Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Pre-writing is FUN! Week #5

Hello Everyone and welcome back to week #5 of Pre-writing is FUN! I apologize for the delay on this post, but I have been under the weather since last Friday. This past week in the Apple Room, we started with our routine pass the putty activity talking about our weekends! A lot of skiing, snowboarding and sledding with hot chocolate going on! We then moved into some calming, self-regulating yoga poses and engaged in some deep breathing as well. Next, I explained all of the stations to the kids, split them up and they began on their fine motor adventure!

The first station was building Mat Man™ . The Apple kids are amazing with Mat Man™ now, and for the most part, are independent in building him appropriately! This group was having fun making him into a monster with a million eyes after they had built him correctly. A lot of the kids still need help with where to place his arms, as noted to the left. However, they quickly move the big lines when I ask them if their arms come out of their waist or shoulders?! In cleaning up Mat Man™ I heard the students putting the lines and curves together using the vocabulary from HWT®, which is awesome (big lines, little lines, big curves, little curves)!
The next station was pulling beads out of putty. (I've described the benefits of putty in previous posts and also a link to buy it on Amazon, so check those out!)
To the right, the children are working hard to squeeze and pinch the putty using their tactile sense to find the beads. Then, they have to use their "pinchers" and intrinsic hand muscles to pull the beads out! The kids then had fun making their putty into pancakes, as shown below, and then placing the beads back in for their friends.

Zoo sticks are the best! They promote children to use their "pinchers", open up their web space, which is the space between the thumb and pointer finger that should make a circle during writing, and strengthen intrinsic hand muscles required for pre-writing and writing. In the picture to the right, Henry is using the zoo sticks to place beads in the flowers center, and his partner is counting how many he has done so far, incorporating some early math skills into this station. It is important to note that if you do get these for home, please ensure the children are using them correctly. Using their whole hand or all of their fingers does not strengthen the same muscles as when just using their "pinchers" mimicking a tripod pencil grasp. I also let children add their middle finger for added support, if needed, mimicking a functional quadripod pencil grasp. You can also place a small bead in the palm of the child's hand that the ring finger and pinky need to hold, separating the two sides of the hand and again, focus on improving the strength and coordination needed during pre-writing and writing tasks!

Legos, Legos, Legos! Need I say more? Kids love Legos and the Apple kids were so creative in their designs! Legos work on sharing, socialization and working together all while improving fine motor and visual motor skills!

Now, that everyone's hands were warmed up, it was time for some pre-writing! The worksheets that we completed were out of the Get Set For School™workbook from HWT. To the right, Josie Kai is using a beautiful tripod grasp on her pencil and helping to draw lines at the bottom of the birdcage in a left to right manner. The kids had so much fun doing these worksheets, and the photos below speak for themselves! The 4 activities that the students completed, which went home with them last Friday, worked on drawing lines in a left to right and top to bottom manner. *Please note, we have a few lefties in the class. Left handed students can make lines from right to left, such as in crossing a T, t. However, when making circles, please encourage a counter-clockwise direction, as this is helpful in building good habits needed to form some of their letters (c, a, o, g, d). One worksheet also had kids find certain items in a picture of a house, working on visual discrimination and figure ground abilities. The kids then had to color in the items increasing distal motor control (small refined movements of the hands). All of these pre-writing skills are fun and so important for kids to learn before diving into writing. These foundational skills improve children's fine motor and visual motor abilities, increase spatial awareness, provide them with the correct vocabulary to help them begin forming their letters appropriately,  and allow for fun and sensory exploration, all while building self-confidence!

No Tears! Pre-writing is FUN!

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