26 Feb 2014

Letter Games and More

I was responding to an American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) school list-serv about a child who seems to always add an extra fourth line to the "E" for many possible reasons. I responded with a suggestion and then just kept going, because that’s how I roll, yo!!! I’m slightly editing but just to make it not so personalized as I don’t have a lot of time to mess around with it. I’m hoping to eventually break this up into multiple blogs with pictures, but for now, time wise, just have to get it on the blog. Sometime in middle March I’ll be able to get more of this blog in order!!

1. AN OVERLY ENTHUSIASTIC "E": For an E with too many lines, maybe try having four cool writing utensils that each get to do one line. You keep charge of them so they aren’t lying around. "Each of these pens gets to have a turn at a line so that its fair." Then give one color for spine, then a new one for line 1, another line 2, another line 3. He may actually stop at line 3 when each pen has had a turn at a line with a specific color/utensil for each and he’s not handed a fourth. If you don’t have tons of cool pens around, maybe just switch out a pen, pencil, marker, and crayon (end with his least preferred so he’s less likely to add an extra line), or highlighters or pen colors or whatever. (When I say cool pen, I’m thinking of weird-stick-looking pens, giant pens, baby sized pens, oddly colored pens, etc).

2. TRACING While I prefer imitation, if you do need/want to do some tracing: Letting the child be a teacher for turn-taking can help. For example, you as the teacher, using those large box grids, and you can use the yellow highlighter to write "A" and then he traces with pencil or pen. Then HE writes with highlighter (and maybe gets to choose which color highlighter) and then YOU have to trace his. As long as the letter is carefully done (ie clear effort) even if not correctly formed, just go with it for the time being as the tracer, if you’re trying to build activity tolerance most of all.

3. POWER OF COOL PEN: Some of my kids will write a LOT more when they get to use a cool pen of some sort versus normal pencil. Sometimes getting to use a normal pen versus a pencil is such a novelty that that in itself will get a child to start working. Once I had a kid where writing JUST his name was like pulling teeth. Then I brought in like 10 super weird pens and he wrote his name 10 times without me even prompting, I had just hoped he’d try a single letter with each pen.

4. SIGN-INS/OUTS: For some of my kids, I sometimes have them "sign in" on the grid paper, focusing on each letter being perfect. We make sure I sign in on their sheet too. Or just our initials. (For kids that elope, sometimes I strategically put a little desk in such a way that while they can technically still get out, it will take an extra step or extra dodge so there is a little bit of extra time to intervene. Not to point of fire safety issue of course! That desk is the "sign out" where they have to do their initials or ideally full name, to leave at the end of the session. I also really like some of the older ones having to copy or compose an affirmation of some sort such as "I am powerful." under their sign-in.)

5. "Letter Doctor" – I have a really simplistic barren Sharpie-letter game on a piece of corkboard. It’s just a path of alphabet letters and each person has a push pin as a game piece. You roll dice and whatever letter you land on, your pushpin gives the sick letter a "shot" (with the pushpin) and then you make it better by writing the letter out neatly. Or something like take out all the letter pieces of a puzzle, put on floor, and be like "Oh no they all fell down, which one can we help first? Don’t worry Mr A, we can help you, we’re letter doctors. Here, we’ll make you a little "A" bed." – Draw the letter, place letter on it. Etc. Whatever. Even my children with autism (high-functioning) like being doctors. I treat all letters like little people. Letter piece falls off table? "Hey Mr A! Don’t jump like that! We’re trying to work with you here!" etc. 🙂 Drama, drama, drama.

6. IMAGINATION LETTERS – I love using letters for imagination and silliness – just add a "Mister" or something in front of the letter and you can use them for a lot of your "games" as characters…essentially any motor skill can incorporate these silly letters. Let me know if you’re interested via e-mail or comment or whatever and I will add in more. Again, hope to break down these blog posts into multiples with pictures, soon, versus one long eyebally-painful one.

Category: Occupational Therapy | Comments: none

21 Feb 2014

Rambling Secrets and Twitter

The title is actually not true. But the compulsive part of me wanted the title to go RST. And it did. So there.

Moving on.
SECRETS: A secret to share next week…check back by the end of next week…it’s exciting…well mostly to me. AHHAHAAHA. But I will give details as to how MAYBE it’s exciting to you too!

TWITTER: I’ve been tweeting a lot at www.twitter.com/msawesomenessOT although I’m re-building up followers as I’ve been at www.twitter.com/funkist for years.

My web designer and graphic designer have been helping me get this website and brand on track. The logo is about to change slightly and the website is continuously being tweaked while in its "emerging" stages.


Category: Occupational Therapy | Comments: none

10 Feb 2014

The Love Potato: A Unique Valentine's Day Craft Activity


The Love Potato

The “love potato” is an awesomely “delightfully awkward” Valentine’s Day Craft that kids and parents alike think is hysterical and definitely unique.  The front of the card is a potato with googley eyes all over it, and inside it says “Dear X, I have eyes only for you. Be My Valentine? Love, Kid”.

The “Love Potato” Valentine’s Day Craft Activity

Supplies: construction paper, googley eyeballs, writing/drawing utensils, scissors, glue, pipe cleaners or other item for arms/legs, imagination


Choose color of card paper. Fold the paper in half to make the card.

Open card to do message first. Copy or compose the message, making sure to include “I have eyes only for you.” within it.

Draw a potato on a separate piece of brown construction paper. Cut out potato. Glue potato to front of card, in the middle. Add adhesive googley eyeballs to it (dollar store).

Carefully cut pipe cleaners [best by adult] for arms and legs, or use construction paper, crayons, anything else to add in arms/legs. Glue arms and legs of whatever material onto the potato.

Give to cherished person. Smile.

TO GRADE ACTIVITY (change difficulty level) depending on child’s strengths/weaknesses:

Harder: Show finished product, have child determine sequence of steps (folding/cutting/gluing etc)
Easier: Have a finished product to show, but then do the task step by step with the child, so that task is broken down and child is given sequence.


Following Directions:
Harder: Have no supplies out besides finished product, have kids gather necessary supplies, ideally ones out of sight that require some instruction to find. Provide child  minimal instruction and give more than 2 (ideally 3-4) instructions at a time.
Easier: Provide all or most supplies or have easily accessible. Give no more than 1-2 step directions at a time.

Harder: Have child perform folding task independently
Easier: Demonstrate how to match corners, and/or perform for child.

Harder: Have child make own lines with ruler, and compose without verbal or visual cues. Or have child copy information off board.
Easier: Have written model of desired writing, at “near-point” meaning right in front of the child, for child to copy.

Harder: Thinner potato lines to cut out, or have child cut out arms and legs as well.
Easier: Thicker potato lines, higher-contrast.

Harder: Liquid glue (hard to regulate pressure/squeeze hard enough).
Easier: Ideally a colored glue stick. Ensure child is adding to glue to back of potato, not to card front.

Eyeballs (educate that potatoes have “eyes”)
Harder: Have child pull off own eyeballs, especially smaller ones. If you don’t have the adhesive kinds, putting glue on the eyeballs is hard/good practice. If adhesive, taking the tiny paper off back can be challenging.
Easier: Provide eyeballs off chart, or use larger eyeballs.

Be silly! Kids think this is so funny.

SKILLS worked on with Love Potato activity:

  • Cutting
  • Gluing
  • Folding
  • Following directions
  • Composing and/or copying writing
  • Fine motor manipulation (googley eyeballs plus typical manipulation)
  • Imagination/creativity/flexibility
  • Cognition/Problem-solving including sequencing and following directions


7 Feb 2014

Visual cuing for every other line – E-Z Edit






I love E-Z edit paper of www.barkercreek.com. Although I don’t use it for editing so much as a great visual cue for skipping every other line. Most of our children who MOST need to skip lines are the least likely to know how to do so and so this type of visual cue is awesome.

Category: Occupational Therapy | Comments: none

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