There are many benefits to using vertical surfaces with young children. Here are just a few:
- Biomechanics: It helps facilitate natural wrist extension, which brings the fingertips together. This can help with fingertip control, a more efficient grasp and/or facilitate grasp development.
- It is easier visually. Think about how you hold a book or a newspaper (usually at an angle in front of you rather than on a horizontal surface).
- It assists children with directionality when learning to write or draw (e.g., when you say, “straight line down”, it is literally down and not a line going toward you as it would be on a horizontal surface).
- The muscles of the shoulder girdle and core are used more. This can help with increased muscle control and strength building.
Ideas for vertical surfaces:
- Slant board (varying degrees of slant – the younger the child, the more the slant recommended) – many everyday activities can be put onto a slant board e.g., magnadoodle, worksheets, art projects etc.
- Chalkboard, wall, or another surface on a wall
- A pool noodle that has been slit and slid onto the top of a clip
- Prone position offers the same biomechanical and visual advantages of the slanted surface
Ideas for activities using a vertical surface:
- Painting on an easel
- Tape a coloring sheet or worksheet to the wall
- Window painting, washing windows
- Shaving cream on the wall in the bathtub
- Window clings
- Felt on a felt board
- Suction cup toys on a mirror
- Painting a wall with water
- Learning numbers and upper-case letters on a magnadoodle on a slant board
- Magnets on a refrigerator
- Many every day toys can be put on the slant board e.g., Lite-Brite, peg puzzles