Five benefits of shaving cream for Occupational Therapy Home Programs

Five benefits of shaving creamShaving cream has to be my all time favourite activity to improve handwriting and visual motor skills. Shaving cream is an inexpensive, fun and motivating therapeutic activity that can easily be used the home and school environment. It is messy but I promise that it cleans up easily with a towel.

Here’s five benefits of using shaving cream as part of your child’s Occupational Therapy home program:

  1. Shaving cream is a great medium for practicing pre-writing patterns. Pre-writing patterns include waves, hills, crocodile’s teeth and pigs tails.  Mastering pre-writing patterns is the precursor to developing great handwriting. These shapes form the foundation of our letters so children need to be able to to these patterns smoothly and effortlessly if they are to develop legible handwriting.
  2. Shaving cream is also a great medium for practicing letter formation. Writing the same letter over and over in an exercise book is boring compared to drawing it in shaving cream.
  3. Messy play, such as playing in shaving cream, can help to reduce tactile sensitivity in children who are bothered by light touch. These children typically are quite “stand-offish” with messy play or will only participate in it by using their fingertips rather than getting their whole hand dirty. You need to respect the child’s tactile defensiveness. When they have had enough, let them wash their hands rather than push them to play for a bit longer. For children who really avoid immersing their hands in the shaving cream, let them push a matchbox car or other favourite toy through it. The car can “drive around the letter track”. Before you know it, they will probably have some shaving cream on their fingers and tolerate it for a few minutes before needing to wipe it off.
  4. Shaving cream is great for motivating reluctant writers to have a go at improving their letter formation. Children who refuse to hold a pencil or who hate sitting at the table for any length of time, will often have a go at shaving cream and find that time flies when they are having fun.
  5. Shaving cream is good “messy” fun for the whole family. You can easily set siblings up with their own pile of shaving cream to keep them busy while you help the other child with their visual motor, fine motor or handwriting activities.

Tips for using shaving cream:

  • I prefer to use shaving cream for sensitive skin as the odour is less offensive and you don’t get that tingling feeling on your skin from the menthol. Gillette Shaving Foam For Sensitive Skin is my preferred brand followed by Palmolive for sensitive skin if Gillette is not available.
  • Have a towel handy before you start the activity.
  • Make a rule that it is the adult’s job to squirt out the shaving cream otherwise you will have none left!
  • Squirt a small pile of shaving cream onto a table top or placemat, about the size of an apple in front of your child.
  • A table that contrasts in colour to the shaving cream creates the best effect. If this is not possible use a coloured placemat or add a couple drops of food colouring to the shaving cream.
  • Ask your child to “spread the cream out to make a piece of writing paper” with their hand.
  • Respect your child’s need to stop if they become bothered by the sensation of the cream.
  • Encourage your child not to rub the shaving cream too much as it will disappear too quickly.
  • Top up your child’s shaving cream supply if it disappears. You have have to do this two to three times during the writing activity.
  • Shaving cream can also be used for practicing spelling words or mathematic equations.
  • Let your child have free play fun in the shaving cream after they have practiced their therapy activities or homework.

Post a photo of your child having fun with shaving cream on our Facebook page, as we would love to see their mess while they are hard at work.

About The Author

Natalie Brown

Natalie is an Occupational Therapist & Director at Occumax. She specialises in helping children to maximise their potential to live, learn and play.