Let’s face it, if something is hard for you, it’s often not fun.
I have a lot of children I work with who are seeing me due to handwriting concerns. Often there are underlying issues that hinder that progress- attention and focus deficits, eye teaming issues, low core and upper body strength, bilateral and oculomotor coordination delays, fine motor delays, and so forth.
And very rarely will you see me working on writing letters over and over again. First, they need those underlying skills before they can be expected to work on forming letters. Second, they hate writing. It is hard for them, there is no reward that they see, and all they’ve heard over and over again is that they need to work on it.
They’ve shut down. And I don’t blame them.
So I do everything in my power to make writing fun once we get to that point.
I was so lucky to choose a few products from Uncommongoods.com to review, though the opinions are all my own. If you’re not familiar with Uncommongoods, they are an amazing website where you can always find just the right gift for every person in your life. I love the variety of kids items they have, so many creative and learning possibilties. They focus on handmade, recycled, and organic products which is right up my alley. And at every checkout, you can pick a nonprofit for them to donate $1 to. Like I need more reasons to shop?!?
So without further ado, here are nine amazing products I recommend you add to your classroom, therapy toolbox, or home to help engage your learner in some handwriting!
Strengthen your fingers.
I LOVE Thinking Putty. It’s my absolute favorite brand of putty. They’re so creative with their different types- glow-in-the-dark, liquid glass, black light, and super magnetic putty just to name a few. The putty has a great resistance to it, similar to theraputty, to really help strengthen the fingers. You can hide items in the putty to have your children find and pull out. You can roll the putty into letter shapes. You can simply roll and squeeze and play with it. I also love this Design Your Own putty kit!
Work on finger dexterity.
Make sure you can use all of your fingers individually and you are able to isolate them from each other. It’s impossible to try to teach someone an appropriate grasp if they can’t even isolate their fingers. Love these little paint brushes that go on your fingers! You can challenge your kids to only use their pointer finger for yellow and their ring finger for red and so forth.
Get a writing instrument in their hands without letting on that they are writing.
These magnetic tablets are a huge hit at our office and at my home (even with my teenager!). What is it about them that makes them such a hit? I’m really not sure. I think some of the kids think it’s almost magical to watch the metal beads come up with a little stroke of their magnetic pen. It also seems to be extremely cathartic. The kids become so quiet and still while they try to make a design or get every single ball up. I, personally, love the A-to-Z magnetic tablet, as you can work on the formation of letters with some great instantenous feedback that is very rewarding to the kids. And guess what? They are holding a writing utensil. They don’t know it, but they’re working on their grasp.
Next, do some drawing.
Drawing is not writing. Drawing is more fun than writing. One can hate handwriting and still like to doodle. Drawing can be done in a way that the child doesn’t even realize they are using all of the same skills that he would also use for writing. Some great drawing games to add to your toolbox:
This Art Dice game looks like so much fun and reminds me of a Silly Sentence game I play at my office a lot. Kids love to be silly. Encourage that. Work with that. You simply roll the die and draw a picture according to the prompts that appear. As they say on their website- next thing you know, a bespectacled unicorn is chasing a UFO on a palm tree-dotted desert island. I also tend to work with a lot of children who tend to work from a very literal place and these would be great for helping strengthen their abilities to think outside-of-the-box and strengthen their imaginations.
I love the idea of this Body Doodles game and it will definitely be finding a place under our Christmas tree! Okay, maybe not something you want to do with other people’s kids without their permission. For the record, I’ll give my permission now for any of you to play it with either of my boys. I also love that this game works on body parts and left/right discrimination.
Another silly, fun, outside-of-the-box drawing game is WhatchamaDRAWit. One player pulls a prompt that reads something like “Draw a rowboat floating on top of a mountain” or “Draw a laughing squid talking on a cell phone while sitting in a bathtub” and the other players rush to draw their interpretation of the prompt. Definitely a game for lots of laughs!
And now, finally, let’s do some writing.
But let’s not *drill* letters. Instead, make it fun! Kids are more open to learning when it’s fun. So am I, for that matter.
This Comic Book Kit is perfect for a wide range of kids. Comic books are well-loved from kindergartners to high school students (actually, I know a few adults that love them as well). Why not let them create their own comic books? Something they’ll surely love but at the same time be working on handwriting! It comes with the markers, instructions, and blank pages. When you have finished you send it out in the pre-paid envelope to be professionally bound!
We have the Story Cubes at our office and they are always a great hit. First, they take away the whole, “I don’t know what to write about!” Often, initiating is the hardest part of writing. These are similar to the art dice I spoke about above- you roll the dice and write a story using the prompts that appear. When working in a group, kids love to challenge each other to see who can make the silliest story or who can use the most prompts in one paragraph.
And lastly, we have the Storymatic Kids Game. Another silly prompt-giving game to help children write their own stories. They’ll be laughing so hard, they’ll forget they’re writing. Also, pack these along for long car rides- forget about the writing for the day and practice the art of oral story-telling to entertain each other. Family memories in the making, for sure!
I hope you enjoy, have fun, and find success in some of these products. I would love to hear what has worked for your unwilling writers in the comments below. Happy writing!