Technology is an undeniable fact of everyday life and can support students’ learning. But there are limits to that: Completely replacing handwriting instruction with keyboarding instruction in elementary school can be detrimental to students’ literacy acquisition. Why are handwriting and letter formation so important?
Research has demonstrated a correlation between letter-naming and letter-writing fluency, and a relationship between letter-naming fluency and successful reading development. There’s a strong connection between the hand and the neutral circuitry of the brain – as students learn to write the critical features of letters, they also learn to recognize them more fluently. This recognition of letters lead to greater letter-writing fluency, which leads to greater overall reading development.
Many of your child’s daily activities—like getting dressed, eating, and writing—require control of small muscles in the hands.
We call these skills fine motor skills.
Your child can do more things for himself when he has opportunities to practice these skills.
There are lots of activities that can increase muscle strength and coordination, preparing children for more advanced skills, from writing with a pencil, using a computer mouse, or playing a musical instrument.
For this activity, we used our fine motor skills to create these fun Heart Trees!
Using beads and their fingers, students were encouraged to slide the beads onto their trees.
Since we are learning about Valentines Day, we decided to create our very own Lego hearts! To accomplish this, your little one was given a picture of a Lego heart as a visual organizer.
We then sorted our Legos into the various shapes on the heart. This activity fulfilled several developmental tasks. First, your little one learned about the various shapes of Legos by pairing the visual shape with the three-dimensional object.
Secondly, we discussed several vocabulary words, such as right, left, on top, and around. Lastly, your budding mathematician practiced several premath skills, such as patterning and sequence making.
After magnetic rocks were found in the desert centuries ago, people have tinkered around with them and found all sorts of inventive ways to use the push and pull of polarized materials. You’ll find magnets everywhere these days, even colorful magnetic alphabet letters.
For this activity, your little ones learned about what magnetism is and how it works.
First, it was explained that when magnetism was first documented, the Greek philosopher Thales of Milletus (585 BC) noticed that a certain stone (called lodestone) stuck to metals made with iron. Other materials, such as rubber and wood, didn’t have that effect. Your little one would soon discover why! They were then handed a magnetic wand. Next, it was explained that some things would stick to the magnet, while others would not.
Following this, students were given a variety of different materials, noting how some stuck to the wand, while others fell off. Lastly, your budding magnetic masters were given a plastic bottle filled with pipe cleaners in the shape of hearts, watching with glee as they stuck to their wands!
This activity allowed all of us to become scientists! Using baking soda, vinegar, water, and conversation hearts, we learned how to make candy dance!
Students first added a tablespoon of baking soda to their bowls, stirring, and watching it dissolve with the water. Then they carefully picked out a conversation heart and dropped them into the solution. Holding a ramekin, your little ones slowly poured in about 1/4 cup of vinegar.
Then we sat back and watched with super excitement as the hearts began bobbing up, down and all around the cup. When baking soda is added to the solution, carbon dioxide gas bubbles begin forming. These gas bubbles stick to the conversation hearts, pulling them up as they rise to the surface. When the gas bubbles burst, the hearts fall back down until enough bubbles form to pull it back up again. The up and down movement makes it appear as though the hearts are wriggling and dancing.
Using paper hearts, we learned about measurement, counting, and numbers! To begin with, each child was given five paper hearts with various numbers written on them.
They then placed a number of paper hearts onto each paper, counting as they did so. After this, we talked about what the various numbers look like. Lastly, we recounted our hearts to double check our answers!
By counting, young children gain an understanding of concrete relationships.
Students also learn that each object gets one number. In gaining insight of these relationships, they acquire a basic understanding of the abstract.
Children at this age also need such experiences to relay abstract concepts.
They may look at a number on a piece of paper, but not make the association between that number and an amount.
Children (and adults) learn best and retain the most information when they engage their senses.
By giving children the opportunity to investigate materials with no preconceived knowledge, they develop and refine their cognitive, social and emotional, physical, creative and linguistic skillsets.
For this activity, we searched for hearts and letter Hs in bins of red tinsel.
Once these items were located, your little ones were directed to place their Hs onto Hs that were drawn on the sidewalk, and their hearts into heart-shaped bowls.
The primary cognitive skills sharpened by this sensory play were problem solving and decision making; students were presented with a problem and various materials with which to find a solution.
This activity also allowed your budding writers to be in complete control of their actions and experiences, which boosted their confidence in decision making and inspired their eagerness to learn and experiment.
This kind of sensory play also teaches kids about cooperation and collaboration.
As the children work together or side by side, they learn to understand someone else’s viewpoint.