Everyday, Simple Idea #19: Pencils, Pens, Paper, and Post-its.

I am sharing some of the simple, daily things I do at home as a Mom that come from my occupational therapy background.

child writing#19 Pencils, Pens, Paper, and Post-its.

Children love to act like adults.

I can give my kids a coloring book and crayons, and they will play maybe 15 minutes.  Give them a pencil or pen from my desk so they can write like Mom or Dad, and they will “write” for an hour.  They think it is even better is when they get to use my post-its or notebooks.  Logically, there is no way that a pencil and blank paper should be better than crayons and a coloring book, but the desire to imitate adults is really strong and rewarding to kids.  This is one of my favorite ways to convince my children to engage in quiet play, both at home and when we go out and about.

How to make this work?

  • Limited access- anything that a child can’t typically have is much more desirable.  I keep on my desk a small selection of pens, pencils, and paper specifically for my children to use.  It is a special treat when I allow them access.
  • Novelty wins- small notepads and pencil are cheap and plentiful.  I collect them and hide them away, taking them out a key times I need my children to engage in a quiet task.  For a really special treat, allowing them to use a pad of post-its (but I recommend only giving a small stack because they will end up everywhere!)Collection of notepads
  • Pair the notebooks and pencils with a small backpack and you are set to keep a toddler or preschooler busy while running errands or at a restaurant.

What are the benefits?

  • Fine motor development– “pretending” to write with a variety of utensils (pens, pencils, crayons, markers… ) helps children develop control of their fingers that will lead to control for handwriting, button, and other fine motor skills.  Each writing item requires different skills- for example, pencils need a certain amount of force to write and pens need to be held at just the right angle.
  • Attention to task- children need the chance to pay attention to activities that are low stimulation.  Compared to most children’s toys, pencil and paper are really boring.  Engaging in tasks that require the child to take initiative, be creative, and attend.
  • Imitation– playing pretend by imitating adults build strong cognitive, social, and play skills.

child writing 2

Paige Hays is an occupational therapist who provides in-home, pediatric occupational therapy services in the south metro area of the Twin Cities, MN. She is a mother of 2 girls, avid DIYer, and a highly skilled and experienced OT. She specializes in working in pediatrics, with diverse expertise ranging from cognition and sensory issues to working with children with neuromuscular disabilities or complex medical needs.