Getting small hands ready for school

Last year I went to a Hand Writing Without Tears workshop. It was an eye opening experience. They stressed out the importance of such things as crawling; coloring, using easels, playing with clay and blocks - because all of these activities help to develop hand muscles that will be important when it's time to get a pencil and start writing.

The program, created and widely used by OTs, has materials to help teach the child proper pencil grip, posture, proper letter formation and left to right order. This is not at all a Language Arts course, the goal of the program is to help children write correctly and fast.  Did you know that improper letter formation can lead to a lower speed of writing and improper pencil grip can lead to achy hands? And slow speed and hand pain can lower your child's performance in middle and high school.

I would recommend their teachers book to everyone, especially if you are homeschooling. The materials are great for school or homeschool use, but they are not specifically geared towards parents and home use. For more information, visit and please do recommend them to your child's teacher.

Grasshopper® kits on the other hand were designed for home use. They were created by Rachel Rudman, an OT with an advanced specialty in pediatrics. We met Rachel at the Toy Fair. The kits are not available for sale just yet, but will be this summer.

There are 4 colorful kits that are packed with simple playful activities to help small children develop small motor skills necessary for school all through play. There are no workbooks! The kits are recommended for children ages 3 to 5, but could be used with children as young as 18 months.

-kits 1 "ABCs and Simple shapes" and 2 "Following directions" come together and include a Grasshopper® no-spill carrying case with organized compartments and built-in easel. My favorite activity from this kit is a gel packet letter tracing: you slide a letter card inside a gel filled plastic pocket and then trace the letter. 

-kit 3 "Getting out hands ready" has coloring and clay activities as well as hungry Mr. Crunch that likes to eat foam butterflies.

-kit 4 "Snip, Glue and Grow" contains 10 multi-sensory games and craft projects to improve fine motor skills. My favorite is a bubble blower!

For more information, visit

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