Monday, May 17, 2010

Montessori Hack: Dressing Boards

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Here's my latest project in this series.
In case you're wondering why I've been on this kick lately, I thought I'd give a little background. I don't post a great deal about my children's day to day lives, and particularly my son's special needs, largly out of respect for their privacy. I don't want them to be completely mortified one of these days when they're teenagers, and accidentally stumble across mom's blow by blow description of their potty training dilemmas or whatever.
With regards to my son, suffice it to say that he is a very bright, high functioning little boy, who almost certainly falls somewhere on the Autistic spectrum. He's currently receiving occupational therapy for SPD and fairly significant fine motor skill delay.

I've been trying to come up with ways to help L improve his fine motor skills, which are at this point limiting our ability to move forward with writing, etc. A lot of the Montessori activities lend themselves to that end, so that's why I've been busily coming up with quickie, cheapo knockoffs of proper Montessori materials.
Anyway, here's my version of a dressing board. L still has a good bit of difficulty buttoning shirts, and I thought this might help with that particular skill, as well as perhaps improve his motor control in general. As I run across other suitable clothes, I may make further additions to this series...
I basically just hacked up one of his shirts, and stapled it to a cheap wooden Ikea picture frame, using a heavy duty stapler. I used pinking shears on the shirt to minimize fraying.
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Image and video hosting by TinyPic

It occurs to me that this would have almost certainly looked neater if I had measured a little more carefully, and used some sort of glue, instead of staples.
Nonetheless the result is pretty sturdy, and entirely functional, if not beautiful. :)

abc button


  1. I need to do that, because my kids can't button worth anything.

  2. I have been thinking of doing this very same thing for over a year now. Not sire what has been stopping me. Looks like it worked for you!

    Another great idea for fine motor is clothespins. They work the pincer grasp and are open to soooo many possibilities. We build constructions with them, use them for story sequencing, use them with ABC's, use them traditionally, use them for.... well, you name it, we do it! If you need ideas or specifics, just ask!

  3. I'll have to try this too! I've seen those boards and they can be expensive. Thanks for the idea on a DIY! Is your son interested in sign language? I've taught sign to my girls since birth, and I've noticed that it has helped with fine motor skills. They are only 2.5 yrs old, but they can manipulate their fingers in all sorts of signs and it's shown up in other areas too. Just another benefit to signing! (Also, spatial awareness is another huge benefit to signing.)
    Amanda from

  4. Hi. I just found your blog. I have a spectrum daughter that I am going to begin homeschooling next fall. She is so smart that kindergarten is just boring for her, yet she has a lot of social and sensory issues. One of the things that helped her fine motor skills was cutting. Craft foam is especially easy and satisfying to cut. Also, we got a great book from Kumon (bought it at Target) that was a cutting book where each page was an activity and they got progressively harder.

    I'm going to follow your blog. Always good to know another spectrum homeschooling parent.

  5. What a great idea! I love stuff like this. ;)