assist children with decreased cognitive skills, such as motor planning and memory.

12 Pictures of Adapted Materials

13 Teaching children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Handwriting When teaching a child with ASD handwriting I would incorporate a lot of repetition in my lesson, not only with verbal cues but visual and tactile cues too. I would let the child know before we start the lesson what we are going to learn today and what letter(s) we are going to cover. I would also photocopy pages so the child can practice the lesson more than once. Children who have autism and are high functioning tend to learn well with hands-on materials (information is easily perceived & understood). I would use many multisensory activities to assist with learning, e.g., play-do or picking letters out of rice or beans.

14 Teaching children with Dysgraphia Handwriting Children with dysgraphia have difficulty producing letters due to poor motor planning. They struggle with organizational skills and movements and can be very scattered in their writing habits. I will try to teach children in the following ways: I would teach the shapes (parts and pieces) of the letters using the wooden pieces and the blue smiley face mat. I would use adapted gray block paper to assist with correct formation of letters and decrease reversals. The smiley face board will become a consistent reminder of the starting point and I would provide many practice lessons and then give them materials to practice at home. I would teach the letters in groups of similar strokes starting with straight lines (E,F,T,L,I) to help develop consistent patterns of letter formation.

15 Teaching children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Handwriting I would first try different pencil grips so the child would maintain a functional grasp for the entire lesson or writing activity. I would incorporate visual cues such as starting points or dots to assist with where to form letters, to assist with visual attention. I would use a slant board with an alphabet chart taped to the top. For the letters that I was teaching for the day I would use large dry erase letters with directional arrows to assist with forming the letters.

16 Citations Sousa, David. How the special needs brain works. 2nd. Corwin Press, Print. Universal Design of Instruction. (2002, January 1). Retrieved from Olsen, J. (2014, January 1). Educators. Retrieved from Ruddiman, S. (2012, February 11). Neoboards are neat. Retrieved from living/2012/02/neo_boards_are_neo_neat_for_oa.html living/2012/02/neo_boards_are_neo_neat_for_oa.html Slant boards for Writing. (2012, January 1). Retrieved from Co-writer Word Prediction Software. (2014, January 1). Retrieved from


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