Five elementary summer school students used clothespins to pluck small, fuzzy pompoms from ice cube trays only to reinsert them into the tiny compartments.
Ten minutes later, the students were tracing oversized letters hanging around the room with toy race cars.
Then came one of their favorite parts of the day.
They smeared lotion over wax paper and ran their fingertips through the product, tracing letters of the alphabet.
Last week they used pudding, and before that, shaving cream.
Welcome to Tamey Zollner’s "Multi-Sensory Handwriting Program" for elementary students.
The students do practice writing the alphabet with boring pencils and paper — but not until the last 15 minutes of the hourlong, five-week summer school class at Finley Farms Elementary School in Gilbert.
"For some kids, just the traditional paper and pencil doesn’t work for them," Zollner said. "They don’t get their bodies ready to write so they don’t produce good results."
Zollner teaches the students exercises that loosen their shoulders, arms and fine motor muscles in their hands. She teaches them to sit up straight, with feet on the floor, and proper pencilholding skills, all in the name of training them to write clearly.
She learned her methods from occupational therapists who work with — and refer — students to the course during the regular school year.
"My handwriting was sloppy so this summer my grandma said I should take this class," said 9-year-old Brian Johnson. "I thought ‘No way, this is going to be boring,’ but then I got here and it was fun."