Once a child has learned to identify uppercase letters, then its a good time to start learning how to "build" them . Its best to build the letters before actually writing them, because the building helps children remember the strokes needed and the large muscle movement is great because it helps them to integrate what they have learned. I used this simple activity with a child that was also working on core and upper body strength. He brought along a favorite stuffed animal, so I gladly let the doggie play too.
Platform swing or a therapy ball will work well too
Various wooden shapes (or make your own) from Handwriting Without Tears
Building Mat (in orange here, which is a 9.5x11 foam with smiley face in upper left corner)
Uppercase letter card (or if you child knows the strokes, then you can call out to them)
I spread out the shapes and he worked on finding and building each uppercase letter one at a time. I put some shapes further away so he'd have to pull and crawl to retrieve the shape (therefore using core and upper body strength).
Once he found the shapes needed, he built the letter on the mat beside the stimulus. You can modify the activity to be more or less challenging. For example: to make it harder, you could take away the stimulus cards and ask child to find a "big line and a big curve" and then see if they can make a letter with it (D).
Shelley Spangler Misiaveg, OT/L, found and shared this article with me. Its a great one that explains research regarding creeping, crawling and reflex integration relates to academic ability.
I love this stuff. Way back, us therapists had to order blah putty from rehab suppliers and although it worked, it was just, blah. Crazy Aaron has a variety of putty and kids love it. Adults love it. Other than being fun, and a tactile experience, what do therapists use it for?
Most of my kiddos I see at Learning Charms need hand and finger strengthening and tendon excursion. These things are necessary for proper fine motor skills (think handwriting and arts).
Often I use it initially for preschoolers who are not exhibiting a functional crayon grasp, such as in the picture here. In this picture, this little girl is using a whole hand grasp for drawing. She also has difficulty with buttoning, cutting and manipulating small items.
Summer is a great time to do advanced timing training with Interactive Metronome technology.
If the Charlotte weather is keeping your kids inside, consider an obstacle course, like the one here in our gym. You don't need fancy equipment to do it. Obstacle courses are extremely fun for kids and they increase skills in: gross motor coordination, sensory processing, visual motor, sequencing, timing and even visual perceptual skills. A three year old can handle about 3 parts, while older kids (3td grade) should be able to complete 5-6 part obstacle courses.
On mine, I incorporated visual discrimination and matching with the white letters (face down) around the swing. The child had to match letters (visual discrim) of her last name while laying on the swing on her belly (core strength). She picked up the letter and propelled the swing with her arms (upper body strength) to match the letters.
If you have some cushions, pillows, and old comforters, then consider making a big crash area in your obstacle course. Kids love it and it is a great way to get some proprioception (think calming) on an indoor day.
There seems to be lots of questions each year about what is on the CAIS (Charlotte Area Independent Schools) tests for pre-schoolers. First of all, not all private schools participate in CAIS testing. The private schools that do require it (as of today) are:
Charlotte Christian School
Charlotte Country Day School
Charlotte Latin School
Charlotte Preparatory School
Providence Day School and
Trinity Episcopal School
The CAIS test looks at kindergarten readiness in a variety of areas. The CAIS testing for preschool students are administered by a licensed psychologist that is on the CAIS approved list. For the 2014-15 school year, there are 10 psychologists that can administer testing, including: Melanie Powell, Frank Gaskill (Southeast Psych) and Trey Ishee (Southeast Psych).
The assessment is the Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence (WPPSI-IV). Here are some of the areas it tests:
Often, we get occupational therapy referrals from these CAIS tests. The psychologists will note a deficit in an area that needs improvement and suggest O.T. prior to entrance to kindergarten. Really good psychologists will also note children who need to work on their pencil grasp, handwriting, motor skills and processing speed. Sometimes a referral is made to a speech therapist if verbal areas need improvement.
There are times when a child will get "conditional" acceptance to a school based on the criteria that a child makes improvement in a needed area. Schools may even ask for a written progress report from speech or occupational therapy to demonstrate adequate progress and parental involvement.
Could it be sensory processing disorder?
A good read - a Mother's blog about her son's journey.
Charlotte readers- great video about vestibular system
This is a great article about Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) and behaviors associated with SPD.
About the blogger: Stephanie Wick is a pediatric occupational therapist that founded and is lead O.T. at Learning Charms.
Read past Blog here