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       Plano Independent School District

Teacher Tips

Posture and Stability
  • Look at correct sitting posture and appropriate chair and tableheights. A child’s feet should be flat on the floor and the desktop should be 2 inches above the bent elbow.
  • Use the 90 - 90 - 90 rule. Ankles, hips, and knees should be bent to a 90-degree angle for appropriate sitting posture.
  • If table is too high, elbows will be up and out to sides. If table is too low, the child will slump in their chair or rest their head ontheir hand.
  • Use footstool to support feet if the child’s feet do not rest flat onthe floor. Allow students to work in various positions other than seated (standing at a vertical surface, lying on the floor propped onelbows). Do warm-up activities to provide kinesthetic input to large and small muscles groups.
    • Jumping jacks
    • Dancing Finger songs
    • Simon Says at a quick pace
    • Donkey kicks or animal walks
Vertical Surfaces
  • Working on a vertical surface promotes the wrist extension and shoulder stability necessary for control of the fine movements involved in writing.
  • When working on a vertical surface, paper or work should be positioned just above eye level.
  • Examples of ways to incorporate vertical surfaces into your classroom:
    • Let the children write/draw on easels, white boards and/or chalkboards.
    • Desktop slant boards can be used for individual work at the desk.
    • You can also place a 4-5 inch empty 3-ring binder on the desk for incline. Position the binder with the rings toward the top of the desk and the slant toward the child. Then rotate the binder to a 45-degree angle. Consult with your occupational therapist on any questions you may have.
    • Have your students draw or write on paper taped to the wall.
    For younger students:
  • Place a Magna Doodle in a vertical position so theeraser side is at the top.
  • When using pegboards, mount them to the wall with Velcro just above eye level.
  • Use magnetic letters/shapes on the chalkboard or side of a metal cabinet.
Pencil Grasp
There are two types of grasps: efficient and inefficient.
  • An efficient grasp the pencil is held between the pads of the thumb and index finger while resting on the middle finger. An acceptable variation of this is when the pencil is held between the pads of the thumb and index/middle fingers while resting on the ring finger. If a child is using an efficient grasp, their thumb and index finger should form a circular shape.

  • An inefficient grasp can include any of the following: fisted grasp, pencil held between the pads of the thumb and all four fingers,thumb wrapped over the top of the index and middle fingers, thumb tucked under the index finger, the hand held in a thumbdown position, index and middle fingers wrapped around thepencil, or thumb pressing the pencil into the side of the indexfinger (thumb and index do not form a circular shape).
See Quick Fixes for ideas on ways to promote an efficient pencil grasp.
Paper Slant
To best align paper, have student clasp hands in front of him/her and lay them on the desk. Their arms and bottom edge of desktop should form a triangle. The paper should be aligned parallel to thearm of the dominant hand. The paper should be at an approximate 45-degree angle.

The non-dominant hand should be used at all times to stabilize the paper.
Kinesthetic Learning
The following are various methods used to facilitate learning of proper letter, number and shape formation.
  • Air writing (visual/kinesthesia) - draw shapes or write letters with large arm movements with and without vision.
  • Mystery writing (visual/kinesthesia) - the teacher or peer moves the student’s hand to form shapes or letters on blackboard or in the air and student guesses what was drawn.
  • Rainbow writing (motor memory/visual) - trace over shapes/letters or numbers several times with different colors (crayons/markers on paper or chalk on board)
  • Tactile writing (proprioceptive/tactile/kinesthesia) - trace shapes, letters, or numbers on carpet square, sandpaper, shaving cream, window screens, foil, finger paints, sand, pudding, Cool Whip, etc.
  • Vibrating pen (proprioceptive/kinesthesia) - practice shapes or letters while getting good sensory feedback.
  • Constructional writing proprioceptive/kinesthesia/tactile) - construct basic lines/shapes on a color board or flannel board using Wikki Stix, play dough, pre-cut flannel pieces, etc.
  • Use plant sprayer to spray water on the side of a building or on the sidewalk to practice drawing shapes, letters, and numbers.
Quick Fixes
  • Use triangular pencil grips on pencils to teach and practice correct finger placement.
  • Have student hold a novelty eraser tucked under the ring and little fingers while writing, cutting, drawing or using manipulatives. Thispromotes the use of the thumb, middle and index finger for skilledmovement and the ring and little fingers to support the hand.
  • Sharpen or break pencils and crayons down to about 2 inches in length to encourage efficient pencil grasp and better control of the pencil.
  • Use masking tape outline on the desktop to indicate how paper should be slanted.
  • If the student writes with too much pressure on the pencil, have him/her write with a 0.5 lead mechanical pencil and/or have him/her write with their paper on craft foam or placemat.
  • If a student is not using enough pressure, try ebony pencils or fine tip markers.

  • These techniques will teach a student how to vary the pressure used on the pencil to avoid breaking the lead or putting holes in the paper

  • If a student writes with a “hooked wrist”, have them do written work on a vertical surface just above eye level. Back to Top

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