Thursday, January 16, 2014

Handwriting and Scissor Skills--With a Little Help from Zoo Friends

When I saw a small pack of zoo critter foam beads at my favorite spot, Big Lots, I knew they would come in super handy for motivating students to practice their functional fine motor skills.

With second graders yesterday and a first grade guy today we practiced writing the names of the critters, while standing up and using the wall as our desk, and then put the menagerie into their critter cave (a squeeze-open coin pouch.)  I must say, most the the guys had quite a bit of difficulty making the opening of the coin pouch say, "Ah."

The student and I discussed how to spell each of the critter names, and I modeled how to write each one.  Then, we took my list and a blank sheet of paper over to the door for the student to have a turn.  Are you cringing at the student's grasp?  I am!
After each word I pointed out the letters I thought were written real well.  For those tricky letters I modeled again how to form them and the student tried writing the letter again. 

All three of the students had difficulty squeezing the ends of the coin pouch to open it.

We had critters mark the start and stop points along our mountainous road.

Pretty good accuracy, I'd say.

Let's see how he does on a curvy road.  Hmmm, the driving looks a little choppy.

I asked the student to point out the spots where he had "driven" his scissors the best.
Along with the teachers we OTs assess selected skills listed in the students' IEPs on an ongoing basis.  Lots of my students have goals related to legible handwriting and accurate scissor skills, so it's a fun way to determine how they're doing.  When I work 1-1 with a student I realize that their skills may appear to be of better quality than how they typically perform in the classroom, since there are fewer distractions when I work with them in a separate area of the classroom or the school.  It's not their typical performance, but it is representative of what they can do if some other variables (interaction with peers, extraneous noise...) are eliminated.

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