Tag Archives: Stone’s Education

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.

StonesLogo - Copy 300x135

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 .


The Weekly Kids Co-Op

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Using Brick Activities with Preschoolers {a review of Winter Brick Activities and More from Educating Laytons}

Tactile Winter Activities with Building Bricks {and announcements!}

A couple of months ago, I shared a new resource from Stef at Educating Laytons that combines a seasonal theme, learning activities, and brick building fun.

Stef (and her son! Love that he creates all the brick creations!) released a sequel: Winter Brick Activities and More!

Like with Fall Bricks, this new Winter Bricks download includes brick creations and extension activities. Winter Bricks shares 16 winter-related brick creations (one per page), plus activity ideas to extend the theme on most of the brick creation pages. This download includes general winter-theme activities, Christmas-related activities, and nativity-focused creations with Scripture excerpts.

I love the variety of extension activities includes on extra pages in this download, too, including literacy-focused activities, science activities incorporating research, and more. Plus, there’s a whole page with ideas on how you can give back and serve others this season!

Using Brick Activities with Preschoolers {a review of Winter Brick Activities and More from Educating Laytons}

Using Winter Brick Activities with Preschoolers

My two preschoolers have really enjoyed activities from both of these brick activity downloads so far. My oldest has a variety of special needs, and if you’d like to see how we modify the brick-building activities specifically for him, check out my explanation on this post.

My younger preschooler seems to be really getting into this brick activities, and she loves creating objects she recognizes.

While they may not be able to complete entire creations on their own yet, brick activities supplement foundational skills and provide opportunity for creative play. Even for the preschool crowd, this resource includes practice for fine motor skills, following directions, color recognition, counting practice, context transfer, and more.

We worked on the “star” and “penguin” creations so far, and we’ll be completing the “angel” and more soon!

Using Brick Activities with Preschoolers {a review of Winter Brick Activities and More from Educating Laytons}

Click here to view more details and purchase “Winter Brick Activities and More!” created by Educating Laytons. Winter Bricks is normally $4.99, but you can save $1 with coupon code: “BeMerry” through December 31st! (Enter the coupon code without the quotation marks at checkout.)

Plus, 50% of their proceeds will go to Samaritan’s Purse and their clean water efforts. How awesome is that?

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Two More Announcements

The Library Adventure

If you haven’t visited The Library Adventure yet, click on over and check out the great book reviews, book-based activities, library tips, and more. I feature tips for library visits and book for kids with special needs monthly. Today, I have a “Books for Kids with Special Needs” gift guide post up. Want a few picture book recommendations for kids in your life? This list includes multiple books to help kids in various developmental areas. Plus, kids of all abilities can benefit from reading these books.

The Library Adventure

Stone’s Education Superstore

Earlier this year, I entered in a partnership with Stone’s Education Superstore. Stone’s Education is a North Carolina-based education store catering to public school teachers, early childhood educators, and homeschooling families. With over 20,000 products in store, they offer a huge variety of brands and product offerings that aren’t as easily found in general stores. Plus, they have an extensive catalog online anyone can order from!

StonesLogo - Copy 300x135

I still stand by their customer service. I’ve ordered from Stone’s for several years, and every single time I’ve contacted them, I received friendly and extremely helpful service. Give them a call or send an email for personalized help. You can also follow their page on Facebook to learn about specials and current discounts.

Most recently, Stone’s moved into a brand-new building! I had to chance to tour this gorgeous building before opening:

New building for Stone's Education!

I LOVE all the natural light in the new store!

And after opening:

New building for Stone's Education!

This is just one half of the store, the “toys” side. The other half houses teacher materials and aisles specific to certain subjects.

As one of the owners said, Stone’s has been a great company for a long time, but their old building was like the caterpillar and cocoon, and this new building is like the transformation into a butterfly! It’s gorgeous, spacious, light-filled, and a beautiful, useful place to house dedicated employees and products.

In this new store, the Stone’s staff is excited to offer a reading nook. (I’m in love!) This space allows kids to read, demo toys, explore, and snuggle with some awesomely big stuffed animals.

New building for Stone's Education!

Customers will find several more demo areas throughout the store, as well. The staff wants you to come in and play at multiple demo stations available. Even with just a couple of weeks in this new space, the Stone’s staff has already managed to create a fresh, fun atmosphere joining with their long-standing reliable reputation.

I spoke with Carol, one of the owners, about the new offerings, and she said: “The biggest difference in the store itself is the addition of so many toys and games. We figured so many of our current customers were parents, even if they were also teachers and care givers. Now we’ll be more to them, with a more interesting mix of products that can be found anywhere in one place!”

If you’re in North Carolina or traveling through, visit Stone’s at their new location. If you’re elsewhere, Stone’s has all they offer in store (and more) online, and their stellar customer service is available over the phone or email.

How do you use building bricks with your preschool (or older) kids? What do you love about your favorite educational store?

Disclosure: Affiliate links are included above. If you purchase this ebook through one of these links, I will receive commission. This does not affect your cost. Thanks for supporting this site and my family! I was also given a copy of this download for free for review purposes. All opinions expressed are my own, and I only share resources we personally use or believe to be useful for others.

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

The Weekly Kids Co-Op

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

Summer Fit Workbook Review via Under God's Mighty Hand

One Way to Keep Brains and Bodies Active This Summer {A Review, An Announcement, and A Giveaway!}

Whether you homeschool or your kids go to public school, we all want our children to retain learned information over breaks. What if you could combine content and fitness in one activity?

Summer Fit Workbook Review via Under God's Mighty Hand

Summer Fit – Keeping Brains and Bodies Active!

Summer Fit Workbook Review via Under God's Mighty Hand I was recently introduced to a new series of workbooks called Summer Fit. These workbooks are similar in style to the Summer Bridge series while aiming for a comprehensive approach integrating fitness, wellness, and character values. (Disclosure: I received a copy of this workbook for free in exchange for my honest review. See the bottom of this post for full disclosure details.)

 

Why include fitness in your summer review? Here’s what the Summer Fit introduction has to say…

Summer Fit Workbook Review via Under God's Mighty Hand

Each workbook includes 8 weeks of daily activities (5 days a week). The goal is for students to review learned information in about 2 pages a day, taking about 20 minutes. The beginning page of each week’s information includes a parent’s guide and summary of information covered. Each week offers a value focus (like courage or self-discipline) and highlights a historical role model.

Each day offers a mini-exercise challenge for the day, plus a healthy habit tip (see the top header of the page in this photo).

Summer Fit Workbook Review via Under God's Mighty Hand

From a fitness standpoint, the exercises are quick and won’t do as much to drastically improve your child’s fitness, but the exercises are fun and they motivate children to move on a daily basis (an extremely important habit to encourage). My guess is many kids will complete the exercises for a lot longer than 90 seconds. We tried the “gorilla walk,” and my fella had fun trying it with his daddy. (Exercise descriptions are explained in the back of the workbook.)

Summer Fit Workbook Review via Under God's Mighty Hand

For the Preschool to Kindergarten version, students work on:

  • Handwriting
  • Letter identification
  • Phonics sounds
  • Applying information to objects
  • Emotions
  • Pre-math skills
  • Introduction to the concept of time
  • Matching activities
  • Basic science ideas
  • And more…

I am very pleased with the variety of activities included and skills addressed.

My son is just a little young for this workbook, but we were able to easily adapt many of the activities for his level and special needs. For example, since my son can’t talk, I called out names of the shapes, and he pointed to the correct shape. We then wrote the shape name together.

Summer Fit Workbook Review via Under God's Mighty Hand

For activities like “draw a happy face,” I drew both a happy and sad face and asked him to circle the happy one. (I was excited about his circle! He did pretty well!)

Summer Fit Workbook Review via Under God's Mighty Hand

Using this workbook also helps me gauge what activities we need to address in future months.

Not only is this workbook good for student practice, but it’s also a crash course in healthy habits for your family. The first eleven pages include information on healthy habits and success over summer or breaks. The last twenty pages include fitness and wellness tips, printables, descriptions of the weekly and daily exercises included, recipes, and a variety of flashcards.

We’re not much of a workbook family, but my son is loving this workbook! He picks it up on his own, flips through it, and usually sits with me without hesitation to work through a page or two. We plan to use it to supplement our current preschool activities. Whether you homeschool or go to school on a traditional or year-round schedule, this workbook is a great addition.

Beginning this June, the Summer Fit website will be offering supplemental activities for further learning. The Summer Fit series has Preschool-Kindergarten levels all the way through 7th-8th grade levels. (You can also download samples of each grade level on their website.)

Thanks to Stone’s Education, I’m able to giveaway one copy of the Kindergarten-1st grade version of Summer Fit to one of you! (That’s the grade level above what I reviewed.) This giveaway is open from Wednesday, April 24th through 11:59pm (EDT) Tuesday, April 30th, 2013. (If you’re an email subscriber, click through to access the Rafflecopter widget on the blog.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms of Giveaway: This giveaway is open to US residents only and will end at the end of the day April 30, 2013 (EDT). All entrants must be 18 years old or older. Enter through the Rafflecopter above. Incomplete entries will be deleted. Once a winner is selected, I will contact them via email. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, I will select another winner.

An Announcement

This review and giveaway also marks the beginning of something exciting! I’ve recently entered into a partnership with Stone’s Education Superstore. Stone’s Education is a North Carolina-based education store catering to public school teachers, early childhood educators, and homeschooling families. With over 20,000 products in store, they offer a huge variety of brands and product offerings that aren’t as easily found in general stores. Plus, they have an extensive catalog online anyone can order from! Even bigger than their product selection is their customer service. Every single time I’ve contacted them, I received friendly and extremely helpful service. The employees know their stuff! Give them a call or send an email for personalized help. Follow their page on Facebook to learn about specials and current discounts, too!

As part of this partnership, you’ll find their logo on my sidebar. (Click on their image anytime you visit to access their website!) We’ll also be bringing you some unique product reviews and a few giveaways, too! (Subscribe to email updates if you’d like to keep up with the upcoming awesomeness!)

How do you help your children retain information over breaks? What would you hope to get out of the Summer Fit series?

Disclosure: I was provided a copy of the P-K version of Summer Fit free from Stone’s Education for review purposes. I have a partnership with Stone’s Education for product reviews and resources. I am not compensated monetarily for this review. I only share about products I value and believe would benefit readers. All opinions expressed are my own.

This post is also linked up with The Homeschool Village’s Ultimate Homeschool Link-Up and Tender Moments with Toddlers and Preschoolers at Teaching Mama.

The Homeschool Village