I vividly remember going to the store with my grandma to buy school supplies. Walking up and down the aisles looking for the best folders and pencils. Then taking all my new things home and organizing them into a pencil box and carefully placing them in my backpack.
New school supplies have always brought me so much happiness. As a school-based OT, I love starting the year with new crayons, pens (with caps), paper that isn’t bent/destroyed, and markers that aren’t half-dried out. New supplies always make the day a bit brighter. In this blog post, I will be sharing a few of my favorite must-have OT supplies for educators and students to have this fall!
School Supplies: Pencils & Grips
I feel like OTs and pencils become sort of synonymous in the school system. So here are my go-to recommendations for students!
I like golf pencils because:
- You can usually get them for free
- They are great for small hands!
I use golf pencils with my students that frequently grasp writing materials with a fisted grasp, the technical term is palmar grasp. The thought process is that a golf pencil has less room to use a whole fist. They are also beneficial because the smaller size makes it easier for smaller hands to coordinate → less bulky.
Grab some at IKEA next time you go or, as I do, ask your partner or FIL to grab some next time they go golfing! My FIL always makes sure I have a bunch to start the new school year!! Thank you, Peter!
I love these and I have my colleague Linda to thank! These pencils are great for older students who need some extra help with grasp patterns and also write with very light pressure. The thicker lead is the key! I also like these because it has the accommodation but looks like all the other pencils! Last year, I found some with superheroes decals that my students loved!
Have you seen these pencils before? They are a fun option to work on grasp patterns! I find they are a bit difficult to use with younger students because it is an unnatural placement. Try using them with Kindergarten or first-grade students! They also have thick lead so a great option for students to work on grading pressure.
Your index finger goes through the center and your thumb and middle finger pinch the slanted sides!
These pencil grips I only utilize for certain students. The grip is designed to bulk up a pencil, therefore the goal isn’t to utilize a precise grasp pattern it’s all about function. Use this grip for students who have low tone and have difficulty grasping smaller items. I had a lot of success using this grip with a student that had a medical diagnosis of Cerebral Palsy. he was able to hold the pencil independently to make his paper without increase difficulty.
I have also used this pencil grip to build up zippers on Jackets, backpacks, and AT carrying cases. They really helped a few of my students increase their independence and success! Love these!!
I like these grips for students who need more tactile placement cues because it has a designated slot for the index finger, middle finger, and thumb. A lot of grips you will find will not have a slot for the middle finger (finger that is going behind the pencil). I had a student with Down syndrome that had a lot of success with this grip! He was able to use a functional grasp vs a palmer/fist grasp!
One of my go-to grips for students. This one has less tactile structure but is super effective for students whole do need some more support with placement. My ideology is, if a student can’t independently place their fingers on a grip/use it correctly then it isn’t functional and not a practical solution.
My absolute favorite scissors for students learning how to cut! These are perfect for students learning how to snip and cut small vertical lines! Traditional loop scissors tend to be too big for small hands. The scissors aren’t as blunt as some child safety scissors on the market so always use them with close supervision.
If the above scissors aren’t in your price range and or you want to work more on finger placement with scissors look for something similar to these. What you want, is the piece that can flip forward to cause the scissors to spring forward when decompressed. Check out the Dollar Tree or at Target too!
Art School Supplies
You guys know I love Rock Crayons! I will promote this product until I can’t. A quality product that is also fun and functional! These crayons are great for students who try to fist/use a palmar grasp on ‘typical’ crayons. They are also sturdy for our students who might apply too much pressure. Plus, HELLO, they are super fun and my students love to engage with them. Check out this blog post on strength-based intervention and how I incorporate them into my sessions!
Crayola Pip-Squeaks are super fun! Like the golf pencils, the concept is similar, less marker to utilize a fisted grasp. They are also more functional/less bulky for small hands making them easier to coordinate. I bought these for my toddler daughter. She loves them!
I heard about this product a few years ago but had never bought them until recently. I got them for my daughter to switch up our materials during our creative craft time. Less mess than paint and easier to use. This product is great for students who apply little pressure when painting/coloring and the thickness makes them a little easier to grasp if a student has low tone.
Adapted paper should be tailored to each student. I use adapted paper to target a variety of skills:
- Letter sizing
- Letter formation
- Spacing between words
- Spacing between letters
- Overall organization (such as lining up math problems)
The right paper can truly make a difference for students of all ages. My husband prefers to write on graph paper vs notebook paper to organize his thoughts/ideas. Below are some of my favorites
I really like this brand. I have ordered directly off their website when wanting to buy in bulk. Try using this paper for beginner writers and use it to focus on letter formation. The colored lines give that quick visual where formation patterns should line up.
Sometimes I find paper with too many lines (skyline/worm line) is too much for some of my students. It’s too cluttered and overstimulating. This paper is pretty clear in my opinion. The nice thing about this paper too is it is a bit thicker.
This is a great brand of paper for students that need a bit of tactile input to help with formation patterns. The lines are raised, so when your pencil goes over the line, you get that immediate feedback. If your student is really struggling with formation/letter placement, this wouldn’t be my first suggestion to trial. This paper is great for young writers working on letter sizing.
Graph paper is an underrated product. Not only is it cheap but super effective for our students! I love using graph paper to help students with organization, such as lining up math problems and spacing. Each box represents a space for a letter, this accommodation provides an easy visualization for students who have difficulty with aspects of visual-motor skills. Check out my blog post where I go more in-depth about this!
You can buy graph paper on amazon or there are countless sites that you can make customize graph paper. This is really helpful because you can make the boxes bigger and increase the bold line!
I hope you found some great school supplies to utilize this Fall! Comment below your favorite must-haves school supplies to start the year!
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