Friday, October 16, 2015

Week 6: Writing Progress!

Early this week, I stopped at Michael's craft store intending to buy $2 worth of wood for a DIY project. I finally made it out of the store $18 later by begging my son to not let me look at anything else.

One of my impulse buys was sand for our sand tray. DJ had accidentally spilled all the sand a little while ago and although I had more white sand to fill it, I just wasn't inspired to do so. Then I passed the craft sand aisle at Michael's this week and saw a variety of color choices. I asked DJ to choose the color he wanted a and he chose pink!

When we arrived home, I just placed the shopping bag on the table, in no hurry to use anything in it at the time. But DJ immediately grabbed it, asking where the sand was! He has been completely uninterested in writing for some time now, but because of pink sand, he HAD to write that very moment!

You'll notice in these pictures that he's written a fairly decent d & a. But on both, he added the lead line after he wrote the letter. This is one area that I dislike about cursive. Lead lines change depending on the letter that precedes the one you're writing but all of the commonly available sandpaper letters include them as if they are part of the letter. I had actually scraped the sand off many of the lead lines on my sandpaper letters but the line is still faintly visible. DJ has decided they are a necessary part of the letter but since I've taught him to start at the top of the circle for d & a, he doesn't know how to write the lead line unless he adds it afterwards. *sigh*

The interest in the sand tray gave me an opening to encourage him to actually trace some of the sandpaper letters. Although he used them to learn to recognize all the letter symbols, he did very little actual tracing. So he knows what the letters look like but not how to write them. In this picture I've laid similar letters next to each other, l, f, b, & k so he could compare their similarities and differences. He traced each of them several times.

Continuing with the sandpaper letters, I laid out most of the green double phonograms. These are the letter symbols that DJ is weakest on. For each card, I placed a miniature object with that sound in its name. So for /ee/ there is a jeep and for /or/ an orca, etc. We then played a game where I would instruct DJ to either take the object or card with a particular sound. When he had taken them all I then laid out the cards again and handed DJ one object at a time to place on its corresponding card. I was really impressed with DJ's endurance with this game!

After finishing with letters, we switched to math and practiced counting from 30-39. DJ is still slow with this but he's starting to notice the pattern and is definitely appreciating no new vocabulary. I'm taking our time with it though. I want to be sure he's understanding what 36 means rather than just memorizing a sequence of numbers.

DJ then needed some "easy" work to relax with so he entertained himself with his lacing cards. He has gotten very skilled at removing the thread which is something he was unable to do when these were new.

On Friday our new chalkboards, chalk & sponges arrived. I bought the large green chalkboard from Alison's Montessori. The chalk stubs and tiny sponges came from Handwriting Without Tears. And the small slate chalkboard was another of my Michael's impulse purchases. In the photo, you see that DJ has written the letter e and now is erasing it with a tiny wet sponge. This method of clearing the board is great for added writing practice because he uses the same hand motions with the sponge as with the chalk.

In this video you can see the whole process from tracing #3, to writing it to erasing it with the sponge. You'll also notice that DJ is beginning to describe verbally how to write each character too. He often needs me to "talk him through" writing a new letter or number. In this video, he talks himself through #3 - he's not repeating something he's heard from me!

Finally, to my amazement, this is how DJ chose to write the letter c when given the space on the green board! And what's even more incredible is that DJ wrote this "upside down"! He was standing on the opposite side of the bench from me and wanted to draw it the way I would see it. I've heard of very young writers being able to write and recognize letters up, down, left & right but it still surprises me to see it.

After all that writing, DJ needed a change of pace. He first selected the Constructive Triangle Box #1. That box had a green square, gray rectangle, yellow rhombus, red trapezoid, 2 different yellow parallelograms and another different green parallelogram.

He then opened Box #2. He placed the matching blue shapes from the box over the rectangle, rhombus, trapezoid & square as you see in the picture. At that point he asked me why Box #2 didn't also have triangles to make the 3 parallelograms. Then I reminded him, if he took the 2 triangles making the blue rectangle and slid one triangle over to the next side of the other triangle, you'd get one of the three parallelograms. Then sliding to the third side gets you the second parallelogram. Doing the same sliding with the square gets you the third parallelogram.

DJ was impressed! He worked with the rectangle pieces for a long time, sliding them around over and over again repeating to himself "rectangle, parallelogram, other parallelogram, rectangle again". I have to admit I was pretty impressed too. These are things I don't think I've ever been overtly aware of even though they make total sense now that I'm seeing them.

Since DJ was so engaged, I decided on a whim to present the third Constructive Triangle Box. This one has a large gray equilateral triangle. Then two green right-angled triangles that combine to be the same size and shape as the gray equilateral. Then there are 3 obtuse isosceles triangles that also equal the gray. And finally, four small, red equilateral triangles.

After working with Box 1, DJ recognized the function of the black line on each one and did most of this "presentation" himself after I showed him the first step. I could really see the wheels spinning in his head as he worked.

But then I pushed it too far and tried to present the new vocabulary connected with this box which includes base, vertex, amplitude/height, center & midpoint. DJ shut me down quickly when he realized I was trying to teach him new words and the boxes were summarily returned to the shelf haha!

So after what felt to me like a very light school week, now that I see it in print I realize that we accomplished A LOT!! You'll also notice the trampoline in the background this week. As the weather gets colder and wetter, I'm once again seeing a greater need to consciously add gross motor activity into our day. I don't like having the trampoline in our tiny living room, but he's much more likely to use it than when it's upstairs in his room.

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