Quiet Mouths, Loud Hands: How Classroom Teachers Can Quickly, Quietly, And Effectively Use Line Time

Teachers constantly (rightly) bemoan the lack of time to get everything done within a day. Kids spend a lot of time in line waiting on transitions and this is a perfect opportunity for teachers to work on fine motor skills with their kids and incorporate academic practice at the same time. Many children, not just those in special education, benefit from familiarizing themselves with their hands and how to consciously move their hands in a variety of positions which can end up really helping with handwriting.
Here are a few easy and quick ideas on ways to use line time as a learning opportunity, both with fine motor skills and academic skills. It will also keep them occupied and therefore quieter. 🙂 
1. TEACH YOUR CHILDREN THE SIGN LANGUAGE ALPHABET. You can start as early as you want although of course it may be challenging for the very young. There are tons of sites that show it, including Youtube. http://lifeprint.com/asl101/topics/wallpaper1.htm is an example of the alphabet. Even if you just do a few letters a day in line, the very act of them having to use their hands to copy yours is a great exercise. As you and the children become more proficient, you can begin to do your spelling words, ie everyone do what I do, c, a, t….Or “Everyone show me how to spell cat” etc. Of course you have to talk at first as you teach them, but eventually you should be able to do most of this very quietly. And whether you ever get to the point of using it for spelling or not, they are getting familiar with isolating their fingers on command in a variety of positions. You can also of course incorporate disability awareness into this. 🙂 
2. DO MATH IN LINE. You can quietly ask things like Two plus two equals What, Class, Show me with your fingers…And they all hold up their 4 fingers. If you really want to get ambitious you can teach them how to count to ten using just one hand in American Sign Language because 6, 7, 8, and 9 are great ones to work on finger opposition. I always found it very convenient to know how to count to 10 on each hand because when refereeing fencing matches it was the only way I could remember the score was to hold it in place on both hands. You can also ask them science-like questions or logic questions, such as, “How long do you think it will take to do X? Show me with your fingers how many minutes” or “Do you think A will happen or B will happen? Put 1 finger in the air if you choose A, and 2 fingers if you choose B…”
3. THUMB TO FINGER TOUCHES. If you aren't interested in learning or teaching the American Sign Language alphabet and numbers (but it's really awesome so I hope you do), you can just have the children work on touching their fingers to their thumb one at a time, ie everybody hold your hand in the air, touch your finger to your thumb, now next finger, next finger…Copy what I do, etc. You will be surprised at how hard it is for many of them. They may have to look and go hesitantly. As you keep practicing it should get easier and then you can up the ante…Both hands at once, doing it with eyes closed, faster, etc. 
4. SILLY FINGER MOVES. You can have them show you thumbs-up, the OKay sign, spirit hands (wiggling their hands), wrist circles, fingers opening and closing, putting on their “gloves” (by squeezing down each finger with the other hand), pressing their hands together, making individual fingers do bows (watch out for that middle finger, lol), “show me your thumb”, “show me your pinkie”, etc etc. Any movements that focus on a nice round open webspace (that space between the thumb and index finger, when you make the OK sign), are especially great. One teacher told me her kids had trouble with making a nice round O so she had them pretend to put on glasses. Great idea.
In conclusion, while there is definitely an initial learning curve, you can focus on “Quiet Mouths, Loud Hands” during line time to work on building and practicing academic skills in a quiet way, as well as improving fine motor skills, which often translates to improved handwriting skills and increases in confidence in their ability to navigate their world. 
Oct 11, 2012 | Category: Occupational Therapy | Comments: none

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