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 Welcome to Occupational Therapy in LEEP at Moose Hill

 Hi,  my name is Karen L. Riddle, I am a licensed and certified Occupational Therapy Assistant who works closely with Courtney Porter, OTR/L.  I have been a pediatric therapist in Londonderry School District since 1995. Prior to joining the Londonderry School District, I was a pediatric therapist in the Hampstead School District. I have the pleasure of working with your children in the LEEP morning and afternoon sessions. Your children are learning how their bodies move through their senses everyday through thoughtfully planned sensory motor, gross motor, fine motor/visual-motor and self-help activities at LEEP!  Through the generosity of the PTA and private organizations, LEEP is fortunate to have a well equipped indoor sensory motor room and a well equipped outdoor playground that are used daily.

 Role of the OT in Preschool

The occupational therapist uses developmentally appropriate practices and medically based training to assist children with and without special needs to function optimally in their educational setting. The OT addresses basic foundation skills such as the sense of touch, smell, taste, and most importantly movement, vision, gravity, posture, balance, muscle tone, motor planning, body awareness and bilateral coordination. These foundational skills are addressed through rich sensory-motor, gross motor, fine motor/visual-motor and self-help activities.

The Importance of Building Foundational Skills

Our traditional senses: vision(seeing), auditory(hearing), tactile(touch), smell(olfactory) and taste(gustatory) give us important information about our surroundings. Our brain also receives important information from less familiar senses known as the vestibular and proprioceptive senses. Our vestibular sense gives us awareness of our body position and movement in space through detection of motion and gravity. It is a very powerful sense. Our proprioceptive sense gives us unconscious information through our muscles, joints and ligaments about where our body is in space. It gives us information about our "body contents" and helps us regulate the amount of force needed to move in a smooth, coordinated manner. Proprioceptive activities can have a calming and organizing effect on our nervous system when offered at consistent intervals throughout the day. Our tactile sense gives us our "body boundaries". "Pressure touch" can be calming as it enhances "relaxed brain chemistry" allowing us to focus and attend. These three senses together are often referred to as the "power systems". Movement activities that are repetitive and rhythmical help us feel organized. One of the fundamental jobs of the brain is to process sensation. Young children need a sensory rich environment using the three power systems (vestibular, proprioceptive and tactile) to grow neurons to help the brain stem. Children need facilitated, meaningful movement to learn and develop to a "mental map" of their body.  When learning is "movement focused",  it provides scaffolding for future learning.  

"Movement is Essential to Learning"

Movement is essential to learning and is the key to foundational skills development.  What appears to be "child's play" is actually learning foundational skills. Making the foundation for learning as solid as possible allows your child to be the best that they can be. In her book, Smart Moves: Why Learning Is Not All In Your Head, Carla Hannaford, Ph.D., neurophysiologist and educator explains, "The more closely we consider the elaborate interplay of brain and body , the more clearly one compelling theme emerges: movement is essential to learning...Movement within the womb gives us our first sense of the world and the beginning knowledge and experience of the laws of gravity...Every movement is a sensory-motor event, linked to to the intimate understanding of your physical world..."1

1 Hannaford, Carla, Smart Moves: Why Learning Is Not All In Your Head, pg.96.

Handwriting Without Tears in the Preschool Setting

All of the children in the LEEP pre-kindergarten program are introduced to the handwriting curriculum, Handwriting Without Tears (HWTears). This curriculum has been adopted by the Londonderry School District starting with kindergarten and continuing into the upper grades. It is a simple, developmentally based curriculum for writing readiness and printing. The multi-sensory lessons teach to all learning styles- visual, auditory, tactile and kinesthetic. The introduction to handwriting at the pre-Kindergarten level is a team approach at LEEP. From September until December, the focus is on proper seating, upper body and hand strengthening, fine motor/visual-motor skills, eye-hand coordination and an introduction to the letter formations through the use of wooden shapes that form letters. Beginning in January, your children will begin the process of capital letter writing. Your children will learn size, shape, positional concepts and words pertaining to how the letters are formed. Capital letters are the foundation for success in lower case printing. The Handwriting Without Tears program introduces capital letters first, not in ABC order, but according to common formation patterns, from simple to complex.

For more information, please refer to the web site: for the "Get Set For School" Pre-K curriculum.


Contact information: Karen L. Riddle, COTA/L # 437-5855 X 7319

email address:



OT Links

Letter Formation Guides: 

This link explains the way your children learn to make upper case capital letters. Click on it to see how they are taught!


Fine Motor Development 0 - 6 Years

This link lists 99 wonderful and fun activities that you can do with your child. Enjoy!