Category Archives: preschool

3 Ways to Motivate Handwriting Practice - plus tips for special needs and a review {undergodsmightyhand.com}

3 Ways to Motivate Handwriting Practice

My son has special needs and seems to understand that he has difficulty with prewriting and handwriting skills. He can actually complete many activities his occupational therapist and I give him, but motivating him to practice for any length of time takes some creativity.

Here are three ways we’ve found to increase interest.

3 Ways to Motivate Handwriting Practice - plus tips for special needs and a review {undergodsmightyhand.com}

3 Ways to Increase Interest in Handwriting Practice

  1. Provide scaffolding. Offer a few ways to guide handwriting practice rather than just copying. You can draw the shape or letter first, then have your child go over your marking with a highlighter or marker. You can also draw bubble letters to provide a “box” for your child to write within. (See this post at I Can Teach My Child for other scaffolding ideas.)
  2. Integrate sensory options. My son is a sensory seeker and needs almost constant deep sensory input. Having your child draw (with a finger or with an implement) in sand, shaving cream, oobleck, etc. can increase interest. You can even write the letters/shapes on fine sandpaper or another textured surface and allow your child to trace it with a finger. The caution here: Sometimes the sensory method becomes too enticing and he can’t focus on writing! We have to balance this, which is really just trial-and-error so far for us.
  3. Use specific tools to change the writing surface. Through tablets, we have access to so many amazing writing and prewriting apps. My son loves several of those and thrives using them. However, he also knows what else sits on an iPad desktop (more games!), and that can be a bit distracting for him at times.

We were recently introduced to the Boogie Board LCD eWriter.

Review of the Boogie Board eWriter, plus tips for increasing interest in handwriting practice

This tablet-sized device is solely an LCD screen with a stylus. It’s easy to hold, thinner than most tablets, and feels very smooth to write on. You easily jot any note down, then erase it with a simple push of the button at the top of the device.

Most importantly for our situation: my son loves writing on this device.

How We Use the Boogie Board LCD eWriter for Handwriting Practice

  • Tracing – I write the letter or shape first, then my son traces over it. (My youngest practices, too!)
    Review of the Boogie Board eWriter, plus tips for increasing interest in handwriting practice
  • Copying – I first draw a model of the letter or shape, then my son draws one beside my model.
  • Connect-the-dots – I draw a simple connect-the-dot image, number the dots, then my son does the connecting—and practices different line directions at the same time!
  • Smiley faces – My son’s occupational therapist helped him draw a smiley face (“circle, dot, dot, smile”) with arms and legs and a simple body. She first drew with him using hand-over-hand assistance, then had him complete certain parts on his own in subsequent trials.
  • Mazes – I create simple mazes that change direction, add curves, and more. So far, he loves these the most out of any other writing exercises.

Review of the Boogie Board eWriter, plus tips for increasing interest in handwriting practice

We generally just practice for 5-15 minutes each time. I’m aiming for 3 times a week or more with this device right now. We also allow him to have freewriting time before and after each mini-session. He mainly just scribbles (and erases repeatedly), but he allows us to position the stylus correctly, so he’s still getting practice controlling a writing implement!

Review of the Boogie Board eWriter, plus tips for increasing interest in handwriting practice

A few considerations:

It’s marketed as an environmentally friendly-alternative to taking notes on paper, but with just an 8.5-inch screen and no way to save the notes, I’m not sure how practical it is for general/daily adult use. However, as evidenced above, this device has great potential for special needs populations, schools, and therapists. My son’s occupational therapist says she could see many therapists using this as an alternative to a tablet device. My husband (a public school teacher) says he’d love a class set of these to use for group work, silent class-wide answers, and in-class practice. (Although he did say they’d need to be twice the size and half the price.)

For us, this device offers enough screen-like input to interest my son to write, but without the extra distractions of a tablet. We’re glad to have it for handwriting practice!

We’re going to use this device during December when we use our Grapevine Studies packet for study on the Christmas story. We love the “Birth of Jesus” traceables for our preschoolers, and we can use the Boogie Board to motivate my son to do the tracing and perhaps even freehand drawing of the story figures. (This particular study from Grapevine is 20% off from now until December 15th!)

How do you motivate your beginning writer or child with special needs to practice handwriting?

Disclosure: I was provided a free copy of the Boogie Board LCD eWriter from Stone’s Education in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own, and I only share what I believe to be helpful or useful.

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I am an affiliate for Grapevine Studies. If you click on a Grapevine Studies link and then make a purchase, I receive a small commission. This does not affect your final cost at all. Thank you for supporting this blog and my family!

This post is also linked up with The Homeschool Village’s Ultimate Homeschool Link-UpHomeschool Creation’s Preschool and Kindergarten Corner, In Lieu of Preschool’s Tuesday Tots, UpsideDown Homeschooling’s Hearts for Home linkup, and the Weekly Kids Co-op, Show and Share Saturday, and .


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Books to help with one-to-one correspondence

Books for One-to-One Correspondence Counting

One-to-one correspondence counting is an important skill in the early learning years for a few reasons. Books to help with one-to-one correspondence

Read my post at The Library Adventure to find out why and read about five books that can motivate kids to practice this skill! While you’re there, share your favorite counting books and tips for one-to-one correspondence counting.

5 Steps to Introduce Science Basics to Preschoolers {undergodsmightyhand.com} - includes a list of other resources and experiments, too!

5 Steps to Introduce Science Basics to Preschoolers

Most of our “science” study to this point has been through living life: learning that a cool breeze feels pleasant on a warm day, food with steam coming off of it is too hot to touch, shade provides a cooler respite from the hot sunshine. But, taking time to understand foundational knowledge of learning science, how to use basic lab equipment, and the steps to experimenting helps us gain better ways to explore what’s around us.

Below are some of the concepts we’ve introduced so far (and a sneak peek to others we’re going to explore). We don’t introduce all these concepts at once, but over a week or two (or longer) to build foundational knowledge.

5 Steps to Introduce Science Basics to Preschoolers {undergodsmightyhand.com} - includes a list of other resources and experiments, too!

5 Steps to Introducing Science Basics to Preschoolers

  1. Allow free play. This step is one I constantly have to remind myself. I want to dive into the experiment, but I already know how to use the equipment and follow lab steps. My kids are just learning this process. When I brought out our new lab set, I first allowed free play. We named each piece within the lab set, and the kids handled each piece first. I then poured a little water into each test tube and the beaker. The kids poured between the test tubes, beaker, and flask and tested out the eyedropper. Five or ten minutes of free play before we began specific experiments helped them be ready to focus.
    5 Steps to Introduce Science Basics to Preschoolers {undergodsmightyhand.com}
  2. Concentrate on basic results (not too detailed yet), and focus more on becoming familiar with the process and gaining experience. Begin with a variety of experiments to engage multiple senses and incorporate various fine motor skills (pouring, gripping, squeezing, pre-scissor skills, etc.). Take time for hands-on experience with the process itself rather than obtaining a perfect outcome.
  3. Begin with great first experiments. Choose experiments geared towards preschoolers both in directions and components. Experiments with quick results help keep budding learners engaged and able to see the fruits of their work, as well as the process of an experiment. Choose experiments that expand on current knowledge and utilize observations children already witness in daily living. We did a simple color mixing experiment, a sink-or-float experiment, and inspected cereal and ants under a preschool-aged microscope in our first week.
    5 Steps to Introduce Science Basics to Preschoolers {undergodsmightyhand.com}
  4. Introduce predictions and charting results. For our sink-or-float experiment, I introduced a prediction chart. We described sink (“the object goes all the way to the bottom”) and float (“the object stays at the top of the water”), then predicted what each of our five objects would do. As we tested each one (the best part!), the kids told us if the object was sinking or floating, and I marked it appropriately. After more practice, we’ll let the kids mark their own charts, but this introduced the practice of recording results.
    5 Steps to Introduce Science Basics to Preschoolers {undergodsmightyhand.com}
  5. Try “instant” experiments first (like ones above), then complete experiments that take longer spans of time to complete. Experiments that take less than 15 minutes from start to finish allow preschoolers to stay focused, learn, but also see results without getting distracted. As your preschoolers understand the process of experimenting more, advance to more in-depth experiments, like growing seeds or mold explorations.

Special needs considerations: Kids with special needs can perform experiments, too! For our son, I often asked questions with multiple-choice answers to allow him to consider what he viewed and learned. We also helped him grade his motions more smoothly when using the eyedropper by using hand-over-hand assistance. I love that the activity cards included incorporate the sense of smell in a couple of experiments. I’ve read about the link between the olfactory system and increased neuron connections, so I’m excited to use this lab set to further his experiences.

5 Steps to Introduce Science Basics to Preschoolers {undergodsmightyhand.com}

Learning Resources Primary Science Lab Set and ViewScope

Thanks to Learning Resources and Stone’s Education Superstore, we were given the Primary Science Lab Set and ViewScope to review.

Review of Primary Science Lab Set and ViewScope

We love these sets!

I knew I would quickly fall in love with the lab set, but I’m ecstatic at how excited and engaged my kids are with this set. The set includes a beaker, magnifying glass, funnel, eyedropper, flask with stopper, tweezers, goggles, large 6″ test tube and stand, and two small test tubes with lids and stand. Like most Learning Resources materials, these pieces are durable and easy to clean. (Though, you might need to take a little longer time cleaning the eyedropper out after using colored liquids.) The lab set allowed us to provide a solid introduction of lab terms, and the set is definitely multi-use.

5 Steps to Introduce Science Basics to Preschoolers {undergodsmightyhand.com}

I love the set of ten experiment cards included! These ten experiments alone cover a variety of subjects within science and engage multiple senses (including sight, touch, and smell).

My only cautions so far: watch for how you place the lids back on the test tubes and hand wash after each use (especially when using scents or food coloring). For young hands, it can be a little difficult to tighten the test tube lids correctly which might result in slight leakage. We also placed a towel or two under our experimenting surface to make clean up even easier.

We were happily surprised with how well the ViewScope works! Not only does it provide experience in using a microscope, it actually magnifies! To test if my kids could actually see through the viewer, I wrote small letters on pieces of paper. If my kids could tell me what letter they saw, I knew they were looking through the microscope correctly and in focus. (Choose letters like “t” and “x” that look the same when inverted.)

5 Steps to Introduce Science Basics to Preschoolers {undergodsmightyhand.com}

We also caught a few ants and watched them under the microscope. Amazing! This ViewScope uses natural light (which is usually sufficient), so to see the ants in more detail, we pointed a flashlight at the disk. The scope potion can also be unhooked from the base to allow your young scientists to explore outside. This is a great tool for preschool through about 1st grade.

5 Steps to Introduce Science Basics to Preschoolers {undergodsmightyhand.com}

Look how much the ants are magnified! So cool!

Other Resources and Experiments

What do your preschoolers love studying in science right now?

Disclosure: I received the Primary Science lab set and ViewScope free from Stone’s Education in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own. I was not compensated in any other manner.

This post was featured at Homeschool Creations!

This post is also linked up with Homeschool Creation’s Preschool and Kindergarten CornerTuesday TotsToddler and Preschool Moms Pinning Party, the Weekly Kids Co-opShow and Share SaturdayFree Homeschool Deals’ Ultimate Pinterest Party, and Link & Learn.

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Learning Activities for Look Up! Bird-Watching in Your Own Backyard

Learning Activities for Books

We love book-based activities. With most of the kids’ units, I plan activities on a theme based on two to five books. The kids love learning about a topic through a book, then completing a few activities right after to help cement that knowledge. Learning Activities for Look Up! Bird-Watching in Your Own Backyard

At The Library Adventure today, my book-based post is linked up with The Poppins Book Nook, a link-up filled with book-based activities.

Join me at The Library Adventure today for learning activities to accompany Look Up! Bird-Watching In Your Own Backyard.

 

Tree Learning Activities for preschool and elementary, featuring the picture book, A Tree is NIce by Janice May Udry - also includes other tree learning activities from around the web and a book list! {undergodsmightyhand.com}

Tree Learning Activities {Accompanying A Tree is Nice by Janice May Udry}

Thankfully, most of us have access to a variety of trees in our communities. You may have to travel to a city park or a few miles away to get up close, but they’re accessible. Because of that accessibility and their varied functions, preschoolers love to learn about trees.

A Tree is Nice by Janice May Udry, illustrated by Marc Simont (HarperCollins, 1956) is a classic picture book exploring the many uses of trees. The book takes the reader through many activities held underneath, around, and because of trees (playhouses out of leaves, climbing trees, picking apples, planting trees, and more). In a simple manner, it causes the reader to realize how many uses a single tree can offer.

Tree Learning Activities for preschool and elementary, featuring the picture book, A Tree is NIce by Janice May Udry - also includes other tree learning activities from around the web and a book list! {undergodsmightyhand.com}

Tree Learning Activities

We love to read books, then do a few learning activities to gain hands-on knowledge and apply what we’ve learned to the environment around us.

An easy activity with this book is to pick a few of the actions within the book and either act them out in pretend play or actually do them!

A few more tree-focused activities (for preschool and early elementary ages) from around the web:

Other recommended tree books:

The Tree Lady: The True Story of How One Tree-Loving Woman Changed a City Forever by H. Joseph Hopkins, Illustrated by Jill McElmurry (Beach Lane Books, 2013)

The Tree Lady: The True Story of How One Tree-Loving Woman Changed a City Forever by H. Joseph Hopkins, Illustrated by Jill McElmurry (Beach Lane Books, 2013)

Forest Has a Song: Poems by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, Illustrated by Robbin Gourley (Clarion Books, 2013)

Forest Has a Song: Poems by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, Illustrated by Robbin Gourley (Clarion Books, 2013)

A Tree is a Plant by Clyde Robert Bulla, Illustrated by Stacey Schuett (HarperCollins, 2001)

A Tree is a Plant by Clyde Robert Bulla, Illustrated by Stacey Schuett (HarperCollins, 2001)

Seed to Plant by Kristin Baird Rattini (National Geographic Children’s Books, 2014)

Seed to Plant by Kristin Baird Rattini (National Geographic Children’s Books, 2014)

What trees grow in your area? What are your family’s favorite activities to do around trees?

This post is participating in the Poppins Book Nook series this month.

Poppins Book Nook

This post is also linked up with Homeschool Creation’s Preschool and Kindergarten CornerTuesday TotsToddler and Preschool Moms Pinning Party, the Weekly Kids Co-opShow and Share SaturdayFree Homeschool Deals’ Ultimate Pinterest Party, and Link & Learn.

The Weekly Kids Co-Op

I Can Teach My Child's Show and Share Saturday link-up

Disclosure: I am an affiliate for Signing Time. If you click on a Signing Time link and then make a purchase, I receive a small commission. This does not affect your final cost at all. Thank you for supporting this blog and my family!

Shop Signing Time

BundleoftheWeek.com, 5 eBooks for $7.40!