This blog I’m going to be focusing on games for dysgraphia for older children to play at home.
What is dysgraphia?
Dysgraphia is of course all about bad handwriting, but it’s also about so much more. When a child has dysgraphia, the act of writing is so mentally and physically exhausting that it actually impairs their ability to put logical thoughts down on paper.
In a previous blog, I looked at fun activities to help with the symptoms of dysgraphia. These activities will help to strengthen your child’s motor skills which will improve their pencil grip and ultimately their handwriting. However as a child gets older, they also need to try and plan out their work, work through things cogently and put structured thoughts onto paper.
I discovered with Ella that by turning certain board games into writing games, we would not only have fun but she could also practice her writing, structured thought and organisation without realizing she was practicing… and when she got fed up or tired, we’d simply go back to the classic way of playing that game.
When adapting board games, it’s important to remember a few handy hints:
- Don’t rush. If the game takes longer, make a note of where you’re up to, leave it and come back to it another time.
- Use these games for dysgraphia as a chance to try out specialised paper, pencil grips and any other tools for dysgraphia you might have.
- Keep the game fun. Once your child gets bored, tired or in any way stressed, take a break or stop altogether.
The following games for dysgraphia are simply twists on the classic board games and much more fun than worksheets:
Scattergories Junior: This is the perfect game for those kids who are slightly older. It targets language concepts as well as naturally targeting handwriting. Basically, children have to write a list of objects that fall into certain categories – the catch being that all of the items have to begin with a certain letter. You can use specialised paper here should you need to and if you don’t fancy buying the game, you could easily create your own lists. I have many which I will be updating regularly. These lists are currently available for a free download.
HedBanz: This is a great family game with and without writing. You place cards into the adjustable headbands, facing the other players, then each player asks yes or no questions to the group to try to figure out what is on their card. To turn it into a writing game, your child could write down the clues they find out. For example, if they ask whether their card contains a bird and the answer is no, they would write down not a bird. Their clues will help them with each turn.
Scrabble Junior: The children’s version of the classic family game, Scrabble Junior is a great option for new readers. There are two sides to the board – one containing letters and oe completely empty (save the pictures) for more advanced play. Once again, this can be adapted to a writing game by asking your child to write the word they formed after each one.
5 Second Rule: For this game, a child picks a card, reads the topic and starts the 5 second timer. Can they name three things that fit with this topic in only 5 seconds? To turn it into a handwriting game, you’ll need to adtime to the clock and then ask your children to write down their three things instead of calling them out. Increase the amount of items they have to write to make the game a bit harder.
Dobble: Dobble is a great game for dysgraphia as it can easily be transformed into a writing game. The game consists of a deck of cards and each card contains eight different symbols. There is one common symbol on any two cards and it is this which must be spotted. It is usually a verbal game, however to transform it to a writing game, ask your kids to play it silently and write down their answers for each card.
Other great games for dysgraphia include:
- Pictionary (especially when a whiteboard and large marker is used)
As well as board games, physical games are really as beneficial for kids with dysgraphia. On the surface, writing may not seem physically demanding. But for a child with dysgraphia, sitting properly and controlling pen and paper requires a great deal of muscle strength and stability in the shoulders and core – which they often don’t have.
Games and activities that work these areas can really help. These include: planks, push-ups, wheelbarrow walking, crab walking, basketball, monkey bars and rope climbing. If your child isn’t particularly keen on planks or push ups, try playing a few rounds of ‘Simon Says’ to get them exercising without realizing they are doing so.
Children with dysgraphia often have issues when trying to organise their thoughts. Structured storytelling can really help with this. Ask your child about their day and have them write it out either as a short fairytale or as a short adventure story. Talk through it first before asking them to write out a few examples of what they did. You could start the writing with Once upon a time there was a…. and have them fill in the blanks. That way they wouldn’t be required to write too much and it could still be fun.
An alternative would be to build a story with your child and their siblings. Start off with a short couple of sentences starting a story and fold the paper leaving the final line in view. Each child then takes it in turns to build on the story using the previous line to start their part. At the end, have one child read out the entire story and you can be guaranteed it will be totally crazy!
Do you have any favourite games for dysgraphia or any handy hints? Share your ideas in the comments below!
Are you looking for other ideas to encourage reluctant writers? Click here to read more great hints, tips and advice.