The Turn-2-Learn game is easy to make and builds at least 9 fine motor skills. It’s great for kids with ASD, ADHD, and all others!

By: Melissa L. Miller, OTR/L, Pediatric Occupational Therapist

Handwriting emerges in children as a confluence of early childhood experiences — orchestrated by nervous system development, perceptual motor skill, and spatial awareness. The initial large, often tilted, letters formed on newsprint are put away with warm smiles and saved in countless closet boxes throughout the early years of a child’s development.

These awkward, and often perilously connected stick lines, are the end result of movement, sensory processing, body awareness, and core body strength. These skills permit distal mobility of the hands and fingers, not to mention the development of cognitive structures required for letter memory, recognition, and assignment of appropriate sounds.

One of the presenting characteristics of children on the Autism Spectrum Disorder is hand weakness, which is indeed part of the diagnostic criteria.  Holding a pencil is critical to the handwriting process. Pinch strength is needed, along with the ability to move the fingers while pinching an object simultaneously.  This ability to “separate the sides of the hand” into a side that stabilizes (the pinky side) and one that moves (thumb, index, and long fingers holding the pencil) ultimately produces ease of writing, increased speed, and smooth fluent letter formation.

Moreover, the handwriting “engine “is driven by phonetic and phonemic awareness critical to producing words, sentences, and paragraphs. Memory  — especially working memory — is a critical component of writing skills and can be an area of difficulty for students on the Autism Spectrum.

It is tempting to view keyboarding as an easy fix to these difficulties. However, there is an accumulating mountain of evidence showing that writing by hand increases retention of content (especially complex conceptual material) and improves compositional fluency skills.

It has been my privilege as an OT to work with many children on the autism spectrum over my 25 years working in schools, clinics, and outpatient settings.  In honor of autism awareness month, I created the Turn-2-Learn skill-building game.  It is easy to build from readily available materials. I’d like to encourage therapists and families try this multitasking fine motor, phonetic awareness game!

Hope you enjoy our  short “Tablet: Unplugged” video featuring Turn-2-Learn!

Great for ASD and all Kids!

Especially useful for ASD students, Turn-2-Learn is specifically designed to promote the fine motor components of handwriting, letter recognition, and letter sounds. This fun game is appropriate for children age four and up who do not mouth objects. There are endless ideas for adapting Turn-2-Learn! Use it to promote classroom name “sign in.” Helps kids find letters, learn spelling or correct a “mixed up alphabet.”

Use the tiny animals, in their lettered containers, for students who may need this phonemic “boost.” Use tweezers to remove the tiny animals to encourage tool use skills and visual motor development.

I hope that you and your children will enjoy Turn-2-Learn!    Most of all have fun!

Download the Materials List and Instruction Guide:

[download id=”13128″ template=”list of instructions & materials”]

What new learning games can you invent with Turn2-Learn?  Comments?  Let us know by posting below!