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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

"Darth Vader Death Grip"

Right now you are probably thinking---What? What kind of site am I in? I thought this was a preschool site. Well, you have not been directed to a wrong site. This post is all about the grip a child uses on their writing utensil.

I titled this Darth Vader Death Grip, because that's the phrase my aide uses to explain how some children hold their crayon. You know, they grab it in their fist with such force there is a possibility the crayon will crush in their hand.

The school district we are in holds seminars for preschool teachers so that we can sort of be on the same page. One year was dedicated to pencil grip--for a whole year the district's motto was, "Give me three!"

We all know that using our pointer finger, middle finger, and thumb are the correct digits to use when writing, but getting some children to do this is quite difficult. There are special pencil grips that one can purchase to put on a writing utensil, but there are a couple of other methods too.

Last year we had an occupational therapist in our room once a week that worked with a specific child. He always asked the child, "Where are your quackers?" This was when the child would take the two fingers and thumb, and make them "quack" like a duck--to symbolize the fingers that should be used.

Another method the district gave us was to use the "magic pom pom.' The child would hold a small pom pom--like a cotton ball--in their hand with their ring finger and pinkie, leaving the other three fingers to hold the writing utensil.

They also said you could break a crayon in half, or cut a pencil in half to make the writing utensil smaller. When the object is smaller, there is less of a chance for children to be able to hold the item with the "death grip."

Do these methods work? Well, we just started our new year and the child with the occupational therapist still needs to be asked where his quackers are. I don't have any real secrets on how to get the grip correct, but I think you just have to keep at it and keep using a positive correction when they are writing. I wouldn't stress on this though. Out of my 5 children, I have two, plus one husband, that still don't hold their pencil correctly.

I just thought I would put out some ideas that were given to us that may help someone looking for some guidance in this area.

This year we are starting to use the program Handwriting without Tears. We are very new to this method and are still learning many aspects of it. I'll try to remember at the end of the year to let you know how it went.

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Teacher Sheryl said...

I spent quite a bit of time over the summer reading about fine motor skills and pencil grips through the eyes of an occupational therapist. It was very interesting! I've purchased strawberry hullers and several other types of tongs, finger crayons, stubby paint brushes, and stubby chalk to name a few. These are supposed to help. I've also read that putting an activity upright helps put the wrist in a better position, too. Right now most of my 3's are doing the "Darth Vader Death Grip" and I loved how you described it because it's so true!

Preschool Playbook said...

I would be very intersted to know if all the little extra's that you purchased help with this. It seems like such a big area that education is working on right now--would love to make sure I have everything or anything that would help them to succeed. Thanks so much! Hope your year is going well so far.

Juliann said...

We just had this discussion with our therapists too and one other thing they suggested was to have children draw lines and shapes for a long time before asking them to write letters because sometimes they want to make the letters so badly that they develop a grip that is hard to break

SimplyDenyse said...

i loke the grips very neat