Now that summer is here, most families are spending lots of times outdoors. While working on academic skills throughout the summer is important, there are lots of ways to build them into outdoor fun time.
Handwriting is one of the skills that families tend to stress about throughout the summer. Often, handwriting is a non-preferred activity and therefore, most children are not jumping at the chance to practice. The good news is, there are so many activities, especially ones that can be done outdoors – that will help to develop all of the intrinsic muscles of the hand which in turn directly helps with handwriting skills.
Handwriting is a complex skill that requires many different components ranging from fine motor skills, visual perceptual skills, as well as visual motor coordination. When playing outdoors, here are three of our favorite suggestions that will help target the muscles and joints that are utilized in order for a child to become proficient at handwriting.
1) Sensory Play
Sensory bins (rice, water beads, sand, shaving cream, etc.) you name it – it works in great developmental skills related to handwriting. Giving children tools such as tweezers, tongs, cups, spoons, straws, etc. to manipulate as they explore sensory bins with encourage them to utilize the movements required in writing, as well as strengthen the muscles in the hands and fingers.
2) Squeeze Bottles
Spray bottles are a great tool to incorporate into gardening play (spray flowers and plants), as well as in chalk play! Have the kiddos use the spray bottles to erase the chalk. Spray bottles can often be found in varying sizes and resistances so you may have to do some playing around the find the just right challenge for your child’s hands. Squeezing and releasing the bottles are a great way to strengthen the hand muscles which in turn will help build the endurance needed when writing.
3) Ball play
Any type of gross motor ball play will also encourage the use of all of the coordinated skills in the hands and fingers. In addition, it encourages a ton of visual-motor coordination which is also a vital piece of handwriting (pencil paper work).
A fun way to encourage all three activities together is to write letters on an outdoor wall with chalk, hide the squeeze bottle in a sensory bin so that they have to first find the bottle, then walk up to the wall (call out a letter), and squeeze the bottle to erase. All of these activities can be turned into a multitude of “fine and visual motor obstacle course,” which is our favorite thing to do outdoors.
Hours of fun to keep your kids entertained, and you can rest assure that they are indeed making lots of progress toward their underlying skills which will directly help them when they return to school and are required to do more paper/pencil work!
I received a game in exchange for this blog post but the opinions are my own.
Lina Awshee is a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant with a background as a Pediatric Vision Therapist. Currently, Lina is practicing in the school systems where she works with students of all ages. When she isn’t working, Lina enjoys sharing purposeful ways to include skill development into daily playtime. You can find fun suggestions by following her on Instagram @motormommy.co.
A note from ThinkFun
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