Handwriting trays are a creative way to make handwriting fun! This is a great way to incorporate a multi-sensory approach to address handwriting goals. Handwriting trays help children learn to write letters, numbers, and pre-writing lines and shapes.
There are many ways to use a writing tray. You can use your finger, pencil, paintbrush, etc. You can also use wet material or dry material.
Materials to Use:
**Things I have personally used in my sensory writing trays**
- Shaving cream
You can get creative and add any kind of material you would like! The main thing to keep in mind is using material that is moveable to form letters easily.
I typically follow certain themes for each week; therefore, I make alphabet-themed visuals for the children to use. I have made Easter egg letters, Valentine's Day letters, snowflake letters, etc. This way the child can choose one letter, and we can focus on writing that letter. I like to keep pencil and paper nearby and tell my kids, “First, we will write in the sensory bin. Then, we will write on paper.” This is a great way to practice on multiple surfaces with various types of tactile input being provided.
This is a great time to focus on stroke sequence and proper letter formation when forming letters, such as forming letters from top to bottom.
Handwriting sensory trays can be used for a wide range of ages. I could use a sensory tray with a 2-year-old to address prewriting lines or grade the activity up to work on writing sight words with a 1st grader.
Fine Motor Skills:
Another very important part of using a sensory bin is using the hands and fingers to focus on fine motor skills. If using fingers, it is important to cue the child to use his/her index finger to complete the handwriting task to address finger isolation skills, as well as focus on separation of the two sides of the hand.
Grasp Pattern with a Writing Utensil:
If using a paintbrush or pencil to complete writing, this is a great opportunity to focus on the development of pencil grasp. Make sure the child is using his/her thumb, index finger, and middle finger to promote a tripod grasp pattern.
Materials Needed for Your At-Home Sensory Bin:
- Choose your filler of choice
- Use a cake pan, tray, or food container
- Choose if you want to use your fingers or a writing tool
-Krystan Inman, COTA/L