At the beginning of January, Annie’s preschool made the switch to non-edible treats to celebrate birthdays and other events. That was more than fine by me – there is a child in her class with a severe nut allergy, and I had a lot of anxiety about baking a cupcake that would be safe. For Annie’s birthday, I sent her to school with mini-playdoh tubs and cookie cutters. Cheap, easy and safe for everyone!
This switch means no candy for Valentine’s Day, which is again fine with me because Annie needs sugar like I need a hole in my head. I was inspired to make these Valentines for her when I saw her playing with a hand clapper I’d bought her for New Year’s Eve. I ordered mini-clappers on Amazon, but most party stores sell clappers in regular and mini sizes.
I put together a template for the mini-clappers, and also for the full-sized clapper, which are available for download for free if you’d like to make these Valentines with your kids (or maybe for your officemates or cats, I don’t judge).
Mini Clapper Template
Full-Sized Clapper Template
To put them all together, you need:
String or ribbon
Right now the Target dollar section has baker’s twine and the most freaking adorable Valentine ribbon ever. Unless you shop at my local Target, because I bought all the cute ribbon. SORRY.
After I printed and cut the Valentines, I had Annie get to work. We’ve been teaching her to write her name, so I thought printing her Valentines this far in advance would be a good motivator for her. She can write her name on two or three every night, which is just about right for her attention span.
Someone tell me how to teach a lefty to hold a pencil.
She told me, “I did it! I’m so proud of myself!”
Place your clapper on the template to figure out where you want to tie it to the card-stock. Mark either side of the clapper with a pen or pencil.
Punch holes out where you marked the paper. If your hole punch can’t reach, you might want to use an eyelet punch or x-acto knife.
Run your string or ribbon through the holes, then tie your prettiest bow. Annie wants to learn how to tie bows, too…that will be interesting.
Happy (early) Valentine’s Day! I think I’ll get Annie a few little chocolates to eat at home…then she can burn off the sugar with a bunch of hand-clappers! Sounds relaxing.
For a child so young, a small pencil (like used for recording golf scores) is really beneficial. Another strategy is to tear a tissue in half, ball it up, and have the child hold it in the palm of her hand with the last two fingers while the other three grasp the pencil.
Love this! My son is in kindergarten this year and wants to make his class valentines this year, so this may be the perfect mix of him being able to help, without it taking a year to do (hey, he has 23 classmates ). Maybe Target will re-stock their ribbon this week? My son is a lefty too, and for writing, he uses pencil grippers. He started using them at school a couple months ago and we got him some for at home too. From September-now, his writing has improved immensely!
I’m a lefty and can’t help you with the pencil thing. But learning to tie… Find another lefty to teach her sitting side by side. If a righty is teaching her, have them sit across from her and she can follow them as if looking in a mirror. I also found some helpful YouTube videos when I was teaching my righty son to tie. Your Valentines are very cute. I’ll have to keep that in mind for next year. Thanks!
I am left handed (I have to go back to a great-aunt to find another one in the family) and my mom taught me to tie my shoes by sitting across from her. I had no trouble learning to do it. I used left handed sisssors at school (here’s a tip to mark sissors w/ your kids’ names – red nail polish – stayed on all year) but now find it easier to use reguar sewing sheers (maybe because they are sharper)
As Annie gets older, she figure out what just works for her left handiness. Example – I techanically crosstitch backwords. All of my Xs are the opposite of how directions show them. But mom said it was OK as long as they all go the same way. Also taught myself to knit by matching the handpositions in a book. I find it more comfortiable to knit right handed than left.
I’m a lefty too, which most people don’t realize as I don’t twist my paper round at odd angles nor do I twist my hand above my writing thus smearing it all as I write. I hold writing utensils just like a right-handed person would.
As for tying–my dad taught me to tie bows when I was Annie’s age using a pretty, pink piece of yarn that was thick, and tying it round a table leg. Somehow that helped with the right- vs left-handed issue. Now I am doing the same thing with my niece only I am using a pretty pink fabric scarf that is narrow–only a few inches wide. Somewhere she heard that whole rabbit-goes-round-the-tree bit and insists upon using it, but as long as she keeps straight which is the “tree” & which is the “rabbit” she does quite well on bows.
What a cute idea!
I’m a lefty, and my parents are both right-handed. No one ever taught me how to do anything “left-handed” or “right-handed.” I just watched what they did and figured it out on my own what worked best for me. In fact, I cut with my right hand, but throw with my left hand. I bowl with my right hand, but stir with my left hand. Whatever seemed to feel right, I guess.
Those mini-clappers are super cute! I’m going to stick with the cheapo paper cards with temporary tattoos, but I may have to keep this in mind for next year.
After my mother discovered that my teachers were taping my pencil to my right hand I was left to my own devices to figure out how to write left handed!
I’m kind of like Stephanie in that I use each hand for different tasks and with some, I’m ambidextrous.
I would definitely get her left-handed scissors.
Some kids in my family are left handed and this has been fun: http://www.leftyslefthanded.com
Love the cards! As a teacher I wish more people would send non food items for holidays. Always too much food, and there isn’t enough stuff to do. For pencil holding, use regular crayons broken in tiny pieces (like an inch or so) so they have to hold it with their tri-finger grasp instead of in a fist.
Tri-finger grasp is her “pincher” fingers (pointer finger and thumb) with pencil resting on middle finger, first joint. My first grade teacher mother would put an “x” on the middle finger where the pencil should rest. Do a search for “Correct Pencil Grip” and you will find drawings of what is considered correct. (www.thepencilgrip.com is one place to look.) It is the same whether you are right or left handed.
Janice’s suggestion is a good one.
Annie is writing her name so well! A great way to work on her pencil grasp is to break a crayon in half and have her write with it. She will be naturally forced to hold her hand in a transitional grasp.
As a British primary teacher (and left hander) I find this really interesting! Annie is doing a good job of trying to write at her age. Pencil grip is quite a hard thing to teach. I don’t know if it is the same in American schools but in British nursery schools we don’t like children learning to write their names all in capital letters. Then they have to unlearn it and learn to write their names in lower case except for the first capital. Tracing names in trays of paint or sand or playdoh is also good.
Scissors are funny. Some lefties use normal scissors (I do – I use scissors with my right hand) and some prefer left-handed scissors. Try Annie with both and see which ones she gets on best with.
Oh, I never thought of that point of capital/lowercase. We definitely need to teach her lowercase! Thanks for the lefty tips!
My daughters nursery class had the kids tracing over their name for a term then writing it themselves for the next term. It was the start of the day thing – hang your coat, write your name, etc.
Im also a lefty and was taught by a lefty. She was a brilliant teacher and never tried to correct me but she sat me opposite a child who was right handed! I quickly learnt by watching the person in front of me. Most childrens scissors are bi-handed so that shouldnt be a worry yet.
I came back to this post because I was thinking about teaching pencil grip. I remembered working with a child a few years ago who had problems acquiring a pencil grip i.e. the “pincer grip” rather than clutching it in his fist. We worked with a specialist and one really good activity she did was getting a plastic plate, clipping clothes pegs all round the edge, then getting the child to practise clipping and unclipping clothes pegs on the plate. Really good for pincer grip. Also using a pair of small tongs or tweezers to pick up something fiddly like marbles, counters, dried peas. We set time targets to see how many pegs could be clipped or how many peas picked up.
Here’s a very arty activity with clothes pegs
and some more pincer grip activities:
These are AMAZING! Thank you so much for coming back with this info, Kate! I am absolutely going to start this stuff with Annabel TOMORROW!
A teacher tip for pencil grip:
Have her use only writing implements that are very short. Golf pencils, crayons broken into bits, pipsqueak markers. When something is short, the only way that a hand can grip it is through a pinch, which is what she needs to develop.
My kids had food allergies and I wished their schools had (or enforced) a non-edible policy! Play-doh contains wheat so I made my own with rice flour. Markers or stickers are fun too.
I’m an OT student who has done a peds placement where pencil grasp was a verrrrrry common issue. Try using broken crayons or small pieces of chalk to print – this will force her into a proper position.
Check out this blog post (it’s not my own!), too. It gives a good run down of different pencil grips.
This is also dense – BUT most people will tell you that she must have a good tripod grasp. Which isn’t really true at all. Studies are showing that tripods aren’t necessarily superior as long as your grasp is functional:
This is great! Our little guy has his first Valentine’s Day party at daycare this year and I’ve been looking for something different (read: not candy) to give. Thanks so much for sharing the template, too!
She should hold her pencil just like a right-handed person, but in her left hand!
Adorable idea! I’m a lefty! I never did hold my pencil “right” in grade school. It never worked for me because then holding my pencil “right” covered up where/what I was trying to write, and made for VERY sloppy penmanshipt. SO I used a pencil my own way. In junior high I started holding the pencil better, but also turned my papers sideways and wrote that way. The pencil grips with grooves for fingers helped me because it felt awkward to grasp the pencil with my whole hand with those things on them. I couldn’t learn to tie my shoes until another left handed child taught me. I learned to use scissors with my right hand because no one EVER had left handed scissors. To this day, I can’t cut as well with my left hand as my right. I just figured out ways to adapt over time.
I love these Valentine’s!!! Super cute!!!! Thanks for the idea & template.
Being a lefty, I agree that sitting opposite of Annie is a good idea, as is using shorter writing utensils. Sadly, many lefties learn to write with a fist-lock and that is never broken. It looks awkward, is awkward, and penmanship is often messy and looks child-like even when they are adults.
My mom was left-handed but I hated how she curved her hand across/over what she was writing & had the paper at an angle (both something many lefties do), which smears the writing, so I trained myself to not do that so very few people even realize I’m left-handed.
As for scissors–left-handed one’s confuse me! LOL I guess I just adapted to right-handed. Plus, now, many are generic, which is great.
I use my left hand for writing, cutting w/scissors, and kitchen knives; I use my right hand to hold a table knife & my left to hold the fork & either for a spoon (but usually left); for sports–I do everything right-handed (not that I actually chose to play anything, but when I did play, I became a tightly!).
It will be fascinating to see what Annie does as she matures!!!
Right….that next to last bit was to read “…when I did play I became a righty.”
Don’t you just love auto-correct? Machines aren’t always smarter than I. They often are but not ALWAYS!
My sister and I are both lefties, our parents (and I believe most if not all of both families) are righties. My mother was apparently convinced she had “done” it to us by feeding us sitting opposite, which led into us naturally grasping her right hand with our own lefts. (of course, that is how ALL righties feed babies and if there was a bit of truth in it, all children would become opposite-handed of their parents/caregivers)
I have a totally normal pencil grip, identical to a righties, just mirrored. Yes, my hand gets smudged but that’s only because it is following the writing not proceeding it like a righty would. I don’t turn the page or my hand.
I eat with forks/spoons in my left hand. I cut food with the knife in my left hand. I play softball with a left-handed glove my aunt gave to me when I was 6. My sister plays softball as a righty. I used left-handed scissors some as a child but just as often right-handed and exclusively right handed now.
I don’t think about being left-handed, until someone randomly notes it “I didn’t know you were left-handed” or I’m trying to demonstrate something at work (vet clinic) and I realize I might need to make adjustments for right-handed owners/coworkers. Lefties through circumstance are generally fairly ambidextrous in many tasks and I’ve always just adapted what I needed to for myself. It doesn’t have to be a big deal. I don’t remember any issues learning to tie shoes. Annie is a brilliant kid, she’ll be able to mirror and adjust with very little issue.