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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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NIrV Adventure Bible for Early Readers (Zonderkidz)

For Your Reading Adventurers {Review – NIrV Adventure Bible for Early Readers}

Our kids are really into reading by themselves right now, particularly picture books and early readers. They both love to pick up their The Beginner’s Bible for reading on their own, as well as thumb through a few other Bibles we have around.

The updated version of Zonderkidz’s NIrV Adventure Bible for Early Readers (Zondervan, 2014) offers a great “next step up” for young Bible reading. NIrV Adventure Bible for Early Readers (Zonderkidz)

We all (adults and kids) love the full color aspects and the fonts used in this Bible.

The introduction is written towards the young reader, rather than the parent or teacher who might be reading with the child. This tactic lets the child know this Bible is for them to read, learn, and love. We love both the application and study pieces in this Bible, and it might have quickly become a favorite in our house.

Study Aspects

  • Each book begins with one page offering an introduction to the book itself. These introductions answer who wrote the book, why the book was written, what we learn about God from the book, who is important in the book, when the events in the book occurred, where they occurred, and some of the highlights in the book. I love how this offers a “first” version of a study Bible.
  • Each book offers numerous “Did You Know?” features that define a term or phrase or explain a historical tidbit.
  • The “Life in Bible Times” sections describe cultural history in about a paragraph to help the reader understand some Scriptural references and cultural differences.
  • The “People in Bible Times” sidebars highlight a person within that chapter and summarize who he/she was and his/her actions or status.
  • I love that this Bible includes a subject index, a dictionary, and eight full-color study maps (not simplified version). These tools help kids learn how to use a study Bible.

Application Features

  • Through each book are “Words to Treasure” sidebars highlighting a verse from within that chapter. These verses would be great to study deeper as a family or memorize.
  • The “Live It!” sections within each book offer the most reflective application. Each feature summarizes an event the reader just read and asks questions or gives activity ideas to help the reader decide how he/she might respond in a similar situation. Particularly when paired with parent discussion, these activities can foster reflection and growth. Most of the activities seem to be geared towards early- to mid-elementary ages.
  • In a few places, readers will find special sections that emphasize key themes of the Bible and questions for application. In the OT, a 4-page section summarizes the ten commandments, refers to various Bible themes (and accompanying verses), and highlights famous prophets. Another section talks about how to pray. Another section shares a poem on the twelve disciples.

We love the NIrV translation, and my husband and I even compare this version to our “adult” versions at times to gather new perspectives. This Bible is beautifully presented and filled with helpful and interesting resources.

How do your younger children study the Bible? What tools are their favorites to use?

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this Bible from the publisher and BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own. I was not compensated in any other way.

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Graham Blanchard Spring bundle faith board books

Questions, Analogies, and Truth {Book Review – Graham Blanchard family books}

Along with all the many kinds of picture books we love and learn from, our family also enjoys faith-based picture books. Like non-fiction inspirational books for adults, using faith-focused picture books can be a beneficial addition to family bible study.

Last fall, I had the opportunity to review a board book bundle from new publishers, Graham Blanchard. (Click here to see my explanation of Graham Blanchard’s organizing structure, plus my reviews of four of their books.)

Graham Blanchard Spring bundle faith board booksThis month, Graham Blanchard released their “Spring bundle,” which includes three board books:

  • Close as a Breath (by Callie Grant, Illustrated by Sarah Ackerley) – Soft, playful illustrations feature fun scenes between a father and daughter exploring nature. The little girl asks her dad several questions about the world around her (“why does water freeze?” and “what makes white clouds sail so free?”). Her father offers brief explanations (that teach readers, too). Together, they discuss that God is in all of nature around us, as its Creator, and a very present force in our own lives. The rhythm of the text is a bit odd at points, with slightly uneven rhyming schemes and line lengths, but toddlers and preschoolers won’t mind as they explore this book with a parent. The illustrations offer active story line, and the text provides the faith-focused discussion between father and child.
  • Little Seed: A Life (by Callie Grant, Illustrated by Suzanne Etienne) – My kids were fascinated by these illustrations. Vibrant colors with lots of lines keep your eyes searching the page for new details. This allegorical story follows a seed that waits until its time to sprout into a beautiful sunflower, then completing its purpose (given by God) to drop more seeds for more life. Find discussion tips for parents to use on the publisher’s website to help your toddler and preschool understand the meaning of the story.
  • Jesus Saves Me (by Callie Grant, Illustrated by Jodie Stowe) – This book is part of the “learn” series and focuses on Scripture. Focusing on John 10:14-15, each two-page fold features a photograph of young children or a flock of sheep. The opposite page of the fold highlights one verse (or portion of a verse), plus a small, continued explanation of how shepherds care for a flock of sheep and how God cares for each of us, His flock. The explanations are written at an appropriate level for preschoolers and can spur on more family discussion about faith.

You can view the spring pack here.

Now that I’ve reviewed Graham Blanchard’s current books, I still want to watch this company to see how they grow. These books offer sound information for young children to begin understanding and exploring their faith, plus provide quality time reading as a family. I’d love to see if this publisher begins using a variety of authors.

Our favorite book of all seven so far is Jesus Shows Me (which I reviewed here). This book offers the best correlation between highlighted Scripture and nonfiction information in the most well-written manner of all the books.

What are your favorite faith-focused picture books?

Disclosure: I received a free copy of the books in the Spring bundle from Graham Blanchard in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own. I was not compensated in any other way.

A Year of Changes, Growth, and Now {the year in review} - includes links for family, homeschool, faith, and special needs

A Year of Changes, Now, and a Review

A Year of Changes, Growth, and Now {the year in review} - includes links for family, homeschool, faith, and special needs

This year brought some big changes to this blog, and I’ve been thankful to make this journey with those of you reading! These changes were brought about by my focus on now and on reminding myself that God is over all of my life, be it my writing, my Bible study, our home life, my kids’ development… ALL of it. In this reminding, I’ve found myself so much more intentional. And I’m loving the effects (though still with stumbles!) of that presence. A little review of 2013 here on this blog:

Reader Favorites in Homeschool posts:

Some of my favorite homeschool posts:

  • Honestly, the ones in the list above were some of my very favorites to write!
  • I also love anything we do that is book-based. My kids and I have very much enjoyed all our sensory bins, too.

Reader Favorites in Faith posts (and, really, my favorites, too):

This was just over Christmas break, but I recently wrote at Do Not Depart about what I was learning from the shepherds in our advent reading this year. The post is Repeat the Joy.

Favorite Books I Read This Year:

Check my GoodReads page for more books I read this year.

What’s coming up in 2014:

  • More free printables! (Including printables with color blocks, light table printables, and more)
  • Posts and discussion on focusing on God and trusting His love and presence
  • Themed units (watch for a preschool winter unit in the coming weeks!) and book-based units
  • Candid, real reflections on faith and family with invitations for you to join in the conversation
  • More book reviews (with some amazing books already planned)

More resources from around the web on family, faith, fitness, special needs, and more through my free quarterly newsletter, The Family Notepad. Sign up here!

The Family Notepad - a free quarterly newsletter filled with resources for family, homeschool, and faith!

Happy New Year! What would you like to see more of on this blog? What’s most helpful to you and your family? Leave a comment below and let me know!

Review – Seeds Family Worship music

Seeds Family Worship has been creating family worship music for several years now, and their name and ministry pops up over and over again in blogs, on Twitter, and the internet-sphere. So, I finally checked them out!

And I love the music they create and offer to families.

I’ve listened to the “Power of Encouragement” and “Seeds of Character (Vol. 6)” albums. Each song’s lyrics contains basically only the verse the song is based on. I love that! Worship music can take many beautiful forms, but I especially love when God’s Word is set to good, solid, catchy, interesting music. Seeds Family Worship accomplishes such.

Each song on a CD has a little bit of a different sound to it. Many songs carry a faster, upbeat tempo, while a few offer a slower-paced style. Because of using only Scripture as lyrics, these songs create a great opportunity to memorize Scripture – for adults and kids!

“Think About It” off of the “Power of Encouragement” album quickly became one of my favorites. This likeable, memorable song uses Philippians 4:8 for its base: Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” The song is already helping me memorize the list of excellent thoughts in that verse!

While my toddler son isn’t going to be memorizing Scripture just yet, he bounces, giggles, and dances when a new song begins. (He loves a song with a strong rhythm.) My husband and I have both listened to the songs some on our own too! Having God’s Word on our hearts in such an easy-to-recall form as song helps us renew our minds and hearts to Him and sharing His love.

Their website also gives a few activity ideas to go along with some of their songs. The ministry also offers a monthly newsletter. I haven’t subscribed to it yet, but the website states it provides even more family activities.

Questions for you: What’s some of your favorite family worship music or “bible-verse-set-to-song” music? Any other recommendations? What’s your opinion on Seeds Family Worship music, if you’ve listened to it before?



Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”