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Educreations

Thursday, June 19th, 2014

 

educreations

Professional athletes, international speakers and anyone who wants to improve performance has access to video critiquing, a highly effective tool for self-improvement. The users film themselves either at practice or when performing live, and then watch the video, either by themselves or with others, to analyze and fine tune their performance. Are they throwing the correctly? Are they speaking clearly and slowly? They may make small critical changes, or perhaps catch a fundamental error and completely change their approach.

This is similar to learning handwriting. People who are kinesthetic learners learn by doing. By this I mean, they practice writing a number of times on a firm or textured surface, their muscles receive the feedback of how letters should be formed, and they can learn to form their letters properly. Other individuals may be visual or auditory learners. They learn best by watching a demonstration and following directions. Most people benefit from both. That’s why using multiple modalities is an effective way to teach children.

What does this have to do with video critiquing? I’m glad you asked! Educreations is free app from the iTunes store that I have been using effectively in my occupational therapy (OT) practice.

educreatorslogo

The app consists of an interactive whiteboard that let’s you record what you draw, and records your voice as well. It was designed as a teaching tool so that an educator can record a lesson, and then email or post it to the web to share with an online community.

educreations-gallery

 

For OT purposes you can have children draw a letter while dictating the steps of how to form it. For example if they are learning the letter ‘B’, while they are drawing they can use the Handwriting Without Tears language: “Start at the top, draw a straight line down, frog jump to the top, little curve to the middle, little curve to the bottom”. When they are done drawing\recording you can save the lesson. Once it has been saved they can play it back, and watch and listen to how they wrote the letter.

Kids love doing this. They see the letter being formed and hear their own voice. It is a very powerful strategy for all those visual and auditory learners we spoke about before. They can see how it was done and spot any mistakes they may have made.

The app itself has some rich features to keep things interesting. You can choose to write in various colors, you can type letters, and you can even add pictures to the lesson either by taking a picture or downloading one from the web.

Using pictures is a great feature because:

  • You can take a picture of the handwriting worksheet you are using, and use it as a template to trace over as they are doing the lesson.
  • Children can take a picture of themselves and use it as the background to write on.
  • Another way to use a picture of oneself is to have the child draw on the picture. Can they draw a hat on top of their head? How about boots on their feet. Maybe have them draw a balloon or animal behind them. This is a great way to teach directionality, which is a foundation for learning how to form letters.
  • There is also an option to resize the picture. So, take a full body picture of your child, size it so it takes up half of the screen, and then have them draw a picture of themselves on the white space. In this way you are having them practice body parts as well as body awareness, which is another foundational skill for letter formation.

For a free app this has a lot of wonderful features that can be utilized in many ways. So, how are you going to use this app? Please post your comments below, and any suggestions on apps you would like to see reviewed or have questions about.

If you have any other questions I can be reached at gershon@potsot.com

 

This entry was posted on Thursday, June 19th, 2014 and is filed under Fine Motor Fun, Handwriting & Fine Motor Coordination, The Special Needs Child, What's App Wednesday.

Can’t draw? Create funky animals on the Drawnimal App

Thursday, May 29th, 2014

There’s a TV show I enjoy watching on the Discovery channel called “Dual Survival”. On the show they take two survival experts and drop them off in a barren area. There  they rely on their knowledge of the land to survive and find civilization. If they were to deposit me in the same area, I would look around and see trees, dirt, rocks, insects etc. These experts see ways to make shelter, fashion weapons, gather food, and most importantly, make fire. Essentially, the survival experts are doing a “task analysis” of their situation, quickly envisioning the possibilities that the found materials afford them. While I may be at a loss to analyze a survival situation, as an OT I am continually doing a task analysis of all the equipment that I have, and what each item affords me when I work with a child. This is true in the world of Apps. One person may look at an App and see a game, but I look at it and see a therapeutic tool to facilitate learning and development.

drawnimal_logo

One App I recently discovered is Drawnimal (available on the itunes App store). As stated on itunes, this app teaches kids to think out of the box. How does it work? First place your device on a sheet of paper. When you launch the app you are shown a letter. Under that is a representation of the ipad\iphone. There are then cues to draw various shapes around the ipad.

drawnimal_howitworks

For example, you may be prompted to draw the tail of an alligator, the ears of a bear, or the fins of a dolphin. Most are pretty basic shapes, but some younger kids may need more help from a parent. When you finish drawing, click “play” and the animal appears on the screen to completes the picture you drew! Finally when you tap on the animal, it does some funky action that will make you laugh, and motivate kids to play again and again.

First of all I love this App because it is gets you to pick up a pen\marker\pencil and draw, to work on pencil grasp. Next , it is a great exercise in visual perceptual skills, as well as directionality. Do I draw it on the left, right, top, bottom? In addition, it provides practice in sequencing and spatial relations. Where do I start? How far up the side? How far apart should the ears be? These are all developmental skills that are precursors to letter formation. What a great tool to use to encourage kids to practice their (pre-) handwriting! While the app does not ask the child to form letters, but you can encourage your kids to do that. Perhaps, before they move on to the next animal, have them write the first letter of the animal they just saw. If they are learning a specific handwriting technique, such as Handwriting without Tears, have them practice the letter formation that reinforces proper technique. You can encourage older children to write the whole word. They will be having so much fun they won’t even realize they are practicing their handwriting.

As you use the app repeatedly, change it up and make it more interesting by having the children add more body parts. If the app just asks you to draw the ears, suggest that your kids draw arms, legs, and tails. Get creative, draw the bear holding a jar of honey, and then have your kids write a sentence, paragraph or story about how he acquired it. Maybe the bear met the survivalists, scared them off, and stole the honey from their packs.

Ejemplos-Drawnimal

As you can analyze this app there are so many possibilities for strengthening skills  here, drawing lines and shapes, visual perceptual skills, sequencing, directionality, letter recognition, and handwriting. All from a simple game  .So, the next time you discover a new app, look at it more critically ,analyse the task requirements and you may find  more ther than meets the eye initially.I if you are working with an OT ask them what possibilities your child’s favorite  of the apps afford.

As always, if you want to contact me about any apps I can be reached at gershon@postot.com

This entry was posted on Thursday, May 29th, 2014 and is filed under Fine Motor Fun, Handwriting & Fine Motor Coordination, What's App Wednesday.

Our new favorite pre-writing App is “Ready to Print”

Friday, May 16th, 2014

readytoprint

 

In the ever changing, fluid world of apps, it is challenging to keep up with all the new innovations that are taking place daily, if not hourly. The same holds true for apps that are used by occupational therapists to boost handwriting, fine motor control, visual perception, sensory regulation, and organization. In this space I will present those apps that I have used and found beneficial and worthwhile to utilize during therapy sessions, and at home.

Ready_to_print_app

I have recently discovered and am impressed with ‘Ready to Print’.  As indicated on the app’s web page, “Ready to Print is a pre-writing app that was developed by an occupational therapist with more than 20 years of experience working with children.” It was designed to help children progresses through pre-writing skills in a developmentally appropriate order, so that they can master the skills necessary for writing.

Ready_to_print_app

As you can see from the screenshot, the app is divided into eight categories that progressively build upon the developmental skills required for pre-writing and handwriting.  The first two games, Touch and Ordered Touch, focus on finger individuation and sequencing, requiring the child to touch in the order that will be required when beginning to form letters.

Matching. In this activity the child matches basic shapes. Like all the other activities it can be easily customised to match the child’s skill level by changing how many items have to be matched, as well as the size of the shapes. This activity facilitates visual tracking, scanning, and visual motor skills, all of which are required when learning how to write and recognize letters.

The next two games, Paths and Shapes, have the child trace a line or shape within set boundaries. They both tap into visual tracking and visual fine motor skills. As children progress and refine their skills, the width of the paths can be adjusted.

In Connect the Dots the child is asked to draw one of ten different shapes, from simple to more complex. The app encourages proper formation of the shapes , which will eventually carryover into good practice habits when learning to write letters.

The Pinching game sharpens fine motor skills. The ability to pinch is helpful when developing a grasp for any writing implement. Two objects are presented which the child has to bring together using his/her thumb and any other finger on the preferred hand. The spacing between the objects can be adjusted for various hand sizes.

Having progressed through all the other developmental levels, we finally arrive at  Letters, where children learn and practice letter formation. In this section the child is asked to copy letters first by following prompts on the right side of the screen, and then immediately practice freehand in a blank space on the left side of the screen. This is a wonderful feature missing from most other handwriting apps that I have used. This section allows you to work on capitals, lowercase letters, numbers, or a combination of upper and lower case letters.

Finally there is a section for free drawing that encourages creative and artistic expression with a variety of colors to choose from.

Overall, this is a marvelous app that is rich in many different areas. It provides a child  with the developmental activities required to build up underlying skills to support handwriting, as well as an opportunity to learn and practice handwriting in a fun way, all in one app. While no app should be a substitute for using a marker, crayon, chalk, pencil, or pen to write, this app is good to add on your tablet, to be used with a finger or a stylus (higher level). The ability to customize each level to match each child’s progress is a winning feature. I encourage you to log on and create a user account so you can track your children’s progress.

This app is available on Apple’s app store, Google Play, and for the Kindle fire.
I look forward to your feedback.  Feel free to contact me at gershon@potsot.com

This entry was posted on Friday, May 16th, 2014 and is filed under Fine Motor Fun, Handwriting & Fine Motor Coordination, What's App Wednesday.

5 Basic FAQ’s About Dyslexia

Sunday, April 20th, 2014

dyslexiaweb

“Teach handwriting. Technology is great but it doesn’t engage the early reading brain in the same positive way as learning to move the pen across the page…” suggest dyslexia expert Dr. J. Richard Gentry. Click here to get the latest updates on dyslexia in young children

This entry was posted on Sunday, April 20th, 2014 and is filed under Getting Ready for School, Handwriting & Fine Motor Coordination, Parenting.

Why Occupational Therapists Love Slant Boards and instructions for DIY slant board

Monday, April 14th, 2014

slantboard

When it comes to motor skills and handwriting, positioning is everything! Writing on a vertical or inclined surface will naturally place your child’s hand in an ideal position for a more secure and mature grasp, and better pressure regulation, not too hard and not too soft. The inclined position pulls the wrist into extension and places the hand in a biomechanically advantageous position with the wrist extended (bent back).

If your child is standing, affix the paper to an easel, tape it to the wall, or stick it on the refrigerator (if yours is still magnetic), slightly above eye level. If your child is seated, place the paper on a slant board (www.therapyshoppe.com or make your own, below).

 

slantboard

Material:

2-inch to 6-inch binder (can use 2 binders as well)

Clipboard

Duct tape

Glue

 

 

Directions:

When using 2 binders, stack the binders one on top of the other. Attach the two adjacent sides with duct tape. Make sure they are secure.

2binders

Attach the clipboard to the top of the binder using duct tape or glue. If the binder has a plastic sleeve, slide the clipboard into the sleeve. (See to picture 2)

clipboard on binder

The slant board can also be used for reading, and other seated activities in order to decrease neck flexion while promoting increased wrist extension.

Credit for the DIY goes to our former student Sarah Small, OTS. Thanks Sarah!

This entry was posted on Monday, April 14th, 2014 and is filed under Handwriting & Fine Motor Coordination.

10 REASONS WHY HANDWRITING IS IMPORTANT IN THE AGE OF COMPUTERS

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

1. Kids are JUDGED by what they write, not their scintillating verbal skills

girl-writing

2. In grading, teachers are swayed by the way information is presented on the paper

3. 25%-65% of a child’s school day is spent WRITING, compared with 15-22% of the day using technology

graphic

4. Good, automatic handwriting lightens the cognitive load so students can focus on content

5. Relationship between handwriting and academic achievement


6. Relationship between handwriting and letter recognition

7. Learning handwriting explicitly improves reading

kids-reading-book
8. Learning writing improves spelling

9. Middle schoolers produce a first draft more quickly and efficiently by writing, young adults can produce a quicker fast draft by keyboarding

10. Handwriting has been demonstrated to train the brain (check out amazing facts about writing and your brain)

Blog written by: Dr. Chaye Lamm Warburg, DPS, OTR/L

This entry was posted on Wednesday, March 19th, 2014 and is filed under Handwriting & Fine Motor Coordination.

POTS Fine Motor Infographic

Thursday, January 9th, 2014

Our first infographic!

A synopsis of fine motor development.

synopsisoffinedevelopment_v2

 

Enjoy!

Click here for a printable-version

This entry was posted on Thursday, January 9th, 2014 and is filed under Fine Motor Fun, Handwriting & Fine Motor Coordination, Parenting, Uncategorized.

Fred iCreate Stylus

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013

At POTS we use the Fred iCreate Stylus to help kids on the autistic spectrum with fine motor difficulties to write on the iPad. We are having amazing success with this tool! Something about it must be non-threatening and motivating, because children who typically avoid crayons and markers are jumping at the opportunity to use the iCreate.

 

 

 

Here is why we love it:

  • It is motivating and FUN! Kids love to use it
  • The friendly black lines “tell” your child exactly where to hold the stylus for that essential tripod grasp
  • The rubbery tip provides just the right amount of friction to remind kids to put the breaks on and end the letter at the appropriate place

icreate_lr1

Some Friendly Tips:

  • Children who struggle with fine motor skills may prefer to use their finger to draw on the iPad. To encourage use of the Fred iCreate Stylus, make sure to designate certain (very fun) apps that may only be used with the stylus.
  • When to provide a B R E A K:
    • As with a regular crayon, go for quality over quantity. If you see the quality of grasp, writing or drawing deteriorate, take a break
    • When a goal is spontaneously assuming (versus sustaining) an appropriate grasp, find reasons to take frequent breaks. This gives your child the opportunity to practice assuming a grasp over and over again
    • I like to build breaks into the activity. For example, when playing trace & erase on the Dexteria Junior app, have your child draw lines through paths with the iCreate stylus, and let him/her erase with a finger

IMG_0376

http://fredandfriends.com/products/view/icreate-crayon-stylus

This entry was posted on Tuesday, December 10th, 2013 and is filed under Autism, Handwriting & Fine Motor Coordination, POTS Favorite Toy Ideas, What's App Wednesday.

The Many Wonders And Benefits of LOOMING

Tuesday, November 5th, 2013

Creating jewelry out of multi-color rubber bands is all the rage. From preschoolers to tweens and teenagers, this activity is widely appealing. I have seen kids use the loom, or even make their designs using their hands.

I love this activity as a mom and as an occupational therapist. As a mom, I appreciate that making these bracelets is portable, inexpensive, captivates my children’s (ages 4 and 6) attention for lengthy periods of time, and appeals to both boys and girls.

As an occupational therapist, making rubber band jewelry is a captivating, motivating fine motor activity that supports the development of manual dexterity. It requires both hands to work together, making it an excellent way to promote bilateral coordination.

Additionally, while younger children and novices can make simple bright designs, it continues to intrigue older children and experts with its versatility, offering a wide variety of designs and patterns with increasing complexity. Many children learn new patterns by watching videos online. This requires children to translate what they detect with their visual and auditory systems and make tangible replicas of what they view. Here’s one of my favorite beginner online “manuals” and 3 sets of directions for projects from Joanne.com

Socially, children are using their loom designs as a medium for sharing and trading. In an age where so many children are often glued to screens and plugged into devices, the rubber band jewelry is a breath of fresh air.

I, for one, hope that this fad is here to stay!

Blog written by: Aviva Goldwasser, MS, OTR/L

This entry was posted on Tuesday, November 5th, 2013 and is filed under Fine Motor Fun, Handwriting & Fine Motor Coordination.

DIY DUCT TAPE TRICK OR TREAT BAG

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013

BagDisplay

Halloween is coming and we cannot wait to share our latest ductagami project with you!

Below are instructions for a duct tape trick or treat bag. Enjoy!

1. Buy or pull out from your stash a small, approximately 4” x 4” X 2 ½ shopping bag. Any size will do, but the smaller, the easier and quicker the process will be. A smaller bag will also limit the amount of candy your child can stuff in.

Bag1

2. Carefully slit open the bag on the bottom and along the side seam. Try not to rip the bag, although everything can be repaired (it’s duct tape, after all)

Bag2 Bag3 Bag4

*Note: The orange side is the outside and the buff side is the inside

3. With the orange side up (right side), tuck the bottom panel under to avoid duct taping it.  Cut 3 pieces of purple spider tape the length of the bag, and place so that they are overlapping slightly, at least ¼ “

Bag7 Bag8 Bag10

4. Tuck the bottom fold onto the purple tape, so it also does not get covered yet. Cut about 8 pieces of black and white check duct tape the length of the bag. Place them overlapping about ¼” so that the inside of the bag is completely covered.

Bag11 Bag12 Bag13

5. Crease on the bags original folds.

6. Place a piece tape on the inside (black and white check) with the sticky side facing up, so that when the bag if refolded into a circle it is sealed from the inside.

Bag14 Bag15

7. Next, place a vertical piece of tape to seal it from the purple side.

Bag16

8. Refold the bottom of the bag along its creases. Place pieces of scotch tape to hold it in place temporarily on the outside and the inside. Use 1-2 pieces of tape to cover the bottom of the bag from the outside

Bag17

9. Cut out a 2 ½” x 4” piece of card-stock (I used an invitation) and cover with Duct tape. Fit into the inside of the bag.Bag19 Insideofbag

 

HAPPY TRICK OR TREATING!

This entry was posted on Tuesday, October 15th, 2013 and is filed under Ductagami, Fine Motor Fun, Handwriting & Fine Motor Coordination, Seasonal Tips.