I’ve been doing quite a lot of work with my class over the past 18 months on their fine motor skills. I know it’s probably obvious, but as a scientist now teaching everything, it hadn’t really crossed my mind that improving these would help my class with their writing. It was only when I went on a KS1/2 writing INSET session that it got pointed out to me, and a week later we started our morning workouts.
I have a 30 minute morning registration slot. We take the register, check the date and the timetable and then work on our ‘boxes’ for 15 minutes, four mornings a week. The fifth morning we use iPads and apps which make us use two hands. I started off using ideas from ‘clever hands’ and modified them over the year in consultation with our OT.
Importantly, each activity is in it’s own box, like the ones you get your Chinese take away in. I found some in Wilkinsons, 5 for £1. The first task for the student is to get into the box! The contents of our boxes and what we do with them are as follows:
- Pegs. A selection of clothes pegs and bulldog clips, to be put onto the lid of the box, using first one hand and then the other
- Knots. Tied by staff in a complex mess, students have to undo them, and then do them again. The extension for this is to try and tie shoe laces
- Twisting. Using the white ties you get with food bags, students have to twist the ends of these together around something. We use a chunky paintbrush
- Jigsaw. Putting together a puzzle, can make this one harder or easier dependent on student
- Screws. Nuts and bolts to put together and take apart again, and a cruet set with screw tops for good measure
- Playdough. To roll into a ball, sausage, make shapes from, flatten and use cutters
- Coins. A mix of 2p and 5p coins, to be removed from the box, stacked in small piles, turned over to have all heads/tails upwards and then slotted into appropriate size holes. (OT says this helps practice for buttons)
- Beads. We have some large, flat beads with multiple holes in. Staff again thread these in a bit of a mess and students have to undo them.
- Threading. A set of small beads to pick out of the box and thread to make a necklace
- Paperclips. Students have to put these onto card (and surprisingly find it difficult), first with one hand and then with the other
- Cutting. A series of shapes to cut around, the complexity depends on the student.
My class are independent enough that they are able to organise this for themselves each morning, keeping a note on the chart for who had what each day. Parents have commented how much neater handwriting has become and how much easier pupils are finding routine tasks such as dressing and helping around the house. It’s been a long process, but with input from OTs and patience to stick with it, I’m really glad we are seeing positive results.