May 20, 2020
Hello New Field Families!
I am very excited that occupational therapy is now able to provide direct services remotely. At this time, I plan to continue to share enrichment activities via email and/or video, take part in some virtual learning sessions, and consult with teachers and families about specific student needs. Please email me if you are interested in setting up additional direct virtual occupational therapy sessions for your child. Also, occupational therapy will be working to monitor your child's continued growth and progress at home. I would love to see or hear how they are doing with activities shared by occupational therapy!
Please contact me at any time! I am here to support your family during Remote Learning! My office hours are from 9:00 - 11:00 AM, Monday - Friday, but I also would be happy to talk, videoconference, or email at other times that are convenient for you!
This week's activity centers on scissor skills or cutting! While snipping on a line or cutting out a shape may seem relatively straightforward, these activities involve many important underlying skills, such as:
Both beginning and more advanced cutting activities can help students exercise these skills – which are also used in handwriting, recording and aligning math computations, computer use, and sports! Cutting is also a highly functional skill – think of how we have to cut off a clothing tag, cut the ends of a flower bouquet, or cut open toy packaging! Finally, cutting can be a really fun avenue for creative expression!
Scissor skills often develop in a progression ...
· Snipping paper, with only a few consecutive cuts
· Cutting across a folded or half-sheet of paper
· Cutting on a thick, straight line
· Cutting on a thick, curved line
· Cutting large, simple geometric shapes (e.g., circle, square)
· Cutting small, complex geometric shapes
Note: I’m going to share strategies for use of standard student scissors; please feel free to reach out for additional support if your child uses/needs adaptive scissors
· Recommend rounded/blunt end scissors, especially for early elementary
· Thumb is placed in the smaller scissor handle opening
· Fingers are placed in the larger scissor handle opening
· Thumb is positioned ON TOP; we cue “thumb’s up”
· Thumb should remain UP or ON TOP while cutting, not sideways or pointing down
· Elbow of cutting arm should be at side of body
· Cut forward/up or AWAY FROM BODY, not across body/sideways
· Hold paper with helper hand
· Cut ON THE LINE
· When cutting shapes, cut INTO THE CORNER
· When cutting shapes, TURN PAPER, not arm/hand, to continue cutting forward/away from body
What About Lefties? Lefties should cut with their preferred hand. If they choose to cut left-handed, they may need to reverse finger/thumb placement on the scissor handle; for lefties, the thumb can be placed in the larger handle opening, with fingers in the smaller opening. The thumb should still be positioned “on top.” There are some lefties who prefer to cut right handed; I am one of them!
Make It Easier
· Provide assistance with paper management
· Consider smaller paper – for example, half-sheet or notecard size for those learning to cut on a line
· Place stickers on the line, to draw attention to the line
· Pre-cut just around shape borders, reducing extra paper student must manage
· Make the cutting line thicker and/or darker
· Move away from the table; sometimes, the table is a bit too high, making it hard for students to keep elbow at side when cutting
· Finger trace the cutting line before cutting, to better orient to the line
· Place stickers or colorful dots on the corners of shapes; this is a visual cue to cut into the corner and turn paper
· Cue “turn” and make a big show of turning paper at a shape corner
Make It Harder
· Make the cutting line thinner and/or lighter
· Practice cutting thicker paper – for example, card stock
· Practice cutting larger paper – for example, newspaper
· Cut unusual shapes – for example, pictures from grocery ads, the newspaper, or a magazine
· Request cutting of shapes without cutting in from edge of paper
Make It Sensory & Fun
· Cut play doh or silly putty – make into a snake/log or a pancake and cut pieces
· Cut straws into small pieces; it’s so fun to watch them fly!
· Cut cooked spaghetti or lasagna noodles
· Cut a sheet of aluminum foil
· Cut natural materials gathered on a walk or from the yard, such as fallen leaves
· Cut fruits or veggies (e.g., snap peas, carrot sticks)
Early Cutting Skills -
ACTIVITY 1 – Shape Flower! Use the cutting template or make your own! You may wish to color the flower shapes before you cut! Cut out the simple geometric shapes (squares, circle, rectangle, and triangle). Assemble and glue on a separate sheet of paper to create a cheerful spring flower!
Check out the video to review cutting strategies and to make the shape flower!
Later Cutting Skills -
ACTIVITY 2 – (Complex Shape) Flower Bouquet! Use the cutting template or make your own! You may wish to color the flower shapes before you cut! Cut out the flowers, stems, and leaves. Assemble and glue on a separate sheet of paper to create a spring bouquet!
May 12, 2020:
Hello New Field Families,
Hi New Field Families
Happy Monday! I hope you had a nice weekend and were able to enjoy some of the beautiful, summer-like weather
A few weeks ago, we talked about my favorite “rule” to support readable handwriting – letters touch the line! This week, I would like to share another favorite handwriting “rule”– leave a space between words!
Please feel free to check out the video for this week's topic and activities. The video and other attachments are now being linked via Google Drive. The video also is available on New Field's YouTube page. Please let me know if you have any trouble accessing them!
As you may already know, occupational therapy received new guidance last week about services during Remote Learning. I am very excited that we are now able to provide direct services remotely. At this time, I plan to continue to share enrichment activities via email and/or video, take part in some virtual learning sessions, and consult with teachers and families about specific student needs. Please email me if you are interested in setting up direct virtual occupational therapy sessions for your child. Also, occupational therapy will be working to monitor your child's continued growth and progress at home. I would love to hear or see how they have been participating in activities shared by occupational therapy!
Please feel free to reach out any time! I am here to support your child and family! My office hours are from 9:00 – 11:00 AM, Monday – Friday, but I also would be happy to talk, videoconference, or email at other times that are convenient for you!
Please feel free to check out the accompanying video for this handwriting rule!
Video link via Google Drive:
Video link via New Field's YouTube page:
2. Leave a SPACE between words
Note: When talking/learning about this rule, we often shorten it to just “Leave a SPACE”
· Words don’t like to be smooshed! They need space! This is how we make the concept interesting, understandable, and relatable. As people, we have a space bubble around us, and we try to give others their needed space. Words are like us, they need space, too!
· It can help to show what “smooshed” looks like. In the past, I have “smooshed” my face/cheeks (think Home Alone movie!), my hands/fingers, pieces of play doh, and even erasers to illustrate this concept.
· Word visuals really help to show needed space between words. At school, we often use magnetic letters (the type you might have on your refrigerator!) to make simple words. Next, we smoosh the magnetic/play doh words close together, showing an absence of space. Then we rearrange the words so there is space between them! Writing simple words in play doh (e.g., THE CAT) or writing words on separate pieces of paper are great alternatives to using magnetic letters!
· Use a finger (index or pinkie) to leave a space! Often, students do leave some space between their words – but this space can be too small, too big, or inconsistent in appearance. So we use a “natural” word spacer – a finger – as a visual guide for spaces. See the next section for more details!
· Words feel sad when they're smooshed. This helps students feel motivated to leave a space between words! It also gives us a framework for visually labeling word spaces - see below for more.
· Words feel happy when have space! They can breathe! This helps positively reinforce adequate spacing between words. It also supports an understandable way to visually label word spaces using sad or smiley faces.
Why use a finger as a word spacer? There are many types of word spacer tools available – plastic and cardboard spacers made just for this purpose, popsicle sticks, and wooden clothespins are common. I have used these tools, but I have generally found fingers to be more functional for spacing. Word spacer tools tend to get lost easily; fingers are always there! Also, early writers can start spacing with their index finger (which makes a larger space) and then move to their pinkie finger for smaller spaces on narrower-lined paper (e.g., loose leaf or notebook paper).
How exactly do you use a finger to space words? Early writers practice pointing their helper hand (non-writing hand) index finger. After each word, I prompt, “SPACE,” and the student places their pointed, helper hand finger onto the line; they then start writing the next word, working around their finger. With practice, they typically become more independent with this process! Later writers who are using narrower-lined paper usually need smaller word spaces. We practice the same technique using a pointed helper-hand pinkie finger. As leaving space becomes more routine, students often transition to “eyeballing” their word spaces, using their finger only occasionally as needed.
What about work checking? Early practice checking work includes moving word by word and “showing” each space; students take their finger and place it into each space between words. If the finger fits, the space is good – smiley face! If their finger doesn’t fit, the space is too small – sad face! Occasionally, students are leaving too much space between words – and we practice leaving “just enough” space. Older students with experience spacing and checking their work can often “eyeball” the space, only using their finger to check if they’re not quite sure.
How do we remember this rule? We usually use a physical/movement symbol for this rule (which can help students remember the rule, regardless of their reading level): point one index finger up into air. The finger is their spacing tool. Leave a space between words! We also sometimes use a written symbol, such as a picture of a finger or a space between two vertical lines. Please see attachments for details.
ACTIVITY 1 – For students with early writing skills. First, use magnet or play doh letters to form simple 2-word phrases in upper or lower case (e.g., THE CAT, red bus). Now, smoosh the two words together! Then space them apart, using your finger as a spacing tool. Ask your child to do the same – first smooshing, then spacing. Now ask your child to copy/write the phrases, using their index finger to leave a space between words. They also can write copy/write their first and last names, leaving a space between words. Check work, with your child using their helper hand index finger to “show” the spaces between words. Spaces that fit a finger get a smiley!
ACTIVITY 2 – For students with later writing skills. Ask your child to correct my sample sentences, identifying smooshed words/small words spaces. Then ask your child to copy the sample sentences, using their helper hand index or pinkie finger to leave a space between words. Check work, starting at the beginning of each sentence, and helping your child show their spaces with their finger. Too-small spaces can be corrected! A sentence with (good) spaces earns a smiley!
Hi New Field Families,
I hope you are doing well and had a good weekend! It was so nice to see the sun and have some warmer weather yesterday!
I understand that some of you were able to try making a sensory bottle – and I’m thrilled that your children found it fun and engaging! Thank you so much for sharing back with me! On that note, please know that all activities shared by occupational therapy are completely optional. I understand that families have a lot going on right now – and balancing Remote Learning with grown-up work schedules and family life can be really challenging!
Today, I wanted to share new activities designed to help students practice noticing details, which is an important skill that supports coloring, cutting, handwriting, editing, and more! I also wanted to share information about another computer technology to support written communication – text to speech. This is the complement of speech to text, which was discussed last week. All activities are now being shared via Google Drive. Please let me know if you have any trouble accessing them!
Please know that I would love to connect with you and your family! My office hours are from 9:00 – 11:00 AM, Monday – Friday, but I also would be happy to talk, videoconference, or email at other times that are convenient for you! Thank you for all you are doing to support your child!
We have talked about how letters touch the line, and how special descending or “worm” letters (gjpqy) dig down below the line. Many students understand these rules, but sometimes it can be tricky to see or focus on those little details when we are writing or checking our work! For example, it can be hard to notice if a letter is really touching the line like it should.
So this week, I want to help students practice noticing little details on a page and in their homes! This skill has a long name – visual discrimination – but it really helps with handwriting, math, cutting, and even typing on the computer!
I’ve attached three activities – Activities 1 and 2 both ask a student to look at the sample picture in the box. Then, look at the pictures next to it – only one is just like the sample! Can they find it? Noticing the little details will help them choose the right one! Activity 2 is a scavenger hunt! Ask your child to find objects around your home that are the same shape or the same color as the pictures in the box (e.g., find an object that is a circle, or item that is red).
Make it easier - Cover up some of the emojis or arrows, narrowing down the number of options.
Make it harder - Show your child the sample picture for 10-15 seconds, then cover it up! Ask your child to choose the matching one from memory
No printer? No problem! - Ask your child to point to the matching emoji or arrow on the screen. Or feel free to use these activities as inspiration, drawing your own emoji faces and arrows!
ACTIVITY 3 – Shape & Color Scavenger Hunt – Find 2 objects at home that match each picture! If the picture shows a circle, fine 2 items that are circular in shape! If the picture shows red, find 2 items that are red!
Next week, I’ll share the answers to our Emoji and Arrow Match Activities!
Select to Speak (Text to Speech)
What is Text to Speech?
The user has type-written content, which may have been hand-typed or voice-typed. The user selects this writing, and the computer (software) reads it aloud! Each word is highlighted as it is being said by the computer!
Why Use Text to Speech?
Text to Speech can support student output and accuracy with written communication. It can help students who –
Have difficulty reading back their ideas/responses
Are learning to organize thoughts/ideas in their writing
Have difficulty spelling accurately, or recognizing the correct spelling of words
Where Is Text to Speech?
Chromebooks have a select to speak (speech to text) tool that can be found in the Accessibility features. Once this has been activated, speech to text can be accessed quickly and easily! Please see the attached Select to Speak documents for step by step directions and screen shots to enable and use this great tool!
How Should Text to Speech Be Used?
Consider text to speech for:
Reading back voice-typed work (i.e., work produced with speech to text)
A support to check for organization of ideas (e.g., Does the sentence/response make sense? Does it answer the question? Is that a complete sentence?)
Spelling support, particularly for words your child knows when heard but ones for which they might not recognize the correct spelling
Please refer to the attached documents.
- Speech to Text. Part 1. Activate Select to Speak walks you through how to initially enable this feature on a Chromebook.
- Speech to Text. Part 2. Use Select to Speak reviews how to use this feature in Google Docs with text!
ACTIVITY: Try select to speak (text to speech) with your child this week!
· You can ask your child to use select to speak with the work they produced last week using voice typing
· Or ask your child to produce new writing – via hand- or voice-typing – and then read it back with select to speak
· Or try using select to speak with a class assignment
I would be happy to walk anyone through select to speak (text to speech) via phone or videoconferencing, and please feel free to reach out for additional support!