Beginning our time this morning, we sat in a circle and passed the putty again! Each child took a turn squeezing, pinching, and passing the putty. As mentioned in Week #1 blogpost, Theraputty is a great tool to use for strengthening the hand and finger muscles, especially prior to coloring, writing, drawing. It can also be used as a calming modality for children who fidget with their hands often. It holds more resistance than play-doh providing children with more proprioceptive input and feedback. The children told me about their weekend plans, and it seems a lot may be headed to the mountain for some skiing and riding! Next, we sang a song from HWT® called Where Do You Start Your Letters? This song helps to teach children at a young age to use a top to bottom approach when writing uppercase letters. Starting at the top, and getting in the habit young, makes writing easier and more fluid for children.
After we took turns around the circle, I introduced the children to all of the stations that were set-up around the classroom. This weeks main focus was using sensory motor ways to build letters, and I had each child initiate with practicing the correct formation of the first letter in their name. Once they mastered that letter they could move and make other letters or make pictures. Please enjoy seeing the kids working below, and excuse the quality of some of the pictures!
Station 1 - Mat Man™
Zoo sticks are an awesome tool to help increase intrinsic hand strength and improve fine motor coordination. I've talked about them in my What's in My Kids Easter Baskets? posts. The kids were taught to use their "pinchers" instead of all 5 fingers or a fist, and every single one of them held the zoosticks properly! When kids hold the zoo sticks with their "pinchers" they are facilitating a pencil grasp. When they hold them improperly, they are not working to build the appropriate finger and hand muscles and quality over quantity is what is important here! There are a million activities that you can do with zoo sticks and they also work as a great clean up tool; think small legos!
Station 5 - Wikki Stix
I have to say that I think this may have been the favored station amongst all of the children! I know Henry came home and said this was his favorite and the kids were also asking to bring them home and make sure that I left some in the classroom for future use! Parents, you may be visiting Amazon and ordering a pack soon! The link takes you to the search page for Wikki Stix, so you can order as little or as many as you like! This station was a favorite with Mrs. Adams I think too, she was so excited to watch the kids independently build out their entire name when all we instructed them to do was build the first letter and then be creative from there! These kids rock!
Station 6 - Rice & Beans (Lentils & Chic Peas too!)
The last station was a tray of rice and beans where the kids were encouraged to use their isolated pointer finger to draw the first letter in their name. We encouraged the students to start at the top, wherever that was for where they were standing, and for many, this had already become habit after only an hour of practicing!
Multisensory experiences are wonderful to do with your pre-schoolers before getting to the pencil and paper, as developmentally some may not be 100% ready! Incorporating the senses increases the likelihood that kids will learn and retain information as well. It allows children to learn in different ways and neurologically, it allows the brain more opportunities to store and integrate this information and retrieve it when moving to pencil and paper is appropriate and more consistent.
Looking forward to Pre-writing is FUN! Week #4 on February 27th. Hopefully, this gives everyone some fun, multisensory activities to do with your kids over President's Week!