I have been a school-based COTA for the past 20 years and have long enjoyed my calling to the profession. Occupational Therapy (OT) has provided me the opportunity to engage, empower, and enable children to reach their maximum potential in their many occupations. Many of my therapy kiddos have goals that directly impact their written communication in the classroom. In my 20 years, I have used the Get Set for School® and Handwriting Without Tears® programs for nearly as long. The developmental design of the programs coupled with the multi-sensory and play-based instruction give me a unique therapeutic approach with kids. I even taught my own children with these programs!
I continue to find the programs even more effective for teaching children letter formation and handwriting mechanics. Younger kiddos are thoroughly enticed and eager to engage in the use of the hands-on materials. Older kiddos find the simplicity of the program keeps formation and mechanics easier to learn and fun to demonstrate. My experiences include kiddos looking forward to handwriting time, easier recall of letter start points, strokes and placement, proficiency with letter forms and mechanics, improved overall legibility, easier transfer from hands-on learning to paper and pencil, and quicker confidence is achieved with less frustration demonstrated while learning.
The teachers and parents like the simplicity and easy implementation, which makes supporting children with handwriting challenges easier during writing times and classroom writing centers. The programs are user- and instructor-friendly with handson materials further developing necessary hand skills. The programs are simple to implement, simple to use, and simple to share which facilitates more positive outcomes.
Although my love for the programs has long endured, I find there are some particular materials I seem to use more during therapy as they promote engagement and generate enthusiasm while also facilitating the learning experience in what could be a rather frustrating task. Some of my favorites include:
- Roll-A-Dough Letters®
- Wood Pieces Set for Capital Letters and Capital Letter Cards for Wood Pieces – Laminated
- Gray Block Paper and student editions
- A-B-C Touch & Flip® Cards
- FLIP Crayons® and Pencils for Little Hands
LWT has graciously allowed me to share how I have creatively expanded the use of some of these tools to keep learning fresh while staying within the goal of the programs to remain developmentally appropriate, play-based, and multisensory. After all, OT is rooted in adaptation and creativity and the beauty of engaging clients with activities that are meaningful and meet them where they are in treatment. So, my OT month gift to you are some simple tips and tricks that I have found effective and engaging:
- Sticky sticks on laminated Roll-A-Dough Letters® cards
- Hanging the ABC or 1-2-3 Touch & Flip® Cards on a clothesline with clothespins
- Add beads, buttons, or googly eyes to Roll-A-Dough Letters® on letter cards
- Add sand, flour, chocolate mix, etc. to Roll-A-Dough Letters® trays
- Place plastic canvas on top of the ABC or 1-2-3 Touch & Flip® Cards for finger tracing
- Craft stick or cardboard letter frames for student edition and paper/pencil practice
Show how you implement Learning Without Tears in your classroom and join the Handwriting Without Tears Lessons in Action contest! Happy OT Month Occupational Therapy Practitioners!!!