Thursday, April 7, 2011

The First Strokes Handwriting Program

     One of my favorite multisensory programs for teaching handwriting is the “First Strokes Program”. It was designed by an occupational therapist, Jan McCleskey, MA, OTR. The workbooks are for pre-K through 3rd grade students and I use them with my students on a daily basis. They are great! 
     This program separates the letters of the alphabet into categories based on the first part of the letter stroke. For example, i, r, n, and m are all in a group together because they all begin with a “short line down”. 
    There is a colorful storybook that teaches the concepts of drawing and grouping the letters using a colorful, fun and entertaining story about "Billy the Seal". The print program has a computer tutorial that is absolutely wonderful (This CD is only compatible with a PC format).
     If you have a child that already knows the basic formation of the letters, but has a problem with general legibility, there is a workbook called “Cool! One Hour to Legibility” that addresses the most common handwriting errors. It is full of activities and samples and can be used with students who are second grade and above.
     My favorite thing about “First Strokes is that it doesn’t require any special adaptive paper; therefore, students can immediately generalize to regular Zaner -Bloser paper. This is a big benefit! For more information about this program and the products, check out their website @
     Please note: if your child has severe visual motor or visual processing issues, these programs may not be appropriate and you’ll want to consult with an occupational therapist before selecting a program.

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