Welcome to Bunty’s Fine Motor & Handwriting Blog

Presented and maintained by occupational therapist Bunty McDougall.

Bunty has over 30 years of experience with learning difficulties and has a special interest in developing fine motor, pre-writing and handwriting skills.  Combining her years of experience as an occupational therapist treating children with learning difficulties with the latest research on the development of fine motor skills and handwriting acquisition, has resulted in the development of The Happy Handwriter site. This set of resources specifically addresses areas our children need to function optimally, especially at school.

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The Wall Model of occupational performance for analysing the sensory-motor and visual perceptual foundations for learning.

The Wall Model® of Occupational Performance

We know that motor planning, spatial perception, sensory modulation, figure-ground perception and bilateral integration, amongst many other modalities, underpin the learning process in the classroom.  But how do all these ...
A collection of blog posts on how to improve handwriting.

How to Improve Handwriting

Find the resources on how to improve handwriting for kids below. The Assessment of Handwriting Function is an evidence-based assessment that informs treatment by ensuring you don't miss any valuable ...
An example of preschool fine motor activities from The Happy Handwriter Muscle Mania pre-writing groups.

Preschool Fine Motor Activities for Fine Motor Groups

I love fine motor groups because they offer collective motivation.  We know that to develop preschool fine motor skills, our children need repetition and practise.  When we are confronted with ...
pre-writing skills

Pre-Writing Skills Development. Walk Before you Can Run.

They say you can't run before you can walk, and I am certain that we all agree that this is true.  Just as valid is that children cannot learn to ...
This social story for kids is about a boy called Bongi. He struggles with messy handwriting. This story helps children to understand that untidy handwriting is not their fault.

Messy Handwriting Social Story for Kids.

Social stories have been around since the beginning of time.  Children on the laps of their parents have listened as their parents related stories that included them.  Parents also included ...
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Fine Motor Activities for Home. Make a Fine Motor Pizza!

Who doesn't love a pizza?!  This fine motor pizza is going to target the foundations for pencil grip and ultimately pencil control.  This is the all-in-one pizza with all the ...
A blog post about scissor skills development with scissor skills activities downloads.

Development of Scissor Skills

For years I have stubbornly refused to give age norms for the development of scissor skills milestones. This is because I firmly believe that following and mastering each developmental sequence ...
Letter formation order

Letter Formation Order: Does it Matter? Get your Download!

There are as many ways to teach letter formation as there are teachers.  Each teacher draws on her experience and applies it into her classroom to give the children in ...
Download these fun handwriting warm ups with a rhyme and a squeeze ball. They are the best for engaging kids in handwriting warm up exercises!

Handwriting Warm Ups Squeeze Ball Download

You can never have too many handwriting warm ups!  You can be sure when you use these handwriting warm up exercises, your children are going to have a blast and ...
foundations for handwriting, handwriting development

Handwriting Development: The Perceptual-Motor Foundations

If your child is struggling with poor handwriting and is referred for an occupational therapy handwriting assessment, the outcome of the assessment can show very diverse difficulties.  This is because ...
A fun Halloween cutting activities skeleton download to add to your Halloween fine motor activities resources.

Halloween Fine Motor Activities. Fun Skeleton Download.

There is nothing like the excitement of the season to engage our children in the very activities they generally choose to avoid because they are difficult.  These gorgeous skull and ...

Motor Skills Development and the ABC of Handwriting

For those who are new to the field of handwriting, this can serve as a checklist for the areas that must be considered when preparing our children for this life ...
The Happy Handwriter blog post about pre-writing development and the progression from mark-making to drawing a man.

Pre-Writing Development. Scribble Salt Tray Activity

Mark making and scribbling are our children's first attempts at putting pen (or crayon) to paper as they begin their journey of pre-writing strokes development.  From there, they need to ...
Pencil grips for kids. When should we change a modified pencil grasp that has not progressed according to the typical stages of pencil grasp development?

Pencil Grip for Kids. Should I Change this Grasp?

There is enough out there on pencil grasp development to know when a pencil grasp looks a bit - or more than a bit - dodgy.  But the question that ...
Get a hippo cutting skills worksheets and read about cutting worksheets for preschoolers.

Cutting Skills Worksheets. Pre-School Cutting Skills

Cutting assists children to develop their fine motor hand muscles for pencil control and handwriting.  I believe it to be one of the most valuable pre-writing skills we have.  The ...
Looking for a sentence with all the letters of the alphabet? Here is a fun new option!

A Sentence with all the Letters of the Alphabet? Get yours here!

Are you looking for a new fresh take on the quick brown fox?  The quick brown fox has long been used for short non-standardised baseline handwriting samples.  It is quick ...
A post from The Happy Handwriter on exploring handwriting mechanics to assist in targeting handwriting help for kids.

Handwriting Help. Mechanics, Stability and Movement.

When considering the motor aspects of handwriting help for kids, looking at points of stability and movement can give us really good clues as to where to direct our intervention ...
Do broken crayons help with colouring and fine motor skill practise?

Fine Motor Practise. Colouring and the Broken Crayon Debate.

There are a lot of opinions as to whether we should be asking our children to colour pictures and colour within the lines.  I am not going to jump into ...
Fine motor Christmas activities for kids download.

Fine Motor Christmas Activities

There is no doubt that our children get caught up in the excitement of Christmas!  It is also a time when many are on a school break.  We can harness ...

Pencil grip for Handwriting.  Take the Quiz!

We have moved on from the rigid view we had of the functional pencil grasp back in the 90s.  We now know that pencil grip for handwriting is governed by ...
handwriting research, research on handwriting, handwriting research and resources, handwriting research articles

Handwriting Research. My Go-to Handwriting Resources

There are mountains of handwriting research and resources by different people.  As those practising in the field we rely on this research to ensure we are following best practise when ...

Fine Motor Skills Practice. Fun Monster Craft Activities!

Our fine motor skills practice monster activities will enable you to have fun with your child while developing their working and assisting hands.  The preferred hand is often called the ...
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In-Hand Manipulation Activities. Why they Help Handwriting

In-hand manipulation is the ability to move small objects around in the palm of the hand without the other hand helping.  It is an important skill for our children to ...
This blog post on The happy Handwriter explores tactile discrimination activities

Tactile Discrimination Activities for Pre-Writing Skills for Preschoolers

Tactile discrimination is the ability to use the touch information from the fingers and hand to identify an object without seeing it.  The brain uses this touch information to know ...
A blog post exploring cutting skills development, how to improve cutting skills and how to choose cutting sheets for preschoolers.

Cutting Skills Development. Cutting Sheets for Preschoolers

Cutting is the bomb for developing pencil grip and pencil control for handwriting.  If we can get our children to both master and enjoy cutting, we will go a long ...
A blog post exploring whether q-tips, broken crayons and clothes pegs are good for hand strengthening for kids and hand strengthening activities for kids.. and hand strengthening.

Hand strengthening for kids. Q-tips, clothes pegs and broken crayons.

I have always enjoyed analysing popular hand strengthening activities for kids to see if they offer the benefits they claim to. Are broken crayons all they are cracked up to ...
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Easter Fine Motor Activities for Developing Pencil Grip Foundations

If we want our children to improve their fine motor skills and pencil control for handwriting, they have to be on board.  We cannot do it to them.  We cannot ...
how to teach a child to cut with scissors, how are you supposed ot hold scissors, how do you teach scissor skills, How to hold scissors

How to Hold Scissors. Scissor Cutting for Pre-Schoolers

We pay a huge amount of attention to pencil grip and how to teach our children to hold the pencil correctly.  But when it comes to cutting, we tend not ...
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Handwriting Teaching Strategies. 7 Critical Principles

The teaching of handwriting is a vast topic.  After over 30 years of exploring the subject I am still learning more every day.  But not everyone wants to spend 30 ...
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Why Kids Should Work on a Vertical Surface

It is no secret that one of my favourite working positions is the vertical surface.  I have always said that if you wanted to take one thing out of my ...
The development of pre-writing skills activities from scribbles to handwriting.

Pre-writing Skills Activities. From Scribbles to Handwriting

Our children's first works of art are random scribbles on a page.  Within a few short years these scribbles have been transformed into the beautifully crafted letters that make up ...
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Valentine’s Day Fine Motor Activities

There is little doubt our techno kids need opportunities for hand strengthening and fine motor development.  Using special days and holidays can go a long way to engage our children ...
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Should Pencil Grasp be Taught? Do Kids Learn it Automatically?

More and more, I hear people asking if pencil grasp should be taught, or will our children automatically learn the correct pencil grip on their own?  Is it inherently pre-programmed ...
reversing letters and numbers when writing, b-d reversals, letter reversal interventions, is it normal for my child to write letters backwards

Reversing Letters and Numbers when Writing.  When is it Normal?

There is a horrible cold feeling that comes over a parent when they see their child is writing their letters or numbers backwards.  The reason for this is simple: it ...
hands on activities for kids, hands on learning activities, paper folding ideas, interactive class activities

Hands on Activities for Kids. Paper Folding Unicorns

Paper folding develops some of the critical underlying skills for handwriting.  Handwriting development requires well-established visual-perceptual and motor foundations.  The more you expose your child to hands on activities for ...
fine motor skills development, fine motor skills activities

Fine Motor Skills Activities for your Family at Christmas!

Christmas comes around every year and it is a time when families can draw together and focus on the  meaning of the season.  Along with that comes all the excitement ...
Why is bilateral integration so important for handwriting?

Why is Bilateral Integration Important for Handwriting?

Why is bilateral integration so important?  Handwriting is a bilateral task.  We need to stabilise the page with one hand and write with the other.  We cannot expect our hand ...
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Activities to Improve Handwriting. Dinosaur Themed!

When we are helping children with handwriting foundations, sometimes all we want are some easily accessible grab-and-go activities we can implement at a moments notice.  While we do love to know ...
Positioning of a book for handwriting

Correct Paper Positioning for Handwriting. The Crocodile Mouth®

There is a best position for your book to be in when you are writing!  I am a straight-line girl.  I like my furniture against the walls; I love it ...
Seperation of the two sides of the hands

Handwriting for Kids.  Separation of the two Sides of the Hand.

When you watch a top tennis player you can only marvel at the precision, force and control with which they hit the ball.  It is extraordinary how they can hit ...
Teaching left-handed kids to cut.

Teaching Left Handers to Cut. Left Handed Scissor Skills

Cutting and scissor skills are one of the critical prewriting skills on account of the muscles they develop.  The muscles we use for opening and closing the scissors are the ...
Ocupational therapy handwriting and fine motor exercises

Occupational Therapy Handwriting Homework.  Yes or No?

I have a folder on my computer for OT home programmes.  It is overflowing with documents for the countless numbers of children I have seen over the years.  Going through ...
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Sitting Posture and Handwriting for Kids. Get it Right for Good Handwriting.

We hear a lot about the importance of sitting posture and handwriting for kids.  But do we know the difference it can make?  Did you know that simply by improving ...
Kids who hate writing

My Child Hates Handwriting: 5 Reasons Why They May Hate it.

Some children just hate handwriting.  End of story.  They resist it, they hurry to get it done and it becomes a huge emotional hurdle.  Our challenge is to understand why ...
Read about the benefits of cursive handwriting by occupational therapist, Bunty McDougall.

The Benefits of Cursive Handwriting: It Saves the Day!

Cursive handwriting seems to bring out diametrically opposed opinions.  People either love it, or hate it.  The cursive lovers speak only of the pros of cursive, while the haters speak ...
Teaching writing in the foundation phase

Automaticity in Handwriting. WHAT to write not HOW to write.

Automaticity in handwriting is the ability to automatically recall letter formation patterns so your child can think about WHAT to write, not HOW to write.  Handwriting automaticity is not something ...
Number formation for kids

Number Formation and How to Learn to Write Numbers.

When it comes to handwriting, we always talk about children needing to have automatic handwriting so they can think about WHAT to write, not HOW to write.  And that holds ...
how to teach a child to write on the line, should children write on lines

Writing on the Lines: Should our Kids Write on Lines?

Like so many aspects of handwriting, the writing lines vs no writing lines debate is as passionate and diverse as there are people discussing it.  Should our focus be writing ...
how do i teach my child to write their name

Learn to Write your Name the Easy Way

There is no hard and fast rule as to when a child should write their name.  But usually by Grade 00 your child's peers are starting to write their names ...
Teaching children to type

Dysgraphia or Disorder in Written Expression. How to Help

While we promote handwriting and its benefits from improved story writing and composition, to aiding with memory and recall; there are times when handwriting has gone really wrong.  Some children ...
Apps to improve motor skills for kids

Technology and Fine Motor Skills: Can we use Apps?

When it comes to the development of fine motor skills, the world of tablets, phones and Apps have certainly jumped on the band wagon.  One trip to Google Play or ...
Pencil grips development chart

Does Pencil Grip Matter or is Pencil Grasp not an Issue?

Once your child is in preschool, the words "pencil grip" and "pencil grasp" suddenly seem to be important.  Does pencil grip matter?  Is it important how children hold their pencils, ...
tips to help older kids with handwriting

How to Improve Handwriting for Kids. Handwriting Help for Older Children.

Is it too later to help my child with handwriting?  So long as there aren't any fundamental underlying neurological or other medical issues at play, the answer is it's never ...
does occupational therapy help with handwriting

Occupational Therapy for Handwriting – How Does it Help?

By the time our children enter Grade 1, they have usually learned to write their names and may be able to write letters and numbers.  The more advanced amongst them ...
Looking for tips for improving your handwriting?! This tip is one of the best ways to improve handwriting? Stabilising the pages is one of the best ways to improve handwriting.

Tips for Improving your Handwriting: Stabilise the Page!

When looking for tips for improving your handwriting and the mechanics of good handwriting, there is one thing that WILL improve handwriting.  Every time!  And that is stabilising the page ...
pencil control for handwriting for kids

Pencil Control Worksheets for Handwriting. Get Fun Activities!

I always say they should have called it finger writing not handwriting.  Simply because it is the discrete refined finger movements, isolated from the hand movements, which facilitate pencil control ...
Importance of crossing the midline

What is Midline Crossing: 5 Ways it Affects Handwriting

Everyone talks about midline crossing like we should inherently know what it is.  They use the term in a throw away manner like they are talking about skipping or bike ...
steps in teaching cursive handwriting, how to teach cursive handwriting, how do I teach my child cursive

Teaching Cursive Handwriting. Why Don’t Kids Stick With it?

Over the past number of years it seems that cursive handwriting has, in some circles, fallen out of favour. There seems to be little time during the school day for ...
teaching left handed children

Teaching Left Handers to Write. Left Handed Development.

When our babies begin exploring they tend to use both hands, or randomly use either the left or right hand.  Hand preference may begin to emerge as early as 2 ...
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A Multi-Sensory Approach to Writing | Handwriting Curriculum

Multi-sensory is defined by the Collins English Dictionary as "involving or using more than one of the senses."  So, what is the big deal about this when it comes to ...
fine motor skills development

What are Fine Motor Skills? Fine Motor Skills Checklist

What are fine motor skills?  They are the small co-ordinated movements of the hands and fingers that make us as human beings special.  In some instances they are also called ...
Quote by Steve Graham

Teaching Handwriting. Kids don’t “Catch” Handwriting Skills!

"There is little evidence that children will 'catch' handwriting skills!" (Steve Graham, 1999.)  I love this quote!  Handwriting is not like the flu.  You don't catch it simply because you ...
The importance of letter formation

The Importance of Letter Formation. Free up Working Memory

Working memory is a temporary storage area in the brain which manipulates information.  Unlike long-term memory which we seem to have an endless supply of, is a finite resource.  Working ...
fine motor development activities for kids

How to Improve Fine Motor Skills? Why is Fine Motor Declining?

Over the past 20 years there has been a generalised decline in our children's fine motor skills.  What started as a general fall off, has progressed to them plummeting in ...
The principles to consider when choosing a handwriting curriculum.

Handwriting Curriculum. 5 Principles to Consider When Choosing a Style.

When it comes to teaching handwriting, choosing a handwriting curriculum and style is the most critical decision you are going to be making.  Once you have made a choice, you ...
fine motor skills for preschoolers, practical activities for kids

Finger Exercises for Handwriting. Practical Activities for Kids.

When we are working with children to help them with their fine motor skills and handwriting, we often need to structure activities to get the exact movements we are looking ...
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Writing Legibility. Does Illegible Handwriting Affect Grades?

One of our great handwriting researchers, Dr Steve Graham, identified the shocking implications of untidy handwriting on the grades allocated to students.  I have always known illegible writing affected marks.  ...
activities to strengthen fine motor skills

Handwriting Intervention Strategies. Bad Handwriting Myths

"My child is just being lazy - that is why he has untidy handwriting" The first of the "bad handwriting" myths is the belief that children have untidy handwriting because ...
left handed handwriting, left handed page position

Left Handed Handwriting. A Golden Nugget

Every teacher and every therapist has encountered a left handed child.  If you aren't left handed yourself, you may wonder how to help and advise parents.  You want to ensure ...
pencil grips and pencil grippers for kids

Pencil Grips for Kids. Ultimate Guide to Types of Grips

Pencil grips for kids, or pencil grippers are popular when it comes to assisting children in achieving the optimal pencil grip for pencil control, speed, and legibility of handwriting.  They ...
hand dominance in children

Ambidextrous and Hand Preference

From time to time we hear of children who are ambidextrous.  This seems such an amazing thing!  Imagine being able to write with both hands!  Does it matter if a ...
Blog post on letter formation, letter formation activities and the stages of letter reproduction.

Letter Formation. The Secret Weapon to Good Handwriting 

Letter formation usually includes the ability to form both letters and numbers correctly.  Research has shown that good letter formation is a significant predictor of the mastery of good handwriting.  ...
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Development of Handwriting Skills in Kids | 8 Steps

We all know what untidy, illegible handwriting looks like.  The quality of fine motor skills and pencil control are on the decline in our techno age where pre-schoolers are pointing ...