Why do OTs love using a vertical surface?

There are many benefits to using vertical surfaces with young children. Here are just a few:

  1. 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.
  2. 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).
  3. 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).
  4. 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 
  • Easel 
  • 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:

  1. Painting on an easel
  2. Tape a coloring sheet or worksheet to the wall
  3. Window painting, washing windows
  4. Shaving cream on the wall in the bathtub
  5. Window clings
  6. Felt on a felt board
  7. Suction cup toys on a mirror
  8. Painting a wall with water
  9. Learning numbers and upper-case letters on a magnadoodle on a slant board
  10. Magnets on a refrigerator
  11. Many every day toys can be put on the slant board e.g., Lite-Brite, peg puzzles
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