Southpaw Enterprises
Pawprint  July 2009
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Deanna MacioleFinding the Fun in Handwriting 
Deanna Macioce, MS, OTR/L
Summer is finally here!  So often, we start off planning how to fill all those weeks off of school for our children, to then come and find August is here before you know it.  Leaving us wishing we got more done, or had more time to go places.  Between family gatherings, vacations, and sport obligations, as well as all the "have-tos", it is no wonder why we sometimes feel our lives are in a whirlwind.  And then, there are all the summer assignments sent home from school in an attempt to make sure the break keeps the kids right on track.  There is one thing that tends not to happen often enough during the summer... handwriting.  How many children truly want to sit down to do work that requires using paper and pencil?  They want to be outside riding bikes, playing at the park, or swimming.  Well, this month we are going to look at some other ways handwriting can be addressed without a pencil and paper or adding anything else onto your plate.

First, we need to really look at what goes into the task of handwriting.  If this an area of difficulty for your child, to truly address it you need to know whether it is a visual motor, fine motor control, core stability, or motor planning concern .  There is more to handwriting than just using a pencil to form letters.
Handwriting starts from the core.  This means that if your child lacks trunk, shoulder and wrist stability, handwriting is not going to be very easy for them and is usually fairly sloppy.  Children with decreased core stability tend to fatigue faster and demonstrate difficulty maintaining a proper grasp.  Some activities that can be done to work on these core muscles include relay races in the yard using animals walks (crab walking, bear walking, etc), wheelbarrow walking, and to increase shoulder stability have them carry a small item such as a marshmallow on spoon with their arm extended and then drop it into a cup.  Improve trunk muscles with swinging on a disk swing, and increase the challenge by having them pick up bean bags from the ground to toss at a target. This is also beneficial for the visual motor component.  Swimming, bike riding, and using a scooter are all other excellent activities to increase core stability.  In addition, if you have you children participate in weekly chores, allow them to do the ones that will require them to use extended arms while standing, such as cleaning windows and mirrors, painting a fence, or washing walls.

If your child struggles with sizing and spacing, usually this means that they have decreased visual motor skills.  Some fun summer activities to address these skills include ball catching, or any other fun activity such as paddle ball, Velcro ball catch, or Frisbee.

If you tend to find that your child has more difficulty with forming the letters, then activities of motor planning will be more beneficial.  Toss aside the pencils and papers and use play-doh, straws, or toothpicks to form the letters.  In addition, allowing them to practice letter formation using a bucket of water and paintbrush on the cement, this will make it fun to form the letters and watch them disappear. 
For strengthening fine motor control, playing in sand or water is definitely a summer favorite.  Allow them to scoop and dump which will help address grasp and wrist strengthening.  Using play-doh for squeezing and pinching is a great way to increase fine motor muscle strength.  And we cannot forget an all-time summer favorite...water guns. 

So, do not let the summer get away from you this year!  There are plenty of things to do to help address the not-so-favorite activity of handwriting! 

Do you have a tiny budget and large dreams?

Do you need help deciding which products will help your children who have sensory needs?
Do you need to write a grant to obtain money for a Sensory room?

We Can Help!
Southpaw Enterprises Offers:
- A full range of Sensory Integration products for classrooms and therapy rooms.
- A knowledgeable staff to help you decide what equipment meets your needs.
- An experienced grant writer who can help you by editing your grants, suggesting grant sources, and offering funding secrets.
For assistance with your grant, email