This week I have gotten to the point where I am directly participating in the treatment sessions of our students, so it has been a really great learning experience this week! I am still learning a lot about Handwriting Without Tears (HWT), and the more I work with students in HWT workbooks, the more I like the protocol. In regards to HWT, this week I worked with more students on formation of letters in different ways. With some students, we formed letters with wooden pieces that fall within the HWT vocabulary, such as big line, little line, big curve, little curve. These phrases make it easier for students to visualize what letters they are forming. I also worked with students on writing their letters on a small chalkboard, in order to focus on one letter at a time. This helps them focus in on exactly how to form the letter without worrying about a piece of paper with multiple items on it. With students who display fine motor weakness, we asked them to retrieve small beads from theraputty in order to strengthen their hands and progress their fine motor skills. I was able to spend a lot of time in preschools this week, and luckily I was able to spend a lot of time brainstorming ways to incorporate more fine motor tasks into their classrooms without disrupting their daily routines. I attached some resources regarding preschool level fine motor activities so you can take a look at some easy-to-implement activities for any classroom! I have also listed out some of our ideas below
- Creating laminated sheets of paper for each student that include the student’s name, as well as shapes such as vertical and horizontal lines, circles, squares, etc. in order to allow the students to practice their writing using a marker.
- Bringing in a fake plant and squirt bottle to allow the students to pretend to water the plant by squeezing the squirt bottle.
- Using clothespins to work on fine motor and letter recognition by writing letters on the clothespins, and having students put the clothespin on the letter that it matches, or on the item that starts with that letter (I have provided pictures below of what the students would pinch the clothespins on to). The clothespins could also be used to hang up “laundry” on a clothes line during play activities.
- Bringing in empty containers, such as a cool whip container, and poking holes in the top so the students can use their pincher fingers to poke objects inside.
- In the classroom, we noticed that there are animals with Velcro pieces for each child to use. Pulling off and putting on Velcro is a great way to address fine motor skills, so we could possibly have all of these animals on a strip of Velcro in the morning, and each child can take their animal off, and place it at the station they are going to work in.
- Stickers can be used to work on fine motor skills as well, so these could possibly be used as a reward, such as a student gets a sticker at the end of the day if they worked hard and had a good day, and they can take the sticker off of the paper themselves.
This week I was also able to attend a few Individualized Education Program (IEP) meetings with professionals from various disciplines and with parents of students. It is always beneficial for me to observe interactions between professionals, and between professionals and parents in order to best understand everyone’s role, and to best understand how to explain concepts to parents who may not be familiar with the role of each professional.
In a little over two weeks, I will be attending a parent information session regarding fine motor and self-help skills in children with Down syndrome. Holly, one of the OTs that I am working with during my rotation, is presenting at this session and asked me to compile some research for the presentation. I have attached some articles I found because I think they contain really great information about children with Down syndrome that is directly related to OT, and how we approach these deficits in a school based setting.
Fine motor resources:
Down syndrome research articles: