DC Phone: 202-544-5439
VA Phone: 703-243-4601
Fax: 202-379-1797

Welcome to our November 2017 Newsletter! We are pleased to share fresh OT-related topics and activity ideas for families, teachers, and our colleagues.

This month, we will review the collective function of several body parts that are involved in writing. Here, we will explain how trunk, shoulders, elbows, wrists, and fingers work together to accomplish an activity that requires precision, fine motor coordination, stability, and mobility. We will also explain the developmental progression of motor milestones.

Additionally, we will teach you how to create your own "STICKY SAND (or kinetic sand)" , which is great for indoor play . We also conclude our series of " Fine Motor Exercises" that aim to develop better handwriting skills and fine motor development.

Enjoy reading!


Kristen Masci and the SOTH Staff

Newsletter November 2017 Issue
Developmental Progression of motor milestones

Hand development and fine motor skills directly impact handwriting. The picture below illustrates the acquisition of motor milestones that develop in every child. It also depicts the sequence of advancement in terms of stability, mobility, and muscle tone.
Prone (on the stomach) ► Pushing up on the forearms/neck extension ► Rolling from stomach to the back/back to the stomach ►Sitting unsupported ►Moving around by alternating between sitting/extending arms/side sitting/scooting ► Holding quadruped (on all fours in preparation for crawling) ► Crawling ► Pulling to stand ► Cruising by holding on and side stepping ► Standing ► Walking!

Stability enables mobility
Through contraction of the trunk muscles, we are able to stand and sit upright and maintain balance when we are still and when moving such as when running, hopping, or walking along a balance beam.

Stability is needed through the trunk so that the arms and legs can move in a smooth and controlled manner (climbing, throwing/catching, writing/drawing). Within each extremity, there must be stability within a joint in order for controlled movement to occur beyond that joint (further away from the trunk).  

For a child to be able to handle a pencil and to be able to draw a circle: the trunk needs to be stable (contraction of trunk muscles), the shoulder has to be stable (contraction of the shoulder girdle), the forearm must be stabilized against the writing surface, and the wrist needs to be stabilized in order for the finger muscles to move the pencil.  In addition, the ankles, knees, and hips should all be at a 90 degree angle (this means the feet should be able to touch the floor!)

Use a turkey baster or nasal aspirator to blow corks, feathers, or ping pong balls back and forth. These can also be used to squirt water to move floating object/toys.
Tear pieces of construction paper into small pieces and paste the different colors of paper on simple picture from a coloring book, or make your own design
Floor activities - large mural painting, floor puzzles, coloring when lying on stomach on floor.
Dot-dots, color by number, mazes
Wheelbarrow walking-child's hands use tongs to pick up and place objects on floor.
Finger play/string games such as Cat's Cradle.
Use tongs/tweezers to pick up blocks/small objects.
Pennies into piggy back or slot cut in plastic lid. Coins can also be put into slots cut in foam.
Working at a vertical surface, especially above eye level. Activities can be mounted on a clip board or tapes to surface or chalkboard/easel. Examples: pegboards, Lite Brite, Etch-a-sketch (upside down), Magna doodle, outlining, coloring, painting, writing.
Use a clothespin to do finger "push-ups" by using the pads of the thumb and index finger to open a clothespin and count repetitions.
Squirrel objects into palm (pick up with index finger and thumb, move into palm without using the other hand)
Squeeze sponges to wash off table, clean windows, shower, etc.
"Starting a Conversation with your OT"
"Three P's of Handwriting"
PENCIL - Hold the pencil properly

One of the most common problems occupational therapists in the school are consulted about is improper pencil grasp. While the most efficient way to hold a pencil is the dynamic tripod grasp, other patterns are commonly seen in children and it does not always require intervention or modification.

There are a variety of reasons why children hold their pencils in patterns other than the dynamic tripod. One common reason is participating in a lot of writing before their hands are developmentally ready for this activity. This is becoming more and more common as parents try to start preparing children to school with writing activities at an earlier stage.

A grasp does not have to be three-fingered to be efficient or functional. What we are really looking for is the open “web” space between the index finger and thumb and having the pencil held at an angle which tells us the fingers are guiding the pencil. When there is no space and the thumb either overlaps the index finger or is tucked under the index finger, this tells us that the whole hand is guiding pencil movement which leads to hand fatigue.

PAPER - The paper should be directly in front of the body and slightly tilted (under 45 degrees) so it is parallel with the forearm that is writing. Sometimes colored tape can help the child line up the paper properly.
POSTURE - The student should be sitting with his/her back flat against the seat of the chair, feet flat on the floor, and hips, knees, and ankles at 90 degrees. The forearms should be resting on the desk. The top of the desk should be approximately 2 inches above the elbows when the arms are at the student's side.
"Sticky Sand"
(or Sand cloud dough)

Sticky Sand or Kinetic sand is very popular these days. It stays moist and moldable but does not stick to hands. Exploring it can calm the hands and slow down a fidgety kid. It is easy to use and to clean up.

Sticky sand is safe for sensory play. It won't dry out so you can keep it for a long period of time.

Note: Supervise kids when they are playing.
Materials required:

  • 5 cups of play sand

  • 3 cups of all purpose flour

  • 1 cup vegetable oil

Combine the above ingredients in a bin or container and mix well.

That's it! Easy and Fun!
SOTH gives back to the community
Skills on the Hill is a proud sponsor of Arlington's 12-U SAGE softball team.


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Thank you parents and families! We appreciate your support.

Kristen Masci 
(202) 544 5439 / (703) 243 4601
Capitol Hill Office
405 8th St, NE
Washington, DC 20002

Arlington Office
3508 Lee Hwy
Arlington, VA 22207