Use of our products and what do they do?

Pencil Grips - Why would a child need a pencil grip? A child might need a pencil grip in order to assist him in grasping the pencil correctly and in order to adjust his grip into a more correct position.

So why do children grasp their pencils incorrectly, and what exactly is the correct way to hold a pencil?

Some background information…A child should begin to grasp his pencil using the correct pencil grip from about the age of four years, and should have a consistently good pencil grasp by around five years of age. The child should also begin to show a preferred or dominant hand at this age as well. Before this age, the toddler or preschooler would first use a fisted grip and then might later use a fisted grip with the index finger pointing down the pencil shaft. At this age, it would therefore be important for them to use chunky waxy crayons or thick pencils such as the Lyra Groove Triple 1 Preschooler Tripod Coloured Pencils. Using thick triangular pencils of this nature can assist immensely providing the appropriate sensory feedback for the child to develop the correct pencil grip. It is also most important that the child’s intrinsic hand muscles are strong, as weak hand and finger muscles make it really difficult for the child to develop a correct grasp. Activities that can assist in strengthening hands and fingers include mixing, moulding, and shaping playdough. The Giotto Be-Bè Playdough Machine offers a load of fun ways to strengthen little hand muscles! Mixing, squeezing, and shaping Playdough can also go a long way to strengthening hands and fingers. Using Syringes, playdough Cookie Stampers, and other resisted activity tools can also be of value. Children can also have fun mixing and moulding Giotto Patplume Modelling Dough, the revolutionary, soft, pliable dough that never dries out! Take two small pieces of Patplume dough and mix them together using your fingertips. Create a whole spectrum of amazing colours using the ten different shades of Patplume dough. Mould the dough to create 3-D shapes. This amazing soft dough can be used to colour in a picture by pressing the Patplume dough onto the page. The child can drag the Patplume dough across the page by pressing his finger down onto the dough and pushing it across the paper. This is a novel way to colour in, and the dough doesn’t dry out. (This means that you could even scrape it off and use it again! Not that you would want to scrap a beautiful creation!)

Strengthening of the thumb, middle, and index fingers, is particularly important for developing a good pencil grasp. So too, is the development of good neck, trunk, and shoulder control, but that’s a topic for another day. So what can you do to develop the strength in these “pinchy fingers”? Peeling off tiny stickers to make Mosaic Pictures, and holding and rubbing a coin to scratch Magic Pictures are great ways of developing strength in these fingers. As strength is developed, the muscles forming the arch between the thumb and index fingers are developed. Being able to keep this arch space open while grasping a pencil is one of the key features of a well-development tripod pencil grip. The pencil should be held between the thumb, index, and middle fingers (a tripod grasp) and the ring finger can also be involved to in a quadrupod pencil grasp. When the webspace between the thumb and index finger is held open – meaning that there is a space between the pencil and this arch - there is dynamic flexibility in the pencil grasp, and the child is better able to manoeuver and manipulate the pencil as he makes tiny circular scribbles, carefully colours in tiny spaces, or accurately forms letters in cursive script.

So, what can go wrong?

The child might wrap his thumb around and over the pencil, resulting in a closed thumb webspace and a most inflexible pencil grasp. The Crossover Pencil Grip is a great invention that prevents the thumb from wrapping over the index finger.

The child might not get his fingers into the correct place on the pencil. The Claw Pencil Grip and the Stetro Pencil Grip can make a real difference here. The Soft Triangular Rubber Pencil Grip also makes grasping a pencil so much easier as each of the three fingers involved in grasping have their own surface on the pencil grip.  The Pencil Grip has a soft gummy texture and this texture is very comforting and organising for the child to hold. Its contoured triangular shape makes it easy to hold. Preschoolers can use the Jumbo version of this pencil. All of Sensory Stuff’s pencil grips have a lovely gummy or rubbery texture and this makes them comforting to hold. Their texture could also offer organising input for the child as he uses the grip while drawing or writing.

Do I buy a Disc 'o' Sit or Movin' Sit?

Teachers often suggest to a parent that their child is inclined to be restless in class or during ring time and that they might benefit from using a Disc 'o' Sit cushion or an inflated wedge cushion. There is often confusion about which type of cushion to get for the child, and also what size cushion to get. Let’s clear up the size issue first. In the case of both of these products, the size that you would get would depend on the size of the seat of the chair. A small seat would only fit a Disc 'o' Sit Junior cushion or a Movin’ Sit Junior cushion, while a larger seat would fit an adult one.

If the child tends to slide into his chair and adopts a sacral sitting position, it would help if he sat on a wedge inflated cushion, such as the Movin’ Sit cushion. Both these cushions offer a certain degree of movement input as the child can make subtle postural shifts and postural adjustments as he is sitting. It is important not to inflate the cushion too much, as this will reduce the amount of weight shift possible.

Of course, sitting on them is not the only thing that these two inflatable cushions are good for. The Disc 'o' Sit cushion is great for standing on while holding your balance. Yes, adults and children can use it to stand on while holding their balance. It gives a great ankle work-out and certainly works core muscles too! Get your youngster to stand on either the large or the small Disc 'o' Sit cushion while throwing and catching a ball or one of our many beanbags, gym rings, or Aku Rings. Standing on the smaller Disc 'o' Sit requires way more balance skill than balancing on the adult one, but they are both quite challenging!  Standing on the Movin’ Sit to play a ball activity, with the heels at the thin end offers a great stretch for calf muscles. Be sure to maintain a good upright posture while doing this, as it will be tempting to simply bend at the hips to accommodate for tight calf muscles!