5 Nifty Handwriting Helpers Revisited
by Katherine J. Collmer, M.Ed., OTR/L
On June 16, 2015, I posted the original version of this blog, titled “Five Nifty Handwriting Helpers.” (Don’t click yet, but you can find it here.) Today, I am reposting it in a different format in an attempt to gather information about your reading preferences and learning styles. The “Handwriting is Fun! Blog” runs for one purpose: to share information. If the information we share, however, does not meet your learning and reading needs, then we haven’t achieved our goal to provide our readers with pertinent and helpful information about handwriting development skills.
So, in the interest of bettering our blog and achieving our highest goals, I am asking you to read the first version (not yet!) and then to read this revised format. After you have done that, I would be honored and thankful if you would share two pieces of information with me in the comment section of THIS BLOG VERSION:
- Which version did you prefer?
- Why did that version appeal to you?
Thank you in advance for participating in this informal research study! I look forward to your feedback! NOW YOU CAN CLICK ON THE FIRST VERSION! (Don’t forget to return here to read the revised version!)
Five Nifty Handwriting Helpers
by Katherine J. Collmer, M.Ed., OTR/L
This month, I am sharing a “Summer Handwriting Fun” series chock-full of articles written by myself and other therapy bloggers who have so graciously offered to share their work on my site. This is the third in our series. I hope you will find it useful and return to read some more next week!
What do we need before we get “good” at handwriting?
- Body Awareness;
- Finger, Hand, and Wrist Strength;
- Vision and Sensory Skills;
- Posture; and
Although these five helpers are very important skills in handwriting development, they are not too be taken too seriously. They can be developed during most play experiences all along a child’s developmental stages. Today, we are going to take a look at the ways that we can engage our elementary school-aged “handwriters” in some “Summer Fun” that works on these skills!
The Five Nifty Handwriting Helpers!
This helper is
- our “internal map” that lets us know where all of our body parts are – without our having to look at them to find out!
- how we understand directional concepts, like up and down, left and right.
- what gives us a perspective about navigating our environment.
- the foundation that provides a child with the basic skills for learning letter formations, spacing, and fitting words and sentences on a line and a page.
Body Awareness can be developed through activities such as:
+ balance and coordination,
+ concentration, and
+ visual attention skills.
- Treasure and Scavenger Hunts encourage children to use their internal maps by asking them to
+ make left and right turns,
+ look up,
+ check on top or behind, and
+ look under.
- Relay races, tug-of-war, musical chairs, or simply rolling down a hill provides children with opportunities to
+ use the left and right sides of their bodies,
+ manage their weight against gravity, and
+ determine the distance between themselves and other people or objects.
Skateboarding and roller skating will definitely do the trick!
2. Finger, Hand, and Wrist Strength
This helper provides the foundation for
- efficient pencil control skills, and
- the ability to write for sustained periods of time with legibility and speed.
Fine-motor strengthening can be developed through activities such as:
- Spending time on the playground. Playground equipment offers children opportunities to use their fingers, hands, and wrists to
+ grab ahold, and
+ hold on.
And, as an added bonus, playgrounds also help to build gross motor strength for posture!
- Art projects that utilize simple sensory and creative components like paints, play dough, and putty provide younger children with the opportunity to
+ use their two hands together for precision work;
+ manipulate different tools and textures; and
+ use their fingers, hands, and wrists for sustained periods of fine motor activity;
Art also allows older children to enhance their fine-motor strength as they develop their creativity and visual perceptual skills.
- Gardening projects such as potted or plotted gardens for herbs, vegetables, or flowers, allow children to use their hands to
+ plant seeds, and
+ pull weeds,
while they experience a sense of joy and accomplishment and build self-esteem.
Sewing, woodworking, and building model airplanes also work well for that!
3. Vision and Sensory Skills
These helpers are those that allow children
- to see clearly,
- focus efficiently at near and far distances, and
- remember what they see and learn through their eyes.
They also provide children with an understanding of their environment through their senses of
- taste, and
Vision and Sensory Skills can be developed through activities such as:
- Board Games. They offer opportunities for children of all ages to
+ maintain eye contact,
+ focus with near vision, and
+ use eye movements to follow the game.
If you add a bit of mystery, let’s say by hiding the pieces of a word game in a plastic bin filled with sand, then you are working on the sense of touch at the same time!
- Music and dancing activities that ask children to learn new motor planning sequences, or practice previously learned routines, provide sight, hearing, and tactile experiences through
+ movement and
- Puzzles, both of the magic cube and interlocking type, provide visual skill enhancement as they demand
+ visual attention,
+ efficient scanning techniques, and
+ visual perceptual skills to complete them.
This helper allows children to learn using efficient
- seating and head positioning,
- attention to the task, and
- concentration skills.
Postural skills can be developed through activities such as:
- Walking, climbing, hiking, and biking, as well as exercises such wheelbarrow walks and races. These activities enhance a child’s
+ balance, and
Sports that include visual attention skills, such as ball challenges for the younger children, or bike riding or skateboarding through an obstacle course for the older ones, provide opportunities for
+ building core body muscles and
+ vision skills.
Vision and Posture are developmental partners: Vision skills enhance the development of the core body muscles – and the core body muscles enhance the development of vision skills.
- Discussing good posture will help children to
+ understand what “posture” is,
+ develop good postural habits, and
+ appreciate the importance of having good posture.
This helper allows children to
- master their handwriting skills and
- understand and appreciate their functional use.
Functional Practice of handwriting skills can be accomplished through activities such as:
- designing their own greeting cards and writing letters to their friends or a family member.
Making lists for groceries, to-do’s, and people to invite to their birthday party.
Recording their creative thoughts or journey experiences using writing prompts or travel journals.
I hope I’ve shared some different and exciting ideas for including the 5 Nifty Handwriting Helpers in your child’s Summer Fun!
As always, thanks for reading! And I look forward to your comments and feedback.
KatherineKatherine J. Collmer, M.Ed., OTR/L, is a pediatric occupational therapist who specializes in the assessment and remediation of handwriting skills and understands the link between handwriting skills and writing. She can be contacted via her website, Handwriting With Katherine. Disclaimer: The information shared on the Handwriting With Katherine website, blog, Facebook page, Twitter page, Pinterest page; in the Universal Publishing Handwriting Teachers’ Guides; on any guest blog posts or any other social media is for general informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for sound professional medical advice or evaluation and care from your physician/medical team or any other qualified health care providers. Therefore, the author of these links/posts take no responsibility for any liability, loss, or risk taken by individuals as a result of applying the ideas or resources.