How to work on prewriting skills without picking up a pencil!

Is your child hesitant to engage in coloring or pre-writing activities at home? Are you worried about their fine motor or grasp development?

There are many ways to work on developing you child’s prewriting skill and grasp, other than using traditional paper and crayons. Keep in mind that they are working on these skills throughout their day at school. Most often forcing your child to practice these skills before they are ready and/or motivated to do it will only lead to more resistance. Instead, try these alternative play ideas that will be not only helpful to their fine motor and grasp development, but they are fun!

• Use funny foam on bathtub walls and practice “writing”
• Fill a large Ziploc bag with colored hair gel. Seal with duck tape and use this as fun, squish writing pad, using their finger as the writing tool

gel writing

• Fill a shallow baking dish with salt, colored sand or flour and practice letter and line strokes with index finger

• Use lacing cards
• String beads or Cheerios onto a pipe cleaner

beads onto pipe cleaner

• Practice forming letters using Playdough or clay

writing letters in playdoh

• Practice “drawing” simple line strokes, shapes or letters into playdough using a small sized golf pencil

Have fun and don’t stress!  These activities are intended to be a fun way for you to engage with your child while helping to support their developing skills.

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Great speech and language resource

If you’re looking for a good resource for speech and language development and activities, try http://www.speakingofspeech.com. This is a great website with information and materials for all areas of development including articulation, vocabulary, concepts, and pragmatics. It was originally created for and by speech and language pathologists who posted activities they had made. However, parents and families are welcome to use the ideas and visuals as well. Just look under materials exchange and then click on the area you are interested in.

Core Strengthening Activities

What are core muscles?
Core muscles are the muscles of the abdomen, back, hips and shoulders. The job of the core muscles is to provide stability and work to keep your body upright as you sit and move. When one’s core is strong it takes little effort or strain to complete typical daily activities.

Weak core muscles can impact:
• Endurance
• Balance
• Coordination
• Focus and attention
• Fine motor skills

Signs of Core Muscle Weakness:
• Clumsiness
• Frequent shifting while seated- just can’t stay still
• Difficulty sitting unsupported
• Slouching and leaning on whatever is nearby i.e. wall, table etc.
• Losing balance easily
• Avoiding climbing activities

Listed below are some fun activities that can be done at home to target the core muscles. The most important thing to remember is that it is the QUALITY of the movement that matters most, NOT the quantity. Quality movements will build strength, control, postural stability and provide sensory input. Remember to get creative and keep it FUN! These activities can be hard work and in order for children to want to stick with it they must see it as play. Here are some activities to try at home:

1.  Wheelbarrow Walking

Hold child’s feet and have him/her walk on hands
Back should be straight not sagging and elbows should not be bent
More support can be provided by holding child’s lower trunk, hips or knees
As strength improves move your support distally toward feet
Can also progress activity by wheelbarrow walking up and down an incline or stairs as appropriate

2. Belly Play Propped on Elbows
Child lies on tummy ie. to color, look at books, do puzzles etc.
Child uses forearms to prop on bent elbows
Chest should not be resting on the floor

3. Magic Bicycle
Child lies on back, lifts both legs and moves legs in a bicycle motion as they “ride” their “magic” bicycle to whatever destination they choose
Have them ride slowly i.e. going down a hill, quickly to “pedal” up a hill, put on the brakes unexpectedly etc.

4. Snake Charmer
Child lies on back, play music
As music plays child pretends to be a snake and lifts shoulders and head from the floor
When music stops child slowly lowers to the floor

5. Row, Row, Row Your Boat
Have child hold a hoola hoop on one side while you hold the other side
Alternate rowing by leaning forward and back
Have the child work to pull him/herself back to a sitting position once reclined
For added challenge move the hoop unexpectedly side to side
This activity can be done in sitting, standing, high or half kneeling

6. Superman V-Up
Child lies on stomach and lifts arms, legs and head from floor with back arched
Sing a favorite song, count etc. to encourage child to hold this position
If child is unable to lift arms and legs together first practice just arms, just legs and progress to both as tolerated

7. Seal Walk
Child lies on stomach and uses only arms to pull self forward or back to move body

8. Bear Walk
Child places hands and feet on floor with bottom pointing up toward ceiling and walks in this position any direction

9. Floor Slides
Child lies on back on kitchen or hardwood floor and uses only their legs to scoot their body forward or backwards

10. Rough Seas
Place child in sitting on your lap or on a large ball (their feet should not be in contact with the floor)
Shift your weight or move the ball unexpectedly in various directions
Look for the child to maintain their balance by adjusting their trunk
Vary the speed with which you move
Child can pretend they are on a “ boat” and you are making “waves”

Try some of these activities with your child for a good workout!