This summer, I was honored and humbled by the thoughtfulness of eight inspiring and knowledgeable Occupational Therapists who so lovingly shared their time and expertise with my readers on the Handwriting is Fun! Blog. Their willingness to jump in and give me a hand when I needed it most won’t ever be forgotten, for sure.
Most importantly, however, their words of wisdom in the 10 blogs they shared will help so many readers for years to come.
In that light, I wanted to take a moment to thank them personally and to share their work with you once again. And, as always, thank you to my readers. You are the foundation upon which the success of the Handwriting is Fun! Blog is built.
Katherine 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.
The “Summer Handwriting Fun” series proudly presents a Guest Post from the amazing Miss Jaime OT! We are pleased that she has joined us in sharing fun and motivating activities that help children master their handwriting development skills. Handwriting is a complex activity and involves many visual perceptual skills, one of which is spatial awareness. Miss Jaime is here to highlight one of her special strategies for enhancing spatial awareness with handwriting. I know you will enjoy her work! Be sure to visit her site and comment on this article so that she knows how much you appreciate her! Miss Jaime, you’re on!
Introducing “Spaghetti and Meatball Spacing”
One of my favorite Handwriting lessons to teach to my kids is “Spaghetti and Meatball Spacing.” In order to write neatly, your letters and words need to be spaced properly. Children learn the concept of spacing as soon as they start learning to write. It can be easy for some children but hard for others. Some teachers teach finger spacing, but finger spacing only applies to spaces between words. Children need help to understand the concept of spacing their letters within a word, too. I love to teach this with “Spaghetti and Meatball spacing.”
You may be thinking, “What on earth is Spaghetti and Meatball Spacing?” I don’t blame you! Spaghetti and Meatball Spacing is a lesson that I teach to help children learn how to space properly when writing. Teachers often ask me, “Why doesn’t Johnny remember to space his letters?” The truth is that children need to learn how to space their letters and words. They don’t just automatically “get it.” Using the concept of “Spaghetti and Meatballs” can help a child to remember to space properly in between the letters and words. It is a fun way to provide visual cues for proper spacing.
The letters in a word need to be placed next to each other. They can’t be too far apart and they shouldn’t be touching. Children know that spaghetti is thin and meatballs are round. Using the concept of a stick of spaghetti is a great way to get kids to leave the correct amount of space between letters in their words. I like to use a real piece of spaghetti the first time I teach this concept to my students. It makes the kids laugh, which makes them excited to get started. Motivation is key for good handwriting! After I teach the kids the concept, I use Wiki Stix to reinforce “Spaghetti Spacing.” (Wiki Stix are wax covered pieces of yarn.) I give each child two wikis (one for the meatball and one for the spaghetti). They can keep them in their supply box and take them out when they grab their pencil before a writing activity. I show the children to put their line of “spaghetti” down after each letter in a word. After the children get more comfortable with it, they can write the word and then use the wiki to “check” to see if they have left the right amount of space. Here are some examples:
The words in a sentence need to have “Meatball Spaces” in between them. I use a balled up wiki to be my Meatball when I teach about Meatball Spaces. The kids can place the Meatball after each word to make sure they leave enough space before they write the next word. Again, once they get more comfortable, they can use their Meatball to “check” that their spaces between the words are big enough. Here are some examples.
Tying it all together
Children need to practice spacing their letters and words all through Kindergarten. Most children are able to grasp the concept of proper spacing after some practice, but children who have difficulty with spatial awareness need more help to really master spacing when writing. Teaching “Spaghetti and Meatball Spacing” is the perfect way to teach both spacing in between letters AND spacing between words. Using the wiki stix helps to create a multi-sensory lesson that children remember and enjoy. Try it – Everybody loves “Spaghetti and Meatballs!”
~Miss Jaime, O.T.
Jaime Spencer is a pediatric Occupational Therapist with fifteen years experience in Long Island, New York. She currently works in a public school with students Kindergarten to 5th grade. She also has ten years experience working in a sensory gym with preschool age children.
She has a Bachelor’s degree in Occupational Therapy from Utica College of Syracuse University and a Master’s Degree in Special Education from Adelphi University. She was recently certified in Assistive Technology from California State University Northridge.