On September 19, 2023, Kelly Wilk-Downs, OTR/L presented Therapro’s first FREE Webinar of this school year, Cutting Made Simple. She offered a comprehensive look at the:
Development of scissor use
Selecting appropriate scissors for students
Prerequisite skills needed for learning to cut with scissors
This blog post comes on the heels of Kelly’s webinar; in this post we are reviewing some tools available at Therapro that are perfect for encouraging the development of scissor skills in beginner scissor users and beyond!
Hats Off and On to Scissor Skills: Exclusive to Therapro is a creative publication called Hats Off and On to Scissor Skills, by Peggy Huntley Spitz, OTR. This book consists of 25 themed hat designs that can be made for 4 progressive levels of cutting skills:
Straight line cutting and/or random snipping
Curved line cutting
Simple shape cutting
Complex shape cutting
This is a fun and unique activity book that will help you create an enjoyable project for the developmental progression of scissor skills!
Comprehensive Scissor Assessment Kit: Therapro offers a variety adaptive scissors that will ensure active participation from all students learning cutting skills, including those with limited hand function due to weakness, incoordination, and other functional limitations. Check out Therapro’s Comprehensive Scissor Assessment Kit, which includes 15 scissors of 10 different styles, plus a carry case and Manual.
Therapro carries a variety of scissors to meet the different needs of scissor users as they are progressing developmentally. Here is a sample of some of our favorite scissors.
Easi-Grip Loop Scissors : Easi Grip Loop Scissors are available in two sizes; the Mini Easi-Grip Loop Scissors are great for pre-school children while the standard Easi Grip Loop Scissors are made for the adult sized hand. These scissors are self opening for either right or left hand. They are operated by using pressure between the thumb and fingers or palm and fingers.
Self Opening Scissors : The Self Opening Scissors are available for left and right handed users. These scissors reopen automatically after hand pressure has been released.
Long Loop Scissors : The Long Loop Scissors are also available for left and right handed users. These scissors allow the user to use whole hand strength to operate. They also provide greater finger contact, which offers better control.
Mounted Table Top Scissors : The Mounted Table Top Scissors offer stability with scissors attached to a base. To operate users simply depressing the large handle.
Therapro is celebrating its occupational therapy authors and creators during Occupational Therapy Month. Read on to learn more about these great occupational therapists and their creations!
Jenny L. Clark, OTR/L, BCP is the creator of the “Learn to Move” curriculum and Therapro’s Letter Treasure Hunt. Jenny has helped children over the past 25 years as a licensed pediatric occupational therapist working as a speaker, consultant, private practitioner at her own clinic (Jenny’s Kids, Inc.), school-based occupational therapist, independent contractor for early intervention services, author, and inventor. Jenny’s creation, Letter Treasure Hunt, is a fun and engaging game that targets handwriting skills while weaving in fun gross motor activities.
Linda Merry, OTR is the co-creator of the functionalhand. She has many years’ experience and extensive knowledge working with children and adults who have disabilities and teaching on a variety of topics. She is a senior therapists at Easter Seals DuPage & the Fox Valley Region in Villa Park, IL and co-owner of Thera-Solutions which designs programs, coaches’ professionals and develops products for therapists, educators and caregivers. Her creation, the functionalhand is an innovative tool to assist with grasping objects for everyday fun and function!
Polly Benson OTR/L is the creator of LegiLiners, “the patent pending, cool little tool to quickly draw handwriting lines”. Polly is a school based occupational therapists with many years experience working with students of all ages. The idea for LegiLiners grew from her love for helping students with functional handwriting. LegiLiners are available in in a variety of styles to help learners of all ages.
Jayne Berry, OTR/L is the author of Fine Motor Skills in the Classroom and creator of the Therapro Hand Tool Kit. Jane was a pediatric therapist who worked extensively with preschoolers and school aged children. The Therapro Hand Tool Kit contains all your “hand tools” in a convenient kit! Fine Motor Skills in the Classroom is a hand skills program developed as a tool to facilitate consultation in the classroom.
Diane Long, EdD, MOTR/L is the creator of the game Trunks. Dr. Diane Long is an associate professor and serves as the Chair of Occupational Therapy at Ithaca College. Trunks is an innovative game that targets working memory; players move their bodies, make sounds and perform actions from memory!
Marcia Bridgeman, MHA, OTR/L is the author of Fine Motor Olympics. Marcia has been a pediatric occupational therapist since 1977, specializing in school based services for students from preschool through 22. Fine Motor Olympics is a program designed for an occupational therapist to provide inclusive and consultative services to teachers, volunteers, parents, and staff.
What do the muscles of the core have to do with good handwriting? The simple answer is, a lot! The five main muscles of the core are the pyramidalis, rectus abdominus, external obliques, internal obliques, and transversus abdominis. These muscles are important for many day to day activities; for a deeper dive into this topic check out the free, recorded webinar Postural Control as a Base of Support for Upper Extremity Participation presented by Celine Rosati Skertich and Linda Merry. When it comes to handwriting, the core muscles are key to providing the stability from which our hands can work from. Without the stability provided by the core muscles, the arms would have difficulty positioning the hands and the hands would have difficulty holding writing utensils steadily. In order to make handwriting successful, it is important build a strong foundation from which students can work from! In this blog we will explore fun ways to develop and strengthen core musculature.
Adding dynamic movement to seated tasks, is a great way to build core muscle strength. There are a multitude of alternative seating options that allow for dynamic movement while sitting. Examples include, The AlertSeat, Kore Wobble Chairs, and therapy balls. For more information on this check out the blog post, Flexible Seating Options in The Classroom & Home Learning Environments. It is important to remember that using alternative seating to strengthening core muscles should be done during fun, non demanding activities such as watching a movie or playing an easy table game.
Scooter Board Fun
Scooter board activities are fun and engaging; depending on positioning, scooter board games can be a great way to strengthen either the front or the back core muscles.
Scooter board activities done while positioned on the stomach (‘superman position’; think belly down, arms and legs lifted and extended) are great for strengthening the extensor muscles. For a fun game try scooter board- bean bag tag. To play, players lay belly down on the scooter board with a set of beanbags on the scooter board directly under their chest (this encourages the extensor positioning). The goal of the game is to drop beanbags on opposing players’ backs. To do this they would use their arms to push their scooter to their opponent and then drop the beanbag on their opponent’s back.
Scooter board activities done while positioned on the back in the ‘tucked position’ (think knees in toward the chest, arms flexed, and head lifted) are a great way to target the flexor muscles. Scooter board monster stomp is a great example. To play, tape pictures of monsters (or anything of interest) to the wall, at a low level, 1-2 feet from the floor. The player lays on their back on the scooter board and assumes the ‘tucked’ position. The player’s teammate (or therapist) gently pushes the player to the first monster (a small push on the shoulders will usually do the trick!). The player’s job is to stomp the monster with his feet with enough force to propel him back to his teammate who will direct him to the next monster. Use caution here, this game takes a lot of strength! As soon as the player shows signs of fatigue (i.e. difficulty holding his head up) players should switch turns.
Balancing requires core stabilization, a great way to strengthen those muscles! A simple game of catch becomes a core strengthening challenge just by standing on a wobble board or air filled cushion. A core workout can be done while completing an obstacle course simply by adding a balance beam component or stepping stones. Another great option is to explore the many different yoga balance poses!
Handwriting is an intricate process that requires more than just putting pen to paper; the core muscles provide the essential stability from which our hands work off of. Building a strong foundation, before we put pen to paper, will increase handwriting success and lessen frustration.