Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Handwriting IV

A quick tip I came across the other day.  I'm not sure where I came across it though, sorry.  But the thought was about tearing paper.  I find that tearing paper is very difficult for toddlers and preschoolers, even up to 5 years old.  Ripping the paper requires them to bring one hand back and the other hand forward, which is difficult but the biggest thing is starting the paper.  Typically I began the paper for them with a little rip on the top but the idea was this...use craft scissors (pinker/pinking shears) to cut the paper for the child.  The zig zag makes it's easier for them to rip.  So I'm going to try it soon! 
Another side note:  Scissors-  if scissors are being held and used correctly, they themselves help strengthen the hand using that helps with the strength in the hand also, necessary for strong handwriting skills.  In our program we do a scissors activity daily, separate from a fine motor activity. 

Ocular Movement:
So what is Ocular Motor Skills or Movements?  Without getting into too much detail it's really refers to the ability of the eyes to working together to focus on an object and keep it in the line of vision even if it is moving (so focus and track).  Also, ocular movements compensate for our own body's the object isn't distorted.  I'm sure you can see just how it plays a part in reading and writing.  Again, I'm not a specialist in these areas.  But I'm a big believer that early childhood teachers/care providers should be well aware of development and possible delays is in typical development so that we can get our families the assistance that they need to better help their child be successful.  If children have difficulty in this area, as they get older one might notice poor penmanship, poor spacing with their letters and words, difficulty copying letters, needing to put their finger under each letter/word when they should be reading more fluently without, they might begin to skip words as they are reading and so on.  It really does effect more than just that though.  When vision problems are going undetected, these children are missing a lot of information and are often unable to retain the information given to them visually and that will effect the whole realm of learning...which then can lead to behavior problems also.  Maybe this is a good time for another "sidenote".  :-P I find that when children have behavior problems... providers/teachers (especially at the elementary and higher level) tend to focus on the behavior when the behavior is actually caused by something else.  I often told those I worked with to look beneath the behavior.  Observe, keep track, get that relationship with the child and the true reason (which is often because of something beyond the child's control- vision, cognitive, physical, so on) and go from there.  Find the root of the problem...don't focus on the leaves. 

Activities to do with this thought in mind:
*  Right from babies you can keep this in mind and "track print".  So when you are reading a book, point to each word as you say it.
*  I often have pointers available and children will "track" with me with the displays.  Many Montessori blogs show poems that they have available for the children.  In Kindergarten, typically there is a song, poem, sentence on large chart paper to track.  This is done in some preschools also.  :-)  I'd like to incorporate more of that in my own program.  We tend to do a lot of tracking at a smaller scale but I could definitely incorporate poems and such at a larger scale.
*  For little ones, be sure to encourage tracking of a rattle or your face/fingers...right from birth!
*  Children love flashlights.  Have them move a flashlight along a wall or ceiling and follow it visually.  Perhaps you want to add a basic concept reinforcement...have them track with their eyes and flashlight a row of shapes, colors, alphabet, numbers and so on.
*  Mazes- this doesn't work well for very young preschoolers.  Nice for older students but you can find or create very simple paths to follow that work the same as mazes.  I tend to put these in plastic page protectors and into a binder.  Then we can reuse them over and over.  :-)  Here's an example of a "maze" that is in our Kumon Tracing binder.  This has gotten a lot of use.  The children love this progressive book. So colorful!  They have a colorful tracing page and then the back side of that page is a practice sheet. 
*  Hidden picture pages/books, again I tend to tear the pages out and put them in page protectors and into binders.  There are a lot of these types of printables available on the Internet.  And, of course, don't forget about the Highlights publications.  Kids love to get stuff in the mail!

Eye-Hand Coordination
Eye-hand coordination is something we use all day long, every day of our life.    And really, handwriting, tying your shoe, buttoning your shirt, zipping your jacket is quite a thing for some kids.  It requires them to use together their cognitive, vision, sense of touch and movement to get the task done.  Some children will avoid this type of thing when it becomes difficult but that's something we can not allow.  :-)  So make it fun for them!  Eye Hand Coordination activities aren't fancy.  Much of it can be done throughout the day with their own toys.
*  Throwing balls, bean bags and etc into a target, starting closer and moving farther away.  This week we had our hula hoops out so we also used it as a target.  (Tossed the fish into the pond.)
* Bowling pin set
* Pegs into a peg board
* hammer and tack set
*  The balloon batting that I mentioned in a previous post is also good for eye-hand coordination.
* Dressing dolls (you can purchase these type of dolls that have shoe lacing, buckles, zipper, buttons, velcro and so on from and other like stores/suppliers).
* puzzles and any type of manipulative toys.
* sensory activities are great for this...digging and scooping and transferring to another container is perfect for this.
* lacing large beads onto dowels (or laces if they are capable).
* Yes, and even video and computer games can benefit hand-eye coordination.  Just use them in small doses please!
*  tweezers moving items from one place to another. I feel like I'm repeating myself...which is probably a good thing since it brings me to the reminder that many of the fine motor games/toys/activities we have available often benefit multiple eye-hand coordination, hand strengthening and so on.

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