The Orton Gillingham Online Academy is thrilled to have Phil and Lorna Wooldridge as our guest bloggers on the topic of handwriting resources.
For many of the students we meet in our Orton Gillingham based tutoring practice, Dyslexia is only one of the challenges they face. Most form their letters in the classic non-standard ways: bottom-up ‘l’s, balloon-on-a-stick ‘p’s, and clockwise ‘o’s. Some also exhibit the signs of Dysgraphia. For more information, this article provides an accessible definition of Dysgraphia.
Below, are some of resources that can help the visual-spatial, fine motor and other handwriting symptoms associated with dysgraphia.
Handwriting Without Tears®
For hands-on materials, and an entire curriculum for Pre-K through 5th grade, HWT is a one-stop-shop. Note that this program is targeted towards younger students. For fifth grade and up, we now use CursiveLogic. The Keyboarding Without Tears program has worked well with all our students, regardless of age.
The Wet-Dry-Try App, which we have used with students up to 4th grade, is an emulation of a chalk board for a tablet (PC/iPad/Android,) that guides students through correct letter formation. It provides students the practice they really need and in a fun way.
CursiveLogic® CursiveLogic is an effective way for older students and adults to learn cursive handwriting, without having to result to using babyish materials. It’s clean slanted script looks mature, and our students have enjoyed using this multi-sensory approach to cursive writing.
We are part of Cursive Logic Affiliate Program and any revenue we receive goes back into materials and training to better serve the students that attend our practice.
These are some links to resources for students struggling with fine-motor control and the visual-spatial aspects of handwriting. The pencil obstacle courses and the munchy balls can also function as mid-lesson brain-breaks. We have made the tennis ball heads too, and students enjoy decorating and working with them. Therapy putty is a similar concept, and the suggested exercises help both finger strength and fine manipulation.
We have developed a series of lessons, based on the UK book, “Speed Up.“ It is helpful for developing the feeling of flow that should accompany cursive writing, as well as increasing fluency. For students for whom fluency is an issue, we move them onto this after they have mastered correctly forming their printed letters. We have also found it helpful to combine this fluency program with teaching cursive programs like Handwriting Without Tears and CursiveLogic.
Pencil grips and weights
If we had a penny for all the pencil grips we have tried, we wouldn’t need to work! Suffice to say that we only recommend trying to alter a child’s grip if it is really impairing their writing speed. The difficulty with using a grip, is that the student has to be motivated to use it, otherwise they always manage to find ways to hold the pencil grip incorrectly.
That said, I have had some success with these:
Lorna also likes to make pencil weights, as you can see below, but the Butter Grip also functions as a weight. A weight at the top of a pencil helps students reduce the pressure they exert when writing.
Another way to help students reduce their pencil pressure is to use a 3-hole binder as a slanted writing surface.
Posture is also important, as is having the correct chair height, or using footstools and padded cushions to help them correctly address the writing process. The blog, “Handwriting With Katherine,” has some great ideas for posture and more.
Resources for Organization of Thoughts and Written Language
Dysgraphic students often have issues formulating their thoughts and then getting them from their brains to the paper. Keyboarding (See Keyboarding Without Tears, above) can help, as it frees them from the strain of letter formation.
We recommend subscribing to Newsela. It’s free, and delivers daily articles and current-affairs news at multiple reading levels. This can also be a useful source of age-appropriate passages for practicing reading.
This is not an exhaustive list of resources, and we haven’t really touched on the use of assistive technology; a field with tremendous potential but numerous pitfalls and false trails. We will develop a separate blog on this area in the near future.
If you have had positive experiences with other resources you would like to recommend, we would love to hear from you. Please enter them in the comments below.
A Chance to Win! One of the owls is to be a reward for a student who is completing the CursiveLogic extra practice sheets this summer.
If you would like a chance to win the other, add a comment indicating you would like to be included. The Orton-Gillingham Online Academy will select a name at random and we will be pleased to send one along.
Making a Needle Felted-Owl Pencil Weight:
Is this not the most adorable little pencil weight? Be sure to share your thoughts in the comment box below to have a chance to win one of Lorna’s felt-owl pencil weights.
Thank-you, Phil and Lorna, for sharing your handwriting resources with us! As always, we appreciate you and love it when you share your knowledge and expertise with us.
Keep doing what you are doing because the world needs what only you have to offer!