Occupational Therapy and Educational Tips

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Note: These strategies are to be taken as a general  informational resource and not as a medical or therapy service. Please follow the recommendations of your medical and/or occupational therapy practitioner. 

" ... He has created an amazing new paper-LegiGuide- with visual borders for students who struggle with handwriting.  This paper is amazing!!!! My students looooved writing their names, and they really used the lines as a guide.  Highly recommended A++."                    - Zahava L. Friedman, MS, OT, BCBA

LegiGuide handwriting paper: Targets letter formation, sizing, spacing, and placement of letters on the line. 3 sizes available: Wide (Kinder), Medium (1st grade), Narrow (2nd grade +).  

Available through 7 Senses Therapy and  eSpecialNeeds

" ... already tried it out with one of my autistic students. He did really well. Thanks for a great product!!!              - Marlene B., MS.Ed. (Autism Clinician)

___________________________________________________    Paint with cut pen cap/cotton swab for grasp (tripod) development. Have extra cut cotton swabs for different colors.  I used a Bic pen cap. 

____________________________________________________    Multi-sensory visual motor tracing:  1) Trace the dots of the circle from top to bottom, left to right with the index finger (follow the writing/reading sequence). 2) Trace the inner circle with the  index finger.  3) With a dry erase marker, trace the inner circle and then the one to the right.  4) Follow steps 1-3 with the square and then triangle.  

 Note: Follow the sequence of the shapes as they are in pre-writing developmental order.  A vertical and horizontal line would come before the circle  (refer to The Beery-Buktenica Developmental Test of Visual Motor Integration). Pop-Up dot stickers, clear sheet protector, and markers  were  purchased at the Dollar General Store.


Establishing a Tripod Grasp with Rhyming.pdf Establishing a Tripod Grasp with Rhyming.pdf
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Try this adapted tripod (3 fingered grasp ) instead of the traditional grasp for students who may lack stability and awareness in their hands. This adapted grasp has 5 points of tactile sensory input: tips of first three fingers and between the top of the inside index and middle fingers . This increases pressure/ tactile input between the two upper fingers that may give added awareness as well as stability/control.

__________________________________________________     Teaching prepositions (inside, outside, between, above, below, aside/next to) along with pincer grasp (pads of thumb and index finger to pick up).

__________________________________________________  Use piece of cardboard to increase hand strength and to increase hand awareness (proprioception) with scissors. If child has difficulty cutting on the line, have them cut between 2 lines. The greater the distance between the lines, the easier it is cut within boundaries.

______________________________________________________  Use blank sheets of paper when tracing. Lined paper may cause visual distraction/confusion.

_________________________________________________        Activity for alphabet matching, finger strengthening, motor control, and learning prepositions (inside, outside, beside, between). Grasp erasers with clothespin and place into container.

__________________________________________________ An open web space (area between thumb and index finger) gives increased  mobility and control of fingers. Turn the  Kushy grip inside out. Push the pencil through the Kushy side. Place  fingers on the pencil under the grip. This will open the web space. Idea adapted from Jan McCleskey, MA, OTR.

____________________________________________________    Simple Sensory Sticks : Do-it-yourself sensory exploration, matching, and finger strengthening activity. Provides proprioceptive (joint awareness) input to fingers from the resistance of the clothespins.

Items used : sponge, rice, rubber band pieces, foil, pink Himalayan rock salt, flexible straw, medical/athletic tape, white Gorilla Glue, Gorilla Super Glue.

____________________________________________________     Tactile number match, finger strengthening, and development of pincer grasp (thumb and index finger) with clothespins. Raised dots purchased at Dollar Tree and reinforced with super glue.

____________________________________________________     Work on 1) pincer (pad of thumb and index finger) and/or tripod (thumb, index, and middle finger) grasp 2) regulation of pressure and 3) motor control during snack time with Cheerios and pretzel sticks. Note: stick does not entirely fit through hole, but will pick the Cheerio up with enough pressure into the opening. I used the same stick to pick up and eat them all

____________________________________________________      Music Time! Cricket, frog, pig rasps. Good proprioceptive instruments. Proprioception is the awareness of where our limbs are in space. Scraping of the instruments with the stick sends sensory input (vibration) throughout the hand (the hand holding the stick). This helps to "wake up" the hands. Some kids may have difficulty with fine motor tasks (writing, coloring, cutting, etc.) due to poor proprioception. The rasps are also good for bilateral coordination (the efficient use of both hands during an activity). They can be ordered at musiciselementary.com

__________________________________________________  Work against a vertical surface to increase strength/stability to the shoulder which is needed for fine motor control.

No ✏️ in PreK. Use small pieces of crayons & chalk to develop finger control, strength, awareness, and grasp. The resistance of the crayons and chalk helps with strength and awareness. Use short (golf) pencils in Kinder and First grade. Refer to the “Handwriting Without Tears” program.

HWT Help Me Hold the Crayon.pdf HWT Help Me Hold the Crayon.pdf
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Pencil control coloring shapes.pdf Pencil control coloring shapes.pdf
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Drum Lines- Tracing & Matching Activity.pdf Drum Lines- Tracing & Matching Activity.pdf
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Keeping Calm in The Classroom.pdf Keeping Calm in The Classroom.pdf
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Kids should be monitored when expected to trace. If not, you will will not know if they are learning the correct stroke sequence (top to bottom, left to right). Are they really learning how to make a "K" in the video?

Keeping Calm in The Classroom.pdf Keeping Calm in The Classroom.pdf
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Use this long eraser :                                                          - As a fidget to help with focus.                                          - Cut into small pieces and erase for proper grasp development.                                                                       - Erasing providesdeep pressure/resistive input for strengthening and joint awareness (proprioception) . Many kids write/color "hard" because they lack this awareness in their fingers and are seeking it.

Purchased at Dollar Tree (3 different ones come in a package). Google "long erasers" for vendors.

_________________________________________________       Pre-scissor and strengthening activity: (open/close hand movements): Draw lines/shapes. Punch holes while following the outline.Trace over shape with marker, crayon, etc. Tactile sensory input is provided  to fingers when tracing over holes. This provides increased awareness to fingers. Lack of awareness contributes to poor fine motor skills. 

 __________________________________________________ Scissor positioning (learned this from a teacher): place a sticker on the thumbnail and remind child that sticker needs to face up (towards sky, ceiling).  This will help keep the scissors in a vertical position while cutting. 


Fidget to help with focus and finger strengthening. Pull back and forth at knot/slide cut eraser pieces from side to side. Can also be used as a warm up before fine motor activity (drawing/coloring/writing/threading beads). Resistive exercises help with proprioception (joint/finger awareness).

_____________________________________________________  Finger strengthening and color matching with binder and paper  clips.

___________________________________________________  Work on finger strengthening with clothespin Tic-Tac-Toe using cardboard. Increase resistance by wrapping a rubber around the end.

____________________________________________________  Work on grasping, shoulder/finger strengthening, pincer grasp, counting/matching, crossing midline, and positional concepts. 1) Hold hanger in front of body at midline with the left hand and use the right hand to match/clip numbers. Then switch hands. 2) Teach "top" and "bottom" concepts by moving clip. Teach "middle" with 5 & 6.

____________________________________________________   Matching/pincer grasp/ hand strengthening activity: 1) Child rolls out the modeling clay (or Play-Doh for younger hands). 2) Have them push the straws into the clay. 3) Place toothpick into matching color straw.

____________________________________________________   Pre-writing foam sheet templates (with tactile borders) : design/cut your shapes, place inside sheet protectors, finger trace first, then use a dry erase marker. Follow developmental order: vertical line, horizontal line, circle, cross, square, triangle
(Reference: Beery-Buktenica Developmental Test of Visual-Motor Integration, Sixth Edition, The

____________________________________________________        Pom pom activity for matching, counting, and fine motor skill development (pincer grasp): Use thumb and index finger to push pom pom into shake straw. Can also use a hole puncher to make holes in straw and push different colored pom poms for multi-colored creativity.

_________________________________________________ Work on matching, bilateral hand skills/coordination, pincer grasp. Materials: shake straws, pipe cleaners, tape (to hold straws together)