This handwriting tool is a writing spacer that supports spatial awareness between letters and words. To make this writing tool we used simple craft materials of a pipe cleaner and a craft pom pom, but you could use any items. The best thing about this handwriting spacing tool is that kids can make it their own. Add this writing spacer to your list of ways to use pipe cleaners in occupational therapy…and ways to use craft pom poms in OT!
When it comes to legible handwriting, spatial awareness between letters and words makes a huge difference! One way to go about this use of space between words is using finger spacers for handwriting. However, this can become an issue when kids are self-conscious placing their fingers between each word. Also, for the left- handed writer, the spacing finger is in the way when the writing hand moves over to write the next word.
Whether you are a teacher in the classroom, a parent who is struggling to find the trick to get your child to write legibly, or a therapist working on the underlying skills needed for functional written work, you’ve probably noticed that when letters are smashed up against one another, it’s really hard to read what’s been written!
Stretching out spaces between words makes a huge difference in legibility. And there’s more; Using consistent spacing between letters can help with legibility too. In fact, there is great benefit to using toys to support spatial awareness to develop these skills.
That’s why we’re sharing this easy DIY handwriting spacer. It’s a do it yourself version that kids will take pride in making and using.
Many of us have used and love spacing tools made from craft sticks.
Handwriting Spacing Tool Craft
We actually have a few different options for making a writing tool to address spacing:
- This space man spacer tool is one with a space man theme.
- This craft stick spacing tool is very simple and has just a single visual cue to support visual tracking skills that play a role in spatial awareness.
- This clothes pin spacer is unique in that it can be attached to a pencil pouch, folder, or papers so students always know where it is. It can also be accessorized and personalized by the student. It’s also a nice clothespin pencil gripper.
Today, we’ve got a spacing tool that doesn’t use a craft stick…it’s another fun DIY spacing tool idea, but the difference is that this writing tool can be used to space between letters and between words.
Use a Pipe Cleaner for a Spacing Tool
This spacing tool uses items that you probably already have in the house or classroom. Kids can use their creative style in making their spacing tool and really make it their own. We used a few materials to make our spacing tools.
Materials needed to make a spacing tool:
- Pipe cleaners
- Craft pom poms (You could also use beads for a smaller space between words.)
This project is super simple to put together. Creating the DIY spacing tools is a nice fine motor warm up to writing, too!
If you are using a crafting pom pom like we did, use a smaller sized pom pom. A 1/4 inch crafting pom pom is a good size. Once the pipe cleaner is wrapped around the pom pom a couple of times, the size will increase.
- Wrap one end of the pipe cleaner around the craft pom pom several times so the pom pom is secure.
- A dab of craft glue can be used to secure the craft pom pom to the pipe cleaner, if you like.
You won’t want the top of the spacing tool to be too wide, otherwise the space between words will become too stretched.
A bead makes a nice spacer for spacing between words. Once the pipe cleaner is wrapped around the bead, there is a nice sized spacer for words.
And that’s all there is to it!
Use the spacing tool to space between words using the top of the space tool. The width of the pipe cleaner can be used to maintain a consistent space between letters.
These handwriting spacing tools can be as varied as the students in a classroom. Allow the kiddos to use creativity when making theirs. Bend pipe cleaners, add additional beads or other embellishments like ribbon or twine.
Students will be proud to show off (and use!) their spacing tool when practicing handwriting and spacing between letters and words!
Working on spacing in handwriting? Why not start a handwriting club for kids? Kids can work on handwriting skills in a fun way. Here’s how to start a handwriting club kids will WANT to join!
The Handwriting Book covers everything you need to know about handwriting, guided by development and focused on function. This digital resource is is the ultimate resource for tips, strategies, suggestions, and information to support handwriting development in kids.
The Handwriting Book breaks down the functional skill of handwriting into developmental areas. These include developmental progression of pre-writing strokes, fine motor skills, gross motor development, sensory considerations, and visual perceptual skills. Each section includes strategies and tips to improve these underlying areas.
- Strategies to address letter and number formation and reversals
- Ideas for combining handwriting and play
- Activities to practice handwriting skills at home
- Tips and strategies for the reluctant writer
- Tips to improve pencil grip
- Tips for sizing, spacing, and alignment with overall improved legibility
Colleen Beck, OTR/L has been an occupational therapist since 2000, working in school-based, hand therapy, outpatient peds, EI, and SNF. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. Read her story about going from an OT making $3/hour (after paying for kids’ childcare) to a full-time OT resource creator for millions of readers. Want to collaborate? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.