Sandpaper Letter Formation Trick

This easy handwriting trick uses an item you probably have in the workshop or garage of your house. Sometimes, a creative technique is all it takes to help kids work on letter formation and line awareness in their handwriting.  We used sand paper to provide proprioceptive feedback through the pencil while working on handwriting skills that might be difficult for some kids on regular paper.


This trick is a fun pencil control activity that is helpful for improving handwriting.


Scroll to the bottom to watch this Sandpaper Handwriting Trick. 



Use sandpaper as a strategy for helping kids to learn how to make letters, number formation, letter formation, spatial awareness, and line awareness in handwriting with a sensory, tactile, and proprioception activity.



Sandpaper Writing Activity



This post contains affiliate links.


Sandpaper might be considered a super tool in the Occupational Therapist’s therapy bag.  It’s a great medium for working on handwriting in several areas:  Using sandpaper as a base sheet when writing provides a surface for feedback through the hand.  This is one easy way to help kids who need to work on pencil pressure.


Read more about helping kids to write with appropriate pencil pressure.


This is such an easy trick for helping kids to work on letter formation, number formation, letter reversals, and organizational issues such as line placement (aka writing on the lines and in the spaces on worksheets).


All you need is a single sheet of sandpaper.  


With kids, sometimes a small twist on what you’ve been doing is all that you need to get the hours of practice to finally “stick”.  You might have been working on letter or number formation over and over again in a bunch of different ways.  The chalkboard, the white board, the fun pencil, writing in the sand bin…but give the kiddo a piece of paper and the letters are choppy, poorly formed, and all over the lines.


What is a mom/teacher/OT to do?  


Some kids respond well to repetition.  Motor planning is a good thing when it comes to letter formation or number formation!  However, other kids work well with all of the tricks but just can’t carryover the skills they’ve learned once they are required to write quickly or write an open-ended response (aka think while writing).


This sandpaper writing trick is one strategy that can help kids slow down, respond to tactile sensory input, and modify their pencil control given proprioceptive feedback.  


Here’s how it works:
Simply lay a piece of paper on top of a sheet of sandpaper.  And then write.


The sandy grit of sandpaper provides feedback through the pencil and allows kids to slow down, write with better pencil pressure, and be more aware of how their pencil is moving in the space they have to write in. 


Sandpaper provides a great proprioceptive strategy for handwriting. Different kids will respond to different grades of sandpaper.  This pack comes in an assortment of grades so that you can try more or less “sandiness” to the paper. A coarse grit will provide more feedback and a fine grit will provide less sensory input.  


Watch the video to get a better understanding of how to complete this activity. Show it to the kiddos, too!




Use sandpaper as a strategy for helping kids to learn how to make letters, number formation, letter formation, spatial awareness, and line awareness in handwriting with a sensory, tactile, and proprioception activity.

This is a great trick to use with workbooks.  Use several colors of colored pencils to practice letter or number formation with rainbow writing.  Simply trace over the letters with different colors to practice letter formation.


Using a sheet of sandpaper under a worksheet can allow for improved placement in a writing space by encouraging the child to slow down while writing. 


Try writing right on the sandpaper with colored pencils to really add a tactile strategy to letter formation.  Try placing starting dots along with verbal or visual cues to form the letter correctly.  The tactile feedback will add a “memory” to forming the letter. 


Use sandpaper as a strategy for helping kids to learn how to make letters, number formation, letter formation, spatial awareness, and line awareness in handwriting with a sensory, tactile, and proprioception activity.

This is a great strategy for helping kids to address letter reversals.

Use sandpaper as a strategy for helping kids to learn how to make letters, number formation, letter formation, spatial awareness, and line awareness in handwriting with a sensory, tactile, and proprioception activity.

One last way to use sandpaper in handwriting is to draw lines on the sandpaper and ask the child to write on the lines with colored pencils.  While this is not a practical strategy for written work, it’s a great way to practice line awareness and spatial organization skills.  Once the sandpaper is filled up with writing, use it as a base for placing paper on top.  


MORE ways to practice handwriting using sandpaper:

Try using these Pencil Mazes over the sandpaper to work on pencil control.
Work on pencil control and accuracy with Pencil Obstacle Courses

Use sandpaper as a strategy for helping kids to learn how to make letters, number formation, letter formation, spatial awareness, and line awareness in handwriting with a sensory, tactile, and proprioception activity.



Like this handwriting tip?  Try all of the strategies in our Easy Quick Fixes to Better Handwriting series. Be sure to check out all of the easy handwriting tips in this month’s series and stop back often to see them all.  


Watch the video on this Sandpaper Handwriting Trick:



You’ll also want to join the Sweet Ideas for Handwriting Practice Facebook group for more handwriting tips and tools.

Friendship Gross Motor Activity

friendship activity for preschool

This ice cream gross motor activity is also a fun friendship gross motor activity too! In fact, movement games are a great way to build friendship and establish relationships, especially when team building and problem solving are involved.  Here, you’ll find an ice cream bean bag activity that challenges not only core strength, movement patterns, and motor planning (with an ice cream theme!) but also is a fun friendship activity for a group.

The friendship gross motor activities here are bean bag games that would fit nicely with a movement gross motor activity because it’s just another way to improve core strengthening.

The friendship theme is a bonus, making it a fun friendship activity for preschoolers and younger kids developing from parallel play to associative play to cooperative play.

Use this ice cream therapy activity to add a movement break in the classroom, a creative ice breaker game for a group of new friends, and a playful ways to promote friendship with movement.  

And even better, bean bag games improve core strengthening through whole body movement and these friendship themed games are one that will build memories.

Friendship theme gross motor bean bag activity for kids in preschool, classroom.

Affiliate links are included in this post.

Gross Motor Core Strengthening ActivitY

Building core strength is important for so many reasons: attention, focus, and positioning are just a few reasons to strengthen the core.  Read more about core strengthening and attention here

Use bean bag games in Friendship Activities

There are several reasons why bean bag games are a great addition to any kids’ day. These are the underlying reasons why you’ll see bean bag activities in therapy. But, also bean bag games can be beneficial as a gross motor friendship activity, too.

  • Bean bag games are a great movement and core strengthening activity.
  • They are an easy way to add a movement brain break to classroom activities. 
  • Movement games foster friendship and invite conversation in groups like classrooms, youth groups, play dates, and birthday parties.
  • Bean bag games offer repetition with heavy work, adding proprioception for a calming and organizing activity.
  • Bean bag games offer an opportunity for gross motor visual motor integration skill work, which is necessary for developing the skills needed for handwriting, reading, and learning.
  • Bean bag games allow a child to build core muscle strength.
  • Group games with bean bags build problem solving and group interactions.

For our gross motor friendship activity, we attempted to build core muscle strength through repetition of core muscle building, using a gross motor ice cream theme.  

This would be a good activity for a group setting, however, you could definitely do this activity individually as well.    

We used the ice cream bean bags that we made last summer.  Read more about how to make the ice cream cone bean bags here.    

While any bean bags would work for these friendship movement activities, we used what we had in the house, and they went perfectly with our book for this week, Mo Willems’ Should I Share My Ice Cream.  (Tell me, are your kids as Elephant and Piggy obsessed as mine are???)  

Gross Motor Friendship Ideas

Line up your group of kids.  We played a few different games and they all involved FUN!

  1. Bean Bag Slide– Kids can line up side by side, facing in the same direction. Start with all of the bean bags to the left side of one child.  The first child should reach down and grab one bean bag. They can then slide the bean bag on the floor between their legs, placing it behind them.  The child to their right should lean down and grab the bean bag between their legs.  They can then place the bean bag on the floor in front of their feet.  The child to their right can grab the bean bag and continue it down the line of kids.
  1. Bean Bag Over Head– Kids can sit on the ground one in front of the other.  The bean bags should begin in a pile in front of the first child.  That child can pick up one bean bag and place it over their head to pass it to the next child behind them. That child can grab the bean bag and pass it over their head to the child behind them. Continue down the line.

2. Bean Bag Side to Side– Kids can sit in a line behind one another. The kids should pass bean bags down the line by twisting at the core to rotate their trunk. Continue the bean bag pass down the line.

3. Bean Bag Toss– Kids should line up in a line by standing up a few feet from one another.  One child should pass one bean bag to the next student by tossing a low toss to the next child.  Try to keep the bean bag close to the ground but not touching the ground. Continue to pass bean bags down the line. 

4. Bean Bag Foot Pass– Kids can lie on their backs in a line.  The fist child should use only their feet to pick up one bean bag and pass it to the next child. That child should grab the bean bag using only their feet.  Continue all of the bean bags down the line.

Each of these games can be done in a line or in a circle.  

Friendship activities for preschoolers including a Gross motor bean bag game for a group with a friendship theme.

friendship activity for preschoolers

By playing a group game, children can build friendships, foster relationships, problem solve, resolve conflicts, learn from others, and establish many other powerful developmental benefits of group activities.  

For this friendship gross motor activity, we first, read one of our favorite Elephant and Piggy books, Should I Share My Ice Cream.  We then used our ice cream bean bags to play a friendship game together.  As we passed the ice cream bean bags, we shared ways to be helpful.  

Sharing with a friend is just one way to be nice to a friend.  Being helpful at school, making a nice card, or inviting a friend to play are other ways to be nice to a friend. As we passed the bean bags to one another, saying these qualities of a friend allowed us to slow down in the bean bag passing game.  

This way, we could build muscle strength with slow movements.   

While we used the ice cream bean bags, you could read the book and  use any bean bags in your gross motor friendship activity!   What are your favorite bean bag games?  

Want more friendship activities for preschoolers?

In the resource, Exploring Books Through Play, you’ll do just that.

This digital, E-BOOK download is an amazing resource for anyone helping kids learn about acceptance, empathy, compassion, and friendship. In Exploring Books through Play, you’ll find therapist-approved resources, activities, crafts, projects, and play ideas based on 10 popular children’s books. Each book covered contains activities designed to develop fine motor skills, gross motor skills, sensory exploration, handwriting, and more. Help kids understand complex topics of social/emotional skills, empathy, compassion, and friendship through books and hands-on play.

Click here to get your copy of Exploring Books Through Play.

Friendship themed bean bag activity for gross motor core strengthening exercise

Check out more Friendship themed activities based on Should I Share My Ice Cream? Simple Friendship Concentration Game from Toddler Approved Spelling Names Ice-Cream Centre from Still Playing School Kind Words Sensory lesson from Preschool Powol Packets Listening Games with Elephant and Piggie from Inspiration Laboratories Making Pumpkin Ice-Cream with Friends from The Educators’ Spin On It Cupcake Cones from Kori at Home Friendship Ice-Cream is a Fun Way to Practice Sharing from Mama Smiles How to Make a Catapult from JDaniel4’s Mom Paper Tube Friendship Bracelets from Clare’s Little Tots How to Make Colour Mixing Ice-Cream from Peakle Pie How to make Happy Faces in a Sand Tray from Big Owl, Little Owl, Whitty Hoots Share the Ice-Cream Fine Motor Game from Views from a Step Stool Pass the Ice-Cream Sharing Activity for Preschoolers from Sunny Day Family Friendship Ice Cream Throw from Adventures of Adam Build 2D and 3D Ice Cream Cones with Friends from Kara Carrero Piggie and Elephant Shape Sorting Activity from Mosswood Connection

Colleen Beck, OTR/L is an occupational therapist with 20 years experience, graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 2000. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. As the creator, author, and owner of the website and its social media channels, Colleen strives to empower those serving kids of all levels and needs. Want to collaborate? Send an email to contact@theottoolbox.com.

 

 
 
 

Pencil Pressure Simple Handwriting Trick

We’ve shared a few different ideas on how to teach kids to write with appropriate pencil pressure.  Sometimes, a different trick that you pull from your therapy sleeve is all it takes for a skill to “click” and handwriting to get a notch up on the legibility scale.  This super simple trick is one that you can probably use today if you’ve got the right time in your craft bin.  If not, all it will take is a quick run out to the dollar store to get the kids writing with better letter formation and with better pencil pressure!

Easy trick for helping kids to write with appropriate pencil pressure and letter formation.

Pencil Pressure and Letter Formation Quick Tip


This post contains affiliate links. 

When teaching kids to write with appropriate pencil pressure, there are a bunch of ways to go about it.  This one trick might just be the one that makes all of that instruction and cues stick. There is only one item that you’ll need for this simple handwriting trick (besides a piece of paper and a pencil!)


You can get one at the dollar store if you don’t have one in your crafting supply closet, but if you are trying to supply the whole classroom with this handwriting practice activity, this bulk purchase would be a better option. 

Easy trick for helping kids to write with appropriate pencil pressure and letter formation.
We also used a clipboard for our writing activity, but just writing on the desk or a table top surface would be fine too.

To practice pencil pressure with letter formation, place a piece of writing paper on top of the foam sheet.  And that’s it!

Easy trick for helping kids to write with appropriate pencil pressure and letter formation.
When you write on the paper over the foam sheet, kids get immediate feedback about the amount of pressure they are pushing through the pencil.  If you press too hard on the pencil when forming letters, the pencil point will press right through the paper into the foam.  If you write too lightly with the pencil, the letters will not show up on the paper. 

Pretty cool, right?


Easy trick for helping kids to write with appropriate pencil pressure and letter formation.
Easy trick for helping kids to write with appropriate pencil pressure and letter formation.

So how does this activity help with letter formation?


Kids learn to write with the pencil using appropriate pencil pressure.  When kids are pressing too hard or too lightly, they are seeking out sensory input with formation of the letters.  The foamy surface requires a slower speed to complete written work and slows letter formation.  Kids can receive sensory input from the surface of the foam sheet with resistance.  That resistance in letter formation can help kids learn the motor plan for those slow and more appropriate letter formation.

This activity might not work for all students, but it is one more trick to have in your therapy bag!

Try these resistive surfaces for practicing letter formation:


This post is part of our Easy Quick Fixes to Better Handwriting series. Be sure to check out all of the easy handwriting tips in this month’s series and stop back often to see them all.  

You’ll also want to join the Sweet Ideas for Handwriting Practice Facebook group for more handwriting tips and tools.
Easy trick for helping kids to write with appropriate pencil pressure and letter formation.