Long ago, when I studied remedial education, I learnt about the arrow chart. This chart trains children in spacial awareness and directionality, and it is extremely effective.
Free Download: Arrow Chart (Updated September 2014)
Back in the day, as a grade 6 & 7 public school teacher, I conducted my own research using the arrow chart for 2 of my 3 English classes (I taught 3 homogeneous classes the same lessons). Classes 1 and 2 performed a few random rows of arrow movements, then they sat and wrote their spelling test. The 3rd class simply entered the class, sat and wrote the same spelling test. I recorded their results on the back of my board. By the end of the month, the 3rd class was clearly lagging in every result. When they saw the results, they begged me to do the arrow exercises with them. Their improvement was instant and very encouraging. It takes just a few minutes. It is fun! It is physical. It’s effective. It is simple. It is mentally stimulating. It is amazing! These exercises are especially effective before maths classes, handwriting lessons, early reading sessions and before any test. I found that these activities help “center” the child, especially after a break, or after outdoors activities, when they need to settle down to concentrate on their books. While it is fun and stimulating, it helps the child to focus on the next task at hand. Children with attention deficit disorders especially benefit from these arrows activities in between lessons, or when they are distracted.
For quick sessions, especially for groups, call the children to stand up next to their chairs and use both arms to move quickly straight up/down/ left or right. I turn the chart around a few times, then I hold it where the group can see it, and randomly point to a row. I usually only do 2 to 3 rows in a session.
Ideally, the movement should be a large physical movement, especially where the child’s whole body changes position. Good movements should cross the body’s mid-line to stimulate the left and right sides of the brain:
DON’T speak. Simply point. This is a visual activity. (But it can be easily made into an auditory message, if the parent calls out the direction and the child moves.)
How it works:
- Place the chart in view, orientated randomly. (Any side is on top.)
- Describe what action the child must do in the same direction of the arrow. (Suggested actions listed below.)
- Start on any row. Start beginners on the shorter rows. Always start from the left and go across to the right. Once the child gains confidence, start some rows from the top and work down to the bottom of the row. ( I almost never work right to left, or bottom to top.)
- When working one-on-one with a child, the parent/ teacher can simply point along the row. Once the child gains confidence, simply point to the starting arrow in a row and the child progresses along the row at their own pace, performing quick, clear movements.
- When working with a group, the teacher/ parent must tap each arrow with a pointer. The children must be trained to execute the movement instantly, quickly and then stand ready for the next tap on the following arrow.
- Once a row is complete, point to the next random row. I often turn the chart around so that the child does not anticipate the direction or row to follow.
Suggested movements: You will need: a foam square or a small pillow, about 6 bean bags, a small plastic chair, an inflatable beach ball & a hula hoop. Use your mini trampoline too, if you have one!
- Stand in a clear space and quickly stretch both arms straight up/ down/ left or right. When stretching arms left or right, the one arm will stretch cross the body.
- Stand on a foam square and jump off the square and immediately back into the square ready for the next arrow – jump in front/ behind/ left/ right.
- Stand in a hula hoop on the ground and turn and lean down and touch the ground with both hands & immediately stand up – touch in front/ behind/ left/ right. (They could also jump out of the hoop, and back in, instead of touching the ground with both hands.)
- Place a small plastic chair in a clear space and the child must sit ready to move. They jump up, take a few quick steps to the front/ back/left or right of the chair and then quickly sit down again.
- On a mini trampoline mark the center with a small masking tape cross and place a small arrow pointing in all 4 directions on the rim of the trampoline. The child stands in the center, on the cross, and jumps forward/ back/ left or right according to the arrow chart and immediately back to the center cross.
- Sit on a pillow or foam square on the ground and hold a box of bean bags in their lap. The child must take the bean bag in the right hand and place it in front/ behind/ left or right on the ground next to the pillow. They can alternate doing a row using the left hand and then a row using the right hand.
Throwing and catching is fun too!
- The child has the bean bags and throws them in front/ behind/ left or right of a target like a foam square/ a hula hoop/ a bucket.
- Draw a large square with chalk on a wall. The child holds an inflatable beach ball and throws it to the position up/ down/ left or right of the square on the wall. The ball will bounce back and the child needs to catch it again. (I place the chart on the wall near the chalk square and point to the arrows in the row.)
- A partner/ parent or sibling stands in front of the standing child. Place the arrow chart on the ground in front of the child. The parent tosses one bean bag to the child who catches it and tosses it to the front/ back/ left/ right of his feet. He then quickly stands ready to catch and toss the bean bag for the next arrow. When the row is complete, he picks up each bean bag and tosses it back to the parent.
My youngest child, now 12-years, still LOVES these quick, fun sessions! Not only is her concentration more focused after a few arrow drills, but all her skills show a marked improvement too. Her handwriting speed and control is noticeably better too!
I highly recommend these amazing arrows.
Feel free to ask questions and share your experiences with this arrow chart with other readers in the comments below.
All in grace,