Handwriting practice for kids can be boring but with my ‘fortune jar’ technique you can motivate children to write by adding a little surprise and fun!
Have you ever found yourself sitting around New Year time wondering whether it is worthwhile to create some new year’s resolutions? That is exactly what happened to me this January. However rather than the usual press coverage about the success and failures of making resolutions I was hearing far more about the concept of creating a ‘Book of Awesome’. This is where you write down positive comments that have been made to you over the year. The idea is that you refer to this book whenever you’re feeling a little low.
Around the same time, I came to realise that many of the children that I see for handwriting practice struggle to open jam jars. Their handwriting difficulties were more than that, some had difficulty with basic life skills. To an outsider, it may have looked as if they had the hand skills. In reality, they were going through the motions but were struggling to open all different types of containers.
The outcome has been one of the most enjoyable and successful motivators that I have seen with these children, it really does motivate children to write!
Knowing that children with handwriting difficulties often feel low, frustrated, annoyed and alone I decided to use the concept of creating a book of awesome within my occupational therapy sessions. The outcome has been one of the most enjoyable and successful motivators that I have seen with these children, it really does motivate children to write!
This blog post will show you what you can do and what I have learnt since introducing a fortune jar.
How to motivate children to write with my ‘fortune jar’ technique:
Firstly, find yourself a container
It can be made from plastic or glass, you are looking for something that can be physically opened. I was personally looking for a jam jar post-Christmas and could not find one that I felt looked ‘pretty’ enough. In the end, I used a kiln jar from my own larder. I have since discovered that a kiln jar is actually a very difficult jar to open. It requires strength in which to flip the opening and some of the children do not have this skill. Being ever the OT, this has proved to be ideal. It has helped me to help the children develop essential hand strength skills.
Secondly, fill the jar full of motivational quotes
Initially, I looked online and used some that I had found off general websites. The drawback of these were that some of the quotes were a bit too deep and meaningful. As the children were reading them I realised that some words were too long and I was needing to explain their meaning. I have since tried to find quotes from actors. Again this can be a bit hit or miss mainly because the children do not always know who the actors are. Therefore, it has had no meaning. The best quotes have actually come from films such as Harry Potter. I have also tried asking the kids to write their own messages. The results have been mixed. Some have repeated advice that they have been given. For example, ‘Be good’ which when shared with another child has not been very motivational. This does remain my plan as it would be a great way to still incorporate handwriting into every bit of my sessions.
My third advice is to name your jar
I initially referred to my jar as the ‘motivation jar’. However, this was quickly re-named by one of the kids I work with to the ‘fortune jar’. He felt it was similar to opening a fortune cookie and he has even created a label to go on it.
The fortune jar has taught me a lot. It has become an important part of my handwriting sessions.
The fortune jar has taught me a lot. It has become an important part of my handwriting sessions. It’s a great way to motivate children to write. If I forget to ask the children to pick out a quote because we are running out of time they will remind me! Bizarrely the children seem to always pick out a quote that is suited to their needs. If a child is needing a little pick me up or are feeling low they may well pick “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. – Dr. Seuss”
All in all, it has been a great way to finish all my handwriting sessions. I really cannot think why I did not do this earlier. I would like to leave you with a little motivational quote for yourself. “It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities. – Dumbledore”