When it comes to handwriting, copying without losing place on the page impacts writing (visual attention plays a big role here), so much so that a reading stick or writing stick tool can be a huge help. Here we are showing an easy way to make a reading stick or writing stick that can be used to impact writing without missing letters or words…and why this happens.
What is a Reading Stick
Handwriting is a challenge when spacing is inaccurate. Poorly spaced letters and words as a result of visual spatial difficulties can lead to illegible handwriting.
A reading stick is a pointer stick that kids can use to follow along with words when reading and writing.
When reading from a chalkboard or smartboard, a teacher might use a large pointer stick for this task. One tip for teachers is to add a bright visual cue to the end of the pointer stick to add a visual contrast that is engaging and visual. This might be something like bright tape added to the end of the pointer stick, neon tape or post-it notes folded over the tip of the pointer stick are some ways to easily do this.
But, when kids are reading and copying from a space on their desk, they can use a miniature version of the pointer stick as a reading tool. What’s nice about the version that we created is that the reading stick can be used in many different ways:
- Use the pointer stick with the visual cue at the end to point along with reading from a book.
- Turn the reading stick on it’s side to follow along line by line when reading.
- Use the craft stick as a spacing tool when writing.
Why use a reading stick for writing?
A writing stick is a handwriting tool that can also be called a pointer stick for handwriting. Students and teachers can use a writing stick to follow along with written work to support handwriting needs so that a student doesn’t miss letters or words when writing.
Copying handwriting work requires several areas of visual processing:
Using this pointer stick to copy words can help with copying written work without omitting letters or words. The reading stick then doubles as a spacing tool.
Using a spacing tool can be a HUGE help for some kids! This handwriting spacing tool pointer stick is a physical prompt and a visual cue that helps kids in handwriting and become independent with when writing.
There is a lot going on when a child is required to write. The visual motor skills needed to accurately copy or write written work requires the processing of visual perceptual skills along with coordination and manipulation of the pencil along lines and margins.
These are a lot of different areas that can break down and result in sloppy or illegible handwriting!
Use a spacing tool pointer stick to help with placing spaces between letters and words, assuring words, phrases, or sentences are not omitted, and when aligning columns of words, as in lists.
Handwriting Spacing Tool Pointer Stick
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Try using this spacing pointer stick to keep margins aligned too.
Looking for other ways to address spacing in margin use? Here are a bunch of ideas for spatial awareness with margins.
You will need just two materials to make a spacing pointer stick:
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- Craft sticks
- A marker (a scented, Mr. Sketch marker is fun!)
Use the marker to make a brightly colored dot on one end of the craft stick. You could also use a small sticker, but I wanted to ensure a bright contrast between the colored craft stick and the colored dot.
And that’s it! Show the child how to use it to keep their place when copying written work, when aligning margins, and when spacing between words.
Use the spacing tool pointer stick to help kids with spatial awareness in these ways:
- Point to words when copying from a text or sheet on a desk. The pointer stick can help keep the child’s place, visually.
- Align columns in math and lists of words.
- Align left and right margins on the page. Keep the margin from drifting in toward the middle of the page.
- Space between letters and words when writing.
Read more about spatial awareness and how it relates to handwriting.
Some spacing tools can be themed! Go beyond the simple dot or sticker and make a spaceman spacing tool. You can also use a clothespin tool for spacing between words when writing. Finally, this writing spacer craft is another handwriting craft kids can make.
Another great way to add hands-on play to spatial awareness is an activity like these spacing puzzles.
Need more handwriting strategies?
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