Tag Archives: fine motor

3 Ways to Motivate Handwriting Practice - plus tips for special needs and a review {undergodsmightyhand.com}

3 Ways to Motivate Handwriting Practice

My son has special needs and seems to understand that he has difficulty with prewriting and handwriting skills. He can actually complete many activities his occupational therapist and I give him, but motivating him to practice for any length of time takes some creativity.

Here are three ways we’ve found to increase interest.

3 Ways to Motivate Handwriting Practice - plus tips for special needs and a review {undergodsmightyhand.com}

3 Ways to Increase Interest in Handwriting Practice

  1. Provide scaffolding. Offer a few ways to guide handwriting practice rather than just copying. You can draw the shape or letter first, then have your child go over your marking with a highlighter or marker. You can also draw bubble letters to provide a “box” for your child to write within. (See this post at I Can Teach My Child for other scaffolding ideas.)
  2. Integrate sensory options. My son is a sensory seeker and needs almost constant deep sensory input. Having your child draw (with a finger or with an implement) in sand, shaving cream, oobleck, etc. can increase interest. You can even write the letters/shapes on fine sandpaper or another textured surface and allow your child to trace it with a finger. The caution here: Sometimes the sensory method becomes too enticing and he can’t focus on writing! We have to balance this, which is really just trial-and-error so far for us.
  3. Use specific tools to change the writing surface. Through tablets, we have access to so many amazing writing and prewriting apps. My son loves several of those and thrives using them. However, he also knows what else sits on an iPad desktop (more games!), and that can be a bit distracting for him at times.

We were recently introduced to the Boogie Board LCD eWriter.

Review of the Boogie Board eWriter, plus tips for increasing interest in handwriting practice

This tablet-sized device is solely an LCD screen with a stylus. It’s easy to hold, thinner than most tablets, and feels very smooth to write on. You easily jot any note down, then erase it with a simple push of the button at the top of the device.

Most importantly for our situation: my son loves writing on this device.

How We Use the Boogie Board LCD eWriter for Handwriting Practice

  • Tracing – I write the letter or shape first, then my son traces over it. (My youngest practices, too!)
    Review of the Boogie Board eWriter, plus tips for increasing interest in handwriting practice
  • Copying – I first draw a model of the letter or shape, then my son draws one beside my model.
  • Connect-the-dots – I draw a simple connect-the-dot image, number the dots, then my son does the connecting—and practices different line directions at the same time!
  • Smiley faces – My son’s occupational therapist helped him draw a smiley face (“circle, dot, dot, smile”) with arms and legs and a simple body. She first drew with him using hand-over-hand assistance, then had him complete certain parts on his own in subsequent trials.
  • Mazes – I create simple mazes that change direction, add curves, and more. So far, he loves these the most out of any other writing exercises.

Review of the Boogie Board eWriter, plus tips for increasing interest in handwriting practice

We generally just practice for 5-15 minutes each time. I’m aiming for 3 times a week or more with this device right now. We also allow him to have freewriting time before and after each mini-session. He mainly just scribbles (and erases repeatedly), but he allows us to position the stylus correctly, so he’s still getting practice controlling a writing implement!

Review of the Boogie Board eWriter, plus tips for increasing interest in handwriting practice

A few considerations:

It’s marketed as an environmentally friendly-alternative to taking notes on paper, but with just an 8.5-inch screen and no way to save the notes, I’m not sure how practical it is for general/daily adult use. However, as evidenced above, this device has great potential for special needs populations, schools, and therapists. My son’s occupational therapist says she could see many therapists using this as an alternative to a tablet device. My husband (a public school teacher) says he’d love a class set of these to use for group work, silent class-wide answers, and in-class practice. (Although he did say they’d need to be twice the size and half the price.)

For us, this device offers enough screen-like input to interest my son to write, but without the extra distractions of a tablet. We’re glad to have it for handwriting practice!

We’re going to use this device during December when we use our Grapevine Studies packet for study on the Christmas story. We love the “Birth of Jesus” traceables for our preschoolers, and we can use the Boogie Board to motivate my son to do the tracing and perhaps even freehand drawing of the story figures. (This particular study from Grapevine is 20% off from now until December 15th!)

How do you motivate your beginning writer or child with special needs to practice handwriting?

Disclosure: I was provided a free copy of the Boogie Board LCD eWriter from Stone’s Education in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own, and I only share what I believe to be helpful or useful.

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I am an affiliate for Grapevine Studies. If you click on a Grapevine Studies link and then make a purchase, I receive a small commission. This does not affect your final cost at all. Thank you for supporting this blog and my family!

This post is also linked up with The Homeschool Village’s Ultimate Homeschool Link-UpHomeschool Creation’s Preschool and Kindergarten Corner, In Lieu of Preschool’s Tuesday Tots, UpsideDown Homeschooling’s Hearts for Home linkup, and the Weekly Kids Co-op, Show and Share Saturday, and .


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Simple Handprint High-Five Card Craft {undergodsmightyhand.com}

Simple Handprint High-Five Card Craft

My kids are really getting into crafting lately. When I ask if they want to do a craft, Baby Girl hollers, “Craft! HOO-RAY!”

And, as most kids do, they love handprint crafts. (Didn’t you as a kid? I definitely did.)

We wanted to send a few cards in the mail lately, so I came up with a simple handprint high-five card to send off. (I’ve seen ideas similar to this and have modified the presentation and materials a bit.)

Simple Handprint High-Five Card Craft {undergodsmightyhand.com}

Materials needed:

Simple Handprint High-Five Card Craft {undergodsmightyhand.com}

  • Construction paper for the card
  • Kids’ handprints cut out on a different color of paper
  • Two strips of construction paper (about ½” wide and 2-3” long)
  • Tape (or glue, etc.)

Instructions for the Handprint High-five Card:

We draw our handprints first since the kids are most excited about that part. If your kids are older and improving their scissor skills, they can cut out the handprints.

I complete a majority of the next steps for now, but my kids help place the pieces on the card. They’ll be taking over more tasks soon, I’m sure.

I take the two strips of paper and fold it into accordion-style squares. Take one end and fold it back on itself to form a small square (see photo below). Then fold the opposite direction to make another square. Continue 5-8 times to create a small accordion-style fold.

Simple Handprint High-Five Card Craft {undergodsmightyhand.com}

Tape the folded paper in the middle of the inside of your card. (Alternatively, you can tape the folded paper to the back of one handprint first.) Adjust the positioning so you can fit all your kids’ handprints in the card.

Simple Handprint High-Five Card Craft {undergodsmightyhand.com}

Attach a handprint to the other end of the folded paper with a small piece of tape. Repeat for the other handprint(s) (number dependent on how many kids you have).

Simple Handprint High-Five Card Craft {undergodsmightyhand.com}

The folded paper allows the handprints to slightly pop off the card when opened and bounce a bit. High five! Plus, how fun is it to see how big your kids’ hands are at different ages, right?

Write a sweet/fun/silly note. Decorate with drawings, stickers, handwritten names, and more!

Now you have a fun Handprint High-Five card to send some joy to someone else!

For someone getting well or going through a medical procedure, we usually include, “sending high fives and prayers your way” in the note. For just a “thinking about you” card, we usually say, “high fives and hugs.” You could make a card like this for birthdays, congratulations, “thank you” notes, and more!

Who would you send a Handprint High-Five card to? If you’ve made one of these before, or make one soon, let me know how it went!

This post is also linked up with Homeschool Creation’s Preschool and Kindergarten CornerTuesday TotsToddler and Preschool Moms Pinning Party, the Weekly Kids Co-opShow and Share SaturdayFree Homeschool Deals’ Ultimate Pinterest Party, and Link & Learn.

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7 Sticker Activities and Crafts

Stickers may seem simple (and, well, they are), but stickers can also be used for many kinds of learning activities.

Using stickers:

  • engages creativity (through using one object in different ways),
  • incorporates fine motor skills (through peeling and placing stickers),
  • provides sensory input (especially useful for sensory seekers), 
  • and offers motivation for trying new activities or introducing new concepts.

7+ Stickers Activities and Crafts via Under God's Mighty Hand

7 Sticker Activities and Crafts for Preschool and Early Elementary

Though these aren’t typical stickers, I love this idea for foam bath “stickers” from The Pleasantest Thing. You can modify this idea for all sorts of themes and occasions, too.

And, if you’re looking for a way to organize stickers to keep them in reach well, check out this idea from KinderCraze.

Modifying Sticker Activities for Special Needs

Most of the activities above can be modified for a variety of special needs either by breaking down the activity into smaller steps, helping initiate the actual peeling process, or providing tactile and verbal cues.

Sticker activities might be especially enticing and difficult for sensory seekers. My son seeks deep sensory input and loves stickers. But, many times, he won’t even place a sticker on a piece of paper! He wants the stickers all over his face and arms so he can peel them off and on for great sensory input. In his case, I try to give him a 5-minute time limit of doing the activity correctly, then getting to use the stickers however he wants. His nervous system really does need the input. Having another child do the activity at the same time sometimes motivates him, as well, as does telling him we’re making the craft to give to or show someone else. (He loves to make cards for others.)

What about your kids? What are some of your favorite educational sticker activities? If you have a sensory seeker, how do you help them stay focused on a sticker activity?

This post is also linked up with The Homeschool Village’s Ultimate Homeschool Link-UpHomeschool Creation’s Preschool and Kindergarten CornerTuesday TotsHearts for Home linkupTender Moments with Toddlers and Preschoolers, the Weekly Kids Co-opShow and Share Saturday, and Free Homeschool Deals’ Ultimate Pinterest Party.

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Preschool Robot Theme Activities via Under God's Mighty Hand

Preschool Robot Theme Activities {featuring the book Boy + Bot}

My son loves robots. And it all began because of this book:

Preschool Robot Theme Activities via Under God's Mighty Hand - Boy + Bot book cover

Boy + Bot by Ame Dyckman (illustrated by Dan Yaccarino) is a fantastic tale of friendship, especially perfect for kids ages 3-8ish. And for the parents: It’s has great reread value. I’m not tired of it, I still grin at it, and we read it A LOT.

With my son’s infatuation with robots blooming from this book, I grabbed the opportunity to, of course, make a book-based unit out of it!

The following activities are geared to preschool age (2-5), and I’ve included a few modifications we used for special needs (particularly motor and speech delays).

We spread these activities over several days, rereading the story before each activity.

Preschool Robot Theme Activities via Under God's Mighty Hand

Identifying Shapes and a Shapes-Bot

After reading the story together, we went back through the book and looked for specific shapes. I asked, “Where’s a circle on this page?” If he couldn’t find a circle, I’d offer a more specific location: “Does Bot have a circle on him?” We tried identifying circles, squares, rectangles, and triangles.

He knows all the main shapes, but finding them within pictures was more difficult. Circles/Ovals were by far the easiest to locate for my boy:

Preschool Robot Theme Activities via Under God's Mighty Hand

Then, with some pre-cut shapes, he crafted his own robot out of shapes we looked for in the book.

Preschool Robot Theme Activities via Under God's Mighty Hand

Because he hadn’t done an activity like this before, I helped get him started with guiding him to picking out a body and head. He surprised me by putting the arms exactly where he wanted them to go! As you might be able to tell, my son also chose the very important placements of each “button.” :-)

Robot Sight Words

My son loved this activity inspired by Learn with Play at Home’s “Spot-a-Sight-Word” game.

I wrote our focus word (in this picture, “in”) on the whiteboard, read the word, had him read/approximate the word, and taught him the sign for it. (My son uses sign language as his primary mode of communication.) Then we read the story together and looked for the word. If we found the word, we made a tally mark on the whiteboard and counted up all the marks at the end of the book.

Preschool Robot Theme Activities via Under God's Mighty Hand

He’d get really excited when he would see the word in the story. He’d see it, point to the whiteboard and say, “in!” Then point to the word in the story and shout a much more emphatic, “IN!” with a big ‘ol grin on his face. {Proceed with momma heart melting.}

This week, we practiced the words, “in,” “want,” and “not.” I love this game. We’ll keep using versions of it.

We also read My Robot by Eve Bunting (illustrated by Dagmar Fehlau) and Beep and Bah by James Burks during this unit and looked for a few sight words. My Robot was an appropriate story. Beep and Bah was cute, too, but geared a bit more for kids older than preschool as it’s set up in comic form. It includes many opportunities to practice animal sounds, which is a good exercise for speech development.

Preschool Robot Theme Activities via Under God's Mighty Hand

Collecting Pinecones

For fine motor development, we used this idea from Formula Mom to decorate pinecones simply with pompoms. You could begin by collecting pinecones in a wagon like Boy does in the story. We had some pinecones already from some winter crafts, so we used those.

Because we’re trying to help our son express recalling events from books and his day to us through sign and verbal approximations, I placed three objects in front of him and retold the first page of Boy + Bot, leaving out what the boy collected in his wagon. I asked my boy if “Boy” collected crayons, pinecones, or sticks in his wagon.

Preschool Robot Theme Activities via Under God's Mighty Hand

 

He kept going for the crayons, so we got the book out and read the first page together. As soon as we read the page and I asked him which object “Boy” collected, he immediately went for the pinecone.

Preschool Robot Theme Activities via Under God's Mighty Hand

He “helped” me place the glue, said and signed a color before he picked up the corresponding pompom, then worked hard to place the pompom with just two fingers. (He tends to use his whole hand, but focuses hard to accomplish tasks like these.) A fun, quick, cute craft to practice fine motor control.

Preschool Robot Theme Activities via Under God's Mighty Hand

Add in Fitness

Because I’m a family fitness advocate, two ways you can easily add activity to this theme are:

-take a nature walk/hike and collect pinecones for the above craft.

-have a robot dance-off! Bust out your best robot dance moves for 3 songs in a row (or 15 minutes, or whatever amount of time would be appropriate for your age child). Add in directions like “freeze!” and work on concepts of “slow” and “fast” during this dance, too.

MiniBot!

Our “culminating event” was building robots from this awesome Wind-Up Robots kit from Creativity with Kids (Faber-Castell) with Daddy!

Creativity for Kids Wind Up Workshop Robot Kit by Faber-Castell

Caution: This kit does say ages 7 and up, and we agree if your children are trying to construct these by themselves. Both my husband and I were helping our boy, and we made sure his younger sibling was out of reach on all teeny tiny pieces. (Lots of teeny, tiny pieces.)

Preschool Robot Theme Activities via Under God's Mighty Hand

(While I’m disclaimer-ing, I have no current affiliation with this company. We found this kit while searching on Amazon, and we love it!)

The kit lets you build 5 wind-up toy robots!

Because building these robots involved fine movements, Daddy did a good bit of the work, while my son helped as he could, including pressing edges and pieces together, picking out the arms (when he would focus on it), and some coloring.

A little pushing here:

Preschool Robot Theme Activities via Under God's Mighty Hand

A little coloring there:

Preschool Robot Theme Activities via Under God's Mighty Hand

And we have a finished product! MiniBot, meet Bot. Bot, meet your mini.

Preschool Robot Theme Activities featuring Boy + Bot via Under God's Mighty Hand

Friends? {Affirmative!}

One more activity I would love to have done is a double/flip book with one side being a “story.” When you flip the book over to the “back cover,” it’s actually the front cover of an “instruction manual.” (This makes sense when you read Boy + Bot.) Have you seen books like those? My son isn’t quite at the point of making up stories, yet, but when he is, I think an activity like this would be a great addition. (If there’s interest in this activity or if anyone wants clarification, let me know. It might become a new post!)

There you have it! A theme ‘o robots!

Oh, by the way, the sign for “robot?” It’s totally just “robot arms” moving. My son looks like he’s doing a speedy robot dance when he signs it. Love it!

Have you completed a robot unit with your child? What are some of your favorite robot books?

This post is also linked up with the“Tell Me a Tale” linky, The Homeschool Village’s Ultimate Homeschool Link-Up, and Homeschool Creation’s Preschool and Kindergarten Corner.

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