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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 the App Store will lead you to believe that all fine motor skills development can take place on a tablet.  They tell us how using… Read more »

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Does Pencil Grip Matter?

Once your child is in preschool, the words “pencil grip” suddenly seem to be important.  Does pencil grip matter?  Is it important how children hold their pencils, and can this really impact their future schooling? The dynamic tripod pencil grip is the gold standard for pencil grips.  With this grip, your child will hold their… Read more »

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Does Occupational Therapy Help with Handwriting?

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 will even be able to write words and sentences.  But for the most part, handwriting is the domain of the Grade 1 classroom.  Our teachers… Read more »

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Tips for Improving 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 for handwriting. Mechanics of Good Handwriting: The Working Hand Must Be Allowed to Do its Job When the page is not stabilised with the helping… Read more »

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Improving Pencil Control for Handwriting

I always say they should have called it finger writing not handwriting.  Because it is the finger and thumb movements that facilitate pencil control for handwriting.  It is the discrete refined finger movements, isolated from the hand movements, that are necessary for speed and quality of handwriting.  Of course, finger movements don’t stand alone.  They… Read more »

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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 riding – something that everyone should just automatically know about.  So what is midline crossing?  Midline crossing is the ability to cross the imaginary midline… Read more »

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Left Handed Development and Teaching Lefties to Write

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 or 3 years of age, while for others, this may only happens around the age of 5 or 6.  So, you may notice early on… Read more »

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Why a Multi-Sensory 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 a multi-sensory approach to writing? A Multisensory Handwriting Programme is a Must! Over time we have learned that using sensory input, such as touch or… Read more »

Letter Formation Order: Does it Matter?

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 her class the best chance of achieving success.  However, we are also able to draw on the developmental progression of acquisition of the foundational lines,… Read more »

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Walk Before you Can Run: Pre-Writing Lines and Shapes

They say you can’t run before you can walk and I am certain that we all agree that this is true.  Just as true, is that children cannot learn to form letters and numbers before they have mastered the drawing of shapes.  And they cannot draw shapes before they are able to draw the component… Read more »

Fan Folding Download

This is the folding template to go with the Paper Rosette Hedgehog as shown in the video by Easy Peasy and Fun. Get your free downloadable fan folding sheet by entering your details in the form below:

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Magic Scissors®: Your Preschoolers Need These! Cutting Skills Development

We know that cutting skills are critical for pre-handwriting fine motor development.  I will never tire of saying that because I believe it so fiercely.  It is essential that our children achieve success in scissor skills and we need to find ways to facilitate cutting skills development.  Magic scissors have a unique patented design which… Read more »

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The Perceptual-Motor Foundations of Handwriting: Handwriting Development

If a 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 the perceptual-motor foundations of handwriting are numerous and complex.  Let’s look at The Wall®, an occupational therapy framework for explaining learning difficulties in children, and… Read more »

Which Pencil Grip? The Start Right Pencil Grip

We know for sure that there is no such thing as one size fits all when it comes to remediating an incorrect pencil grip.  When do you use the Start Right Pencil Grip, when do you use the CLAW and when is the Stetro or Crossover the best?  Is there a checklist, a magic formula… Read more »

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How Can we Turn the Tide of Declining Fine Motor Skills? Fine Motor Skills for Preschoolers

It is well known by teachers in classrooms across this very diverse country that the standard of fine motor skills in our pre-schoolers are not where they should be.  Teachers are criticised for referring too many children to occupational therapy.  Occupational therapists are criticised for prolonged intervention for fine motor skills.  And parents?  Well, they… Read more »

What are Fine Motor Skills? Fine Motor Skills Checklist

What are fine motor skills?  Fine motor skills 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 hand skills.  Fine motor skills enable the hands to perform refined manipulative tasks that foster independence, and enable us to become independent, functional… Read more »

Why I Never use Clothes Pegs as Finger Strengthening Exercises

Years ago, I had every conceivable type of clothes peg in my occupational therapy practise.  We made Lion King ones, Nemos, and of course, Disney Princesses for the girls.  We picked up jelly tots and every other imaginable item.  We were working on the-three-friends®.  For those of you who don’t know, the-three-friends – the thumb,… Read more »

There is little evidence that children will “catch” handwriting skills! Teaching Handwriting

“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 happen to spend time with those who are engaged in the activity.  You learn to become an efficient handwriter because handwriting is taught.  This begs… Read more »

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How Working Memory Gets Gobbled Up: The Importance of Letter Formation

Working memory is a temporary storage area in the brain which manipulates information.  Working memory, unlike long-term memory which we seem to have an endless supply of, is a finite resource.  Working memory is different to short term memory.  Our friends of over at Wikipedia describe short term memory as ” the capacity for holding,… Read more »

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The Journey from Scribbles to Handwriting: Pre-writing Skills Activities

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 handwriting.  This is a critical scholastic milestone because handwriting is the foundation for story writing and composition.  Some children make the transition from scribbles seamlessly,… Read more »

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The-Three-Friends® and Handwriting: Finger Exercises for Handwriting

We usually think of handwriting as a solitary task – an interplay between the child’s thoughts, their hand, and the paper.  But there are three very special friends who play an integral part in the handwriting process.  They need to be acknowledged, they need to be nurtured, and they need to be used.  These are… Read more »

Why Handy Scoopers Changed my World! Fine Motor Skills for Toddlers

Parents have them, schools have them, and occupational therapists love them.  Your toddler needs them and you need to get on board!  Does your little one have them?  Why peer pressure is right about Learning Resources Handy Scoopers and why they are the best for the development of fine motor skills for toddlers! I just… Read more »

Fine Motor Festive Wreath: Free Cutting Exercises for Preschoolers

We are all always on the lookout for an amazing cutting exercises for preschoolers and Grade school, but to find one that develops and challenges their fine motor skills while achieving an amazing end product is a real bonus! Research has shown that our Grade R children spend more than half of their day involved… Read more »

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 they end up with a well adjusted left hander, who masters handwriting with the same finesse as many of their right handed counterparts.  If you master… Read more »

The Stetro Song: Learn to Use the Stetro Pencil Grip

The Stetro Pencil Grip is your go-to beginner grip.  The cues will help your child to know exactly where to put their fingers and with a little practise with the song, will be well on their way!  Before you get stuck in with the song, please do be sure that you have the grip on the correct… Read more »

How Can We Help Ally with Her Handwriting? Handwriting Learning Activities

Ally is in Grade 2 and her mother is most concerned about her handwriting.  What are some of the clues we can identify from the challenges evident in this handwriting sample, and which handwriting learning activities can help her?  Occupational Therapist, Bunty McDougall weighs in. The first thing is always to say that handwriting is a… Read more »

Ambidextrousness: Why One Hand is Better than Two

From time to time we hear of children who are ambidextrous.  This seems such an amazing thing – wow – imagine being able to write with both hands!  But is it really a good thing and when, if at all, should we intervene? Before I dive in and get into this fascinating topic, I need… Read more »

Can Ritalin Improve Handwriting? Thoughts from an Occupational Therapist

There are a number of medications, Ritalin and Concerta amongst others, that can assist children with concentration difficulties.  But, can they improve handwriting and how would this work?  Let’s take a look at whether this is true and if so, how it makes a difference.  Handwriting is a complex skill that originates in the linguistic… Read more »

Get a Grip! But Which One? The CLAW

What a Strange Name but Oh How Well CLAW Pencil Grips Work! The CLAW pencil grips with their unusual design is what makes them a fantastic pencil grip.  When I first heard of it and saw its name I thought I would never use it – it both looked and sounded strange!  After someone asked about… Read more »

The Secret’s Out!  Letter Formation Rules!

Letter Formation usually includes the ability to correctly form both letters and numbers.  Research has shown that good letter formation is a significant predictor of the mastery of good handwriting.  Looking at what is letter formation with this easy infographic from The Happy Handwriter will take you through the steps toward mastering letter and number formation…. Read more »

Fine Motor and Handwriting Workshop: Cape Town, September 2015

The Happy Handwriter is excited to present our upcoming 2 day Fine Motor and Handwriting workshop.  It will be held in Observatory, Cape Town on Thursday 24th and Friday 25th September 2015. The course is open to occupational therapists, teachers, schools, physiotherapists, psychologists and anyone interested in fine motor and handwriting development in children.  Looking forward to… Read more »

Pencil Control | 8 Steps to Improve it by an Occupational Therapist. (Infographic)

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 and swiping, rather than engaging in the manipulative skills required for developing the hand muscles essential for controlling a pencil.  Occupational Therapist, Bunty McDougall, from The Happy… Read more »

Workshops 2015

Due to unforeseen circumstances beyond our control we have been forced to put our advertised 2015 workshops on hold.  We will keep you posted and let you know as soon as we are able to proceed with these. In the interim, please stay in touch with us regarding your interest in the workshops so we can… Read more »

The Pencil Project

Yesterday, during a Muscle Mania fine motor group in a Grade 1 classroom at a disadvantaged school, pencils took on a whole new meaning to me.  In fact, it was the absence of pencils.  Many of the children didn’t have pencils and some had pencils so small, that when they were writing, they were hidden… Read more »

CAPS and Handwriting workshop

With the transition to CAPS, our teachers have been overwhelmed with integrating all the changes in the curriculum.  To stimulate thought, and to look at how we can teach handwriting smarter so as to achieve the goal of efficient and legible handwriting, I will be running a workshop for teachers on “CAPS and Handwriting.”  It… Read more »