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.