This is our second purchase from fdmt.ca. As I mentioned previous, most of V’s materials can come from discount or dollar stores but the Grotto Grip was another exception. Our OT recommended it because it attaches to his pencil, marker, crayon, etc to help him maintain a proper grip. There were a few grips she considered for him but did eventually decide that the three-point grip would be the most beneficial. She let us know that a few stores in our area did carry a version of this particular grip, but she’d found they didn’t work quite as well for children with fine motor issues and since we’d be ordering the scissors anyways….might as well add some more!
I was really excited to see how these worked with V because, as a general rule, he HATES to colour or draw. He would scribble as fast as he could, and then tell you he was done. If you wanted to pull out some colouring books his attention span would last for all of about 5 minutes before he was running around again. This may have led to some speculation in the past that he had behavioural issues, however now that he’s been properly diagnosed we know that it was purely frustration and boredom. How much do you like being force to do something you’re not good at or find incredibly hard? Can’t blame a pre-schooler for letting his feelings be known! Anyway, I was excited to try them out and see what type of change it would make in both his skills and his attitude.
Here is a highlight of what our pencil grip/pre-writing program looks like.
Stabilizer (dice, large bead, etc)
How It Works:
It slides onto the pencil/pen/marker etc near the tip and is essentially a plastic mold that, for all intents and purposes, forces, his hand into the proper grip with his thumb and forefinger ‘pinching’ the sides of the instrument and a cradle for his middle finger just below. We keep his other two ‘stabilizing’ fingers busy by holding the same object he would for any of our ‘pencil grasp’ OT exercises.
- Connect the Dots
V’s OT told us that ‘Connect The Dots’ puzzles and mazes are amazing activities for children with fine motor issues. They make them practice drawing firm, straight lines as well as constantly changing angles and adjusting their grip. V loves them so we’ll pick one a day to do together. It’s also a great way to practice his numbers and counting!
V is also practising his grip by learning to colour inside the lines and switching his grip between different coloured pencils. We usually colour our ‘Connect The Dot’ picture once we’ve completed the first part! V has about 4 different colouring books in his OT kit so he gets to choose which one he’d like to do for that day.
- Pre-Writing Activities
V isn’t at this point yet since we’re still trying to get him practising his grip but we will eventually move into repeating the tracing/copy activities from his OT assessment. V will practice tracing and drawing simple finite shapes like X, T, O, squares, triangles etc.
- Writing and Letter Tracing
Also not an exercise we’re doing right now but V will also soon start tracing his letters in workbooks and trying to write his own name! We have to keep the end goal in mind here!
- We purchased 4 Grotto Grips from the website. 2 are for home use and 2 will be sent to school, labelled, for V to use when they are doing any drawing/writing lessons there.
- Make sure you continue to use a stabilizer for all of the writing activities. Just because your child has the grip for the first three fingers, they also need to learn to use the other two to help stabilize their hand as they go.
- Encourage your child to use their other hand to hold the paper and move it along as they draw/write. Part of the writing skill is using their hands cooperatively!
- Choice is important! Have a variety of workbooks/activities for your child. Again, it’s all about getting that buy in to produce the sense of control and the feeling of success!
- Invest in some magnets! V loves the ability to display his work on the fridge when he does a new, exciting activity! Pride in their work is important especially when learning new skills.
I can’t say enough great things about this tool! Even after 3-4 days of use I can already see a HUGE improvement in V’s grip and his abilities. He knows how to hold the pencil with confidence and is able to exert more pressure as he makes his marks. His lines are darker, straighter and more firm. He can also colour much close to the lines, tries to colour in smaller shapes and will actually sit and colour for more than 5 minutes at a time! He is rarely drop his stabilizer now and he looks forward to our craft time each day. As least from my end the Grotto Grip is highly recommended!!