Practical Tip ~ Arrow Chart

This week’s practical tip ~

Arrows

I discovered this concept during my studies in remedial education when I was a student and used it regularly with all my classes during my teaching career.  Teaching and reinforcing directionality and spatial awareness, the arrow chart is a very effective exercise for children, helping in all subjects and activities.

  • Quick and fun, arrow chart drills last only a few minutes
  • Can be adapted for groups and one-on-one lessons
  • Used as a preparation before a formal lesson, arrow charts promote focus and attention
  • Excellent tool to help refocus a child after breaks
  • Wonderful for remedial skills which help improve a child’s handwriting, spelling and maths
  • Use bean bags and jumping for gross motor responses
  • Use just arm movements for seated drills
  • Apply verbal commands or replies “up/ down/ left/ right”  or compass directions “north/ south/ east/ west”

Read more in my posts ~

Here’s your free 4- page download: Arrow Chart with detailed explanations, examples and remedial activities and suggestions.

Hope this practical tip helps.

Blessings, Nadene

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Spelling Habit Training

Learning SpellingI usually teach spelling with lists; Ruth Beechick‘s high frequency word lists, thematic spelling, and/or a Schonell Spelling list (see my Book List).  But whether you follow a spelling book, program or list, your children need to learn their spelling using all these steps in order to reinforce their spelling mastery.

Younger children learn best using as many senses as possible, so encourage listening, seeing, and doing.  Say the word, then spell each letter aloud (auditory memory) while looking at the word and then visualizing the word with eyes closed (visual memory).  Write out the word, or use scrabble tiles (kinesthetic memory).  These activities form a combination that really helps learning.

Make it fun!  I often exaggerate silent letters or pronounce the word as it is spelt.  Play games with letter tiles.  We love to work with Bananagram tiles!

Always teach spelling in context.  The child must understand the word’s meaning.  Test spelling with the word in a sentence.  My middle schooler loves to create her own silly sentences with as many words in a sentence that still makes some sense.

Use a whiteboard and quickly erase any mistakes while learning or doing pre-tests.  Avoid any visual memory of any incorrect spelling.

Ask your child to write out mistakes for corrections.  Usually 3 to 5 times is enough to reinforce the correct spelling.  Do corrections as soon after the test as possible,

Finally, encourage an older child to make their own vocabulary lists of words they learn from their reading.  I love the scene in the movie “The Book Thief” where the basement walls become the child’s word list.

Here’s your free teaching spelling poster download ~ Learning Spelling

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Blessings,

Amazing Arrows

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. Arrow Chart

Free DownloadArrow 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. Homeschool2 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:

  1. Place the chart in view, orientated randomly. (Any side is on top.)
  2. Describe what action the child must do in the same direction of the arrow. (Suggested actions listed below.)
  3. 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.)
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

Homeschool

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,

Print Handwriting Tip#2 – 3D Before 2D

Last week I started my first handwriting tip post ~ Tip #1 ~ Teach Large Letters Before Small

Today’s post is aimed for very young children, pre-writing activities, early primary school and remedial activities.

Think of how a baby learns by putting everything into its mouth, feeling it and turning it to look at the object.  Young children need to feel, see, taste, hear and smell a new object in real life before they can truly relate to images, written forms and shapes of the object.  Using many senses heightens their learning experience and increases their connection to the object they are studying.

We learn best when we think, feel and do.  That’s the message of Dr. Adele Diamond, a cognitive developmental neuroscientist who currently teaches at the University of British Columbia in Canada.  “We might refer to this as “whole body learning.”  According to Dr. Diamond, the executive function of the brain — the prefrontal cortex — works best when we go beyond the rational mind by also involving emotions and physical behaviors.  That makes sense since the more we involve other parts of the brain, the more neural connections we make that reinforce learning.”  (http://www.michaelleestallard.com/brain-research-to-improve-learning-use-whole-mind)

In the same way, when exploring abstract concepts like maths, map work, and letter shapes, children need to connect to the concept and object in real life, or at least, with some of their senses.

3D stands for 3 Dimensions = length, width & height = a physical shape that has height/ mass/ or shape that stands out.

2D stands for 2 Dimensions = length & width = a flat picture or image or drawing

So, when teaching a young child his print letters, you want to teach the letter’s name, its sound (phonics), what it stands for (represents) and how to make that shape … first 3D and then 2D.  Quite a number of things to learn!

Only teach 1 new letter!  Our pre-school homeschool co-op sang the alphabet song every day and then we taught 1 new letter each month.  Actually we stayed with ‘a’ for ages, probably for 3 weeks, doing ‘a’ for ‘angel’ Bible stories, angel songs, “a for apple/ ant/ acorn/ antenna stories, pictures, crafts. In a whole year, we only got to about ‘h’!

Revise the letter daily, adding a new letter if the child is absolutely certain of the letter or is really keen and ready to learn more.

Here are some simple, fun activities that help the young child learn the letter shapes, letter formation, directions and positions:

  •  Make letters out of play dough – rolling sausages, pinching dough, squeezing dough balls  – all these activities helps develop finger muscles!                                                      
  • Use a hula hoop, stick and skipping rope to make letters shapes on the ground.
  • Use their bodies lying on the ground to make letter shapes using skipping ropes or hula hoops or sticks – left and right up and down relates to spatial awareness.
  • Build letters out of Lego blocks.
  • Use cheap plastic/ wooden letters to match picture cards –  [Tip: a good self-correcting letter recognition game: Use index cards and stick pictures from magazines to identify each letter of the alphabet (e.g.: ‘a’ for apple, ant, avocado; ‘b’ for ball, baby, bell, butterfly etc.) Put a dot on the top right hand corner the back of each card and draw the outline of the magnetic letter on the back of the card. Now the child can match the letter to the pictures and check to see if the magnet letter fits in the outline on the back. Siblings enjoy helping find pictures to stick on each card!]
  • Use wooden/ plastic letters – hide a few of them in a little cloth bag and let the child feel the letter shape without looking and identify the letter.
  • Make cookie dough and fashion letter shapes out of the dough and decorate them, bake and eat and enjoy!

And remember, that many letter shapes look similar, so the child needs to recognise how they differ.  This requires spatial awareness.  Here are some more activities that your child can do to reinforce direction and position of the letters.  Also these are good exercises for children who struggle with reversals or are simply unsure.

  • Use the arrow chart  (Free Download: Arrow Chart)  It is an incredible tool.Arrow ChartUse in random orientation (hang it differently each time you use it) and simply point to the first arrow in any row (start at one end and move across the row to the end) and the child must quickly move into the correct position (place the bean bag/ step out the hoop/ move in relation to a chair/ move both arms straight up or down or left or right).  You must keep quiet.  Don’t speak. Let the child recognise the direction.  They can call out the direction as they move.  Train them to do it quickly and promptly.  If you are working with more than 1 child, train them to move once you tap on the arrow.  Not before, not long after.  Turn the chart if they are ‘reading ahead’ or start a new random row.  You can work vertically too! Use the whole body, find actions that are fun.
  • Use a hoop and pool noodle or long stick – point to similar letters on a chart and ask the child to move the noodle/ stick to form the letter on the ground.  (b, d, p & q)                                                      
  • Use a hoop and rope to form letters that have curved lines joined to the round shape (g, f, t, j, y)
  • You can call out the letters, or make letter dice and throw the dice to play letter recognition games.
  • Use play dough to roll sausages and form letters.  Let them learn all the letters that are round (a, c, e, o) then letters that are simple straight (l, i, k)
  • Use pipe cleaners to make letter shapes.
  • Use clear descriptive words to describe the letter: “a” (say the phonic name)  “for apple is like a round apple with a straight stick on the right side”
  • Describe an object that it resembles: “ef” (for the letter ‘f’) looks like a tall sun flower with its head looped over the top …” and let them draw the flower over the letter f and turn the cross line into 2 little leaves.
  • Reinforce concept with the correct phonic sound especially the vowels.
  • Use fun physical ball and bean bag games to show positions: above, below, right, left, inside, under, on top, next to, touching.  Let the child sit inside a hoop and place the bean bag outside the hoop in the correct position.
  • Draw a large chalk circle on a wall and let the child throw a beach ball according the position words you call out.
  • Use foam letters (from a craft store) and arrange a few similar letters in a row.  Ask your child to find the specific letter/ the odd letter/ the letter with a straight side on the left or right.

Have fun and keep these activities short and sweet.  If something doesn’t “stick” find other creative ways to teach your child!  Hope that these ideas help.

Blessings,

Confound those confusing letters!

Last month my youngest child was quite ill.

 

Play dough

Image via Wikipedia

 

She lost weight and she lost her appetite.

She also lost ground at school.

Old weaknesses resurfaced.

She struggled again with reading, spelling and maths.

She lost her confidence and joy.

Everything seemed harder.

I have to boost her physically with prayer, tonic and a healthy diet.

At school I boost her with prayer and…

GAMES!

Remedial  Activities.

We play with spinners,

magnet letters,

bean bags, hula hoops

maths rods and counting blocks.

To combat letter reversals I pulled out my old remedial Games for b,d,t,f,p,q reversals .

I was amazed at how quickly we played the games.

Just a few minutes of play and the confusion was gone!

I decided to reinforce this and made a few more new activities.

Click here for this download ~ Confusing Letters Spinner and Activities

Letter Spinner

Mount the pointer and spin!

  • Make the letter with your whole body lying on the floor
  • Form the letter with a stick, hula hoop and skipping rope
  • Form the letter play dough/ in sand on a tray/ with shapes
  • Grab the correct magnetic letter from the row laid out in front
  • Call the letter sound out loud
  • Say the letter name out loud
  • Match the letter to its upper case letter
  • Make the felt letter match the spinner letter

Felt Letters

  • Felt letters are large and durable
  • They can be reversed so this is great to play b/d/p/q reversal games
  • Likewise they can be turned upside down and kids can play with u/n
  • Letter shapes can be built with felt as it sticks in layers
  • Felt board/ a carpet tile works well to display felt letters
  • Make pictures with the letters to reinforce the direction
  • Use arrows to play direction games with felt letters (turn the b to the left – it now is …)

Some dry-wipe marker worksheets

  • Place these pages in plastic protectors and use dry-wipe markers for quick easy games
  • Do just 1 or 2 activities at a time
  • Enlarge the page for younger children

During my formal teaching career I saw many children battle and struggle and “fall through the cracks”  because the system does not offer safety nets for those who can’t keep up.  Children who are given remedial help, label themselves and live with stress, fear and low self-esteem.

Homeschool is the perfect place to build up confidence, boost self-esteem and progress at a pace that the child copes with.  Parents can tailor-make their schooling to suit the child’s learning styles, interests and needs.

I am so grateful that I can quickly respond to my child’s difficulty.  I don’t mind spending a week on the mat instead of her weeping over her notebooks.

Even my middle child joins in because she doesn’t want to miss out on the fun!  And why not?  She can reinforce her skills and boost her confidence.  My children have fun and catch up without even realizing that we are doing therapy.

We keep the sessions short and sweet.  And with repetition, she will quickly improve her skills.

(While these activities were created for remedial work, young kindergarten children will benefit playing these games to boost their pre-reading skills.  Use colours and shapes instead of letters. 🙂 )

Blessings,

Strengthening Handwriting Muscles

Some children really battle to control the pressure while they write and weak fine motor muscles lead to fine or dark and irregular writing.

Play some pressure games to strengthen the finger fine motor muscles:

playdough pile

Image by jimmiehomeschoolmom via Flickr

Play dough is soft and easy to press and mould.

plasticine is denser and tough. Warm it up by rolling and stretching a ball.

Then…

Roll play dough sausages.

Stick fingers and make holes in little sausages they have rolled.

Make pinch pots.

Use a pizza cutter and cut long strips pressing down hard with forefinger.

Press toothpicks and prick patterns in the strips they cut with the pizza cutter.

Playing with Playdough

Image by wickenden via Flickr

Make zigzags with a pencil in a tile they have rolled.

Use play dough knife to cut deep and shallow grooves.

Make balls, flatten and press cuts all around the edge of the circles.

Pull out little beads/ Lego pieces buried in play dough balls.

Roll and press patterns in the play dough using a piece of rope.  Then let them cut along the rope imprint using a play knife or pizza cutter.

Use plastic clothes pegs to practice pinching with the thumb and forefinger.

Clothes pegs

Image via Wikipedia

Here’s some ziplock bag / workbox ideas:

Place mixed coloured pegs and plastic rulers of the same colours in the bag.  Let the child match the colour peg to the ruler and peg all of those colours along the ruler.

Put different coloured stacking cups in a bag with an assortment of pegs. The child sorts and then places the pegs along the rim of each cup.

Make number dot and peg cards.  The child counts and places a peg over each dot on each cards. (On the card with 1  and 1 dot, place the peg over the 1 dot.)

Place alphabet/number cards and pegs in a bag.  The child pegs the cards on a wash line in order.

Tearing and crunching paper, tissue paper or foil:

Tissue collage

Image by StarWatcher307 via Flickr

Tear tissue paper and create a colourful collage.

Use tissue paper and tear, then crunch little balls of paper to use in art – as flowers on a tree/ snow/hail in a picture/ flowers in a field.

Colour in a square of paper and then tear it into little blocks with both hands using the thumbs and forefingers in opposite directions.  Then paste the squares as a collage.

Tin Foil

Image by pasukaru76 via Flickr


Use tinfoil and mould the foil in shapes.

Crunch foil in balls and paste on a collage.

Create a 3D foil model/mobile/abstract art.

As you can see, there are endless activities that strengthen fine motor muscles required for handwriting.

These exercises are fun!  The child has no idea that he/ she is doing therapy.

So, if handwriting books frustrate, or if your child is not ready for handwriting, put the books aside and PLAY! 🙂

Maths Manipulatives – makes Maths fun!

Do your children struggle with Maths?

Do they hesitate and seem unsure?

Are they battling to remember bonds and tables?

Does maths take long because they are computing with difficulty?

A young child needs to practice Maths concepts over and over until they are well-memorized.  This skill makes abstract Maths work easier and quicker.

Young learners need concrete, hand-on manipulatives.  I have had success teaching maths with just a few manipulatives:

  • blocks
  • unifix
  • number value cards
  • wheels
  • flip cards

kinesthetic learners (a child with the learning style that requires movement) enjoy turning wheels, flipping charts or working with something in their hands.  These manipulatives are ideal for workbox activities or individual work before doing formal maths workbook activities.

I have made my own maths number value cards with worksheets and other suggested activities.  I also made some wheels to practice multiplication, division and adding.  These are useful once the child knows the principle and just needs daily reinforcement.  Just click on the title above the photo for your download.

I will continue to upload new activities and remedial help.  Please sign up for an email notification or subscribe to this blog and put my RSS feed on your homepage! You’ll find this on my sidebar halfway down.

Maths Number Value Cards

Maths Number Value Cards cut out the cards and laminate.

Maths Number Value Cards – the rest of the numbers

Math Number Value Application and exercises

Math Number Value  some more exercises

This manipulative is invaluable!  I use it often when working when introducing numbers, adding or subtracting numbers.  It makes perfect sense when we speak about count the ones, then the tens, now the hundreds and so on.

Math Bonds of 10 puzzle

Maths 10 Bonds Puzzle pieces

Maths 10 Bonds Instructions

Maths 10 Bonds Pocket

This is an excellent help! I make my youngster sit on the mat and quickly build the bonds puzzle, then come do some robots or amazing maths squares worksheets.

Maths Add Subtract 2 Wheels

Math Add & Subtract Wheel parts

Math Add & Subtract Wheels

Maths Division Wheels

Maths Division Wheels

(Print this 4 page download on 4 different coloured card stock pages.  Assemble the correct ‘division’ window to the correct cicle.  I printed these muddled so that your window colour will contrast with the wheel.)

Maths Multiply All 2 Circles

Maths Multiply All parts

Maths Multiply All assembled

Maths Multiplications Wheels

Maths Multiplication Wheels

With a few downloads, some printing and cutting and assembling, you’ll soon have a bag of tricks to help make maths practice fun!  I hope these help!

Blessings,

Fine Handwriting needs Fine Muscles

We think that handwriting skills are in the finger tips …

Well, actually it starts with the gross motor muscles!

Gross Motor Skills are our ability to use our large muscles to move.  They include our ability to roll, crawl, walk, run & jump.  Gross Motor Skills are important for the development of Fine Motor Skills & the ability to learn complex skills like fastening buttons & zippers, eating with a fork & knife, and printing, handwriting, typing & cutting. (Read Skill Builders for more info.)

Here are some games and activities that will build up upper body gross motor muscles:

Skipping

  1. Wheelbarrow races on hands while someone holds feet
  2. Hanging on rings on the jungle gym
  3. Throwing and catching big beach balls
  4. Playing swing ball
  5. Swimming
  6. Jumping with a skipping rope
  7. Bowling

Now for some fine motor activities and games:

Playing with play dough

  1. Squeezing clay, putty or plasticine
  2. Placing clothes pegs along a ruler or around a container
  3. Tearing paper – first colour a square paper with big crayons, then tear into tiny squares, then glue these pieces on to a picture
  4. crunching paper into balls
  5. Opening fingers with elastic bands on them
  6. Finger actions with songs
  7. Kneading bread dough
  8. Rolling and making biscuit balls
  9. Picking vegetables and pulling stalks off strawberries/ tomatoes/ shucking corn
  10. Drawing in pudding mix on a plastic cloth/ salt on a tray/ shaving cream on window or mirror
  11. Cutting with scissors
  12. Tying knots, bows, shoelaces or rope
  13. Doing buttons, zips, press studs, hooks and eyes, cuff links and fasteners
  14. Screwing and unscrewing bolts and nuts
  15. Lacing with card and shoelaces
  16. Beading with cotton reels and thick thread

I suggest that if your child struggles with your handwriting program, put the workbooks or worksheets aside and play these games!  Have fun and practice, practice and practice until the muscles gain strength and the child refines pre-handwriting skills .

Read more excellent ideas for pre-writing activities for pre-schoolers here

Look at these fine motor skills activities ideas here

For more ideas on handwriting read what Ann Zeise says here