By the SPED Homeschool Team

 

Teaching Social Skills and Character Training While Out-N-About

“With four boys born in under six years, it was easiest to do school at home, so I didn’t have to corral them during lessons. We did stuff outdoors, were part of a co-op, took classes through a local homeschool group where I taught and went on a lot of field trips. When out of the house, we were always learning, but rarely “did school” during those times. When we were out, my time was better spent on things like teaching my boys that it is not appropriate for the first person in line to decide he is the engine of a runaway freight train and take the entire line careening through a building. Once I had my special needs child, a lot of our outside activities were replaced with appointments and therapy for a time. Then it became obvious that having struggling learners and children with special needs meant participating in co-ops and such were a no go. We focused on the “home” in homeschool and turned to pursuing individual passions.”

Stephanie Buckwalter

 

Using Carschooling, Games, and Therapy While Out-N-About

“For a couple of years, we carschooled and schooled on the go while waiting for multiple doctors appointments. We used some physical curriculum, but also educational games and videos. School now includes therapy (OT, PT and Speech), field trips to the library, grocery store, park, and the homes of other family members. On Wednesdays, we do music (I drive multiple trips), so my kids do school with cousins, joining in with whatever they are working on along with music lessons. Different days bring different approaches, but the bottom line is they are still learning and growing, sometimes when we think we aren’t doing enough.” 

Amy Vickrey

 

Other Ideas for Where You Can Homeschool Out-N-About

List provided by Dawn Spence:

  • At the pool
  • At friends’ homes
  • Library 
  • Coffee house 
  • Zoo 
  • Museums 
  • Church 
  • On vacation
  • At the Great Wolf Lodge
  • Doctor offices
  • Hospitals 
  • Backyard 
  • Park
  • Pool 
  • At hotels
  • Restaurants 
  • Grandma’s house 
  • At the movies 

 

List provided by Peggy Ployhar:

  • Campgrounds
  • Historical sites
  • Grocery store
  • Garden
  • Beach
  • On a cruise
  • While living in our RV
  • On a farm
  • While hiking
  • Martial arts studio
  • Pottery studio
  • Dance studio
  • On our sailboat
  • In a tree
  • Hardware store
  • Antique store
  • Bookstores

 

We hope these quotes and ideas from our team have inspired your family to learn and homeschool out-n-about this summer and into your next homeschooling year.

 

 

 


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By Teresa Jones from BiblioPlan

 

“Would you like to learn to write with a feather?” The park guide asked, while handing my daughter a quill and a little jar of ink. She curiously accepted the feather and scratched out her name on a weathered-looking piece of parchment. This was one of the first beautiful spring days and we were fortunate enough to be attending a homeschool program at a historical fort. But I kept glancing at the time and asking myself a crucial question: Could we race home soon enough to get a full day of school work done so we wouldn’t fall behind?

 

I was making a critical mistake when it comes to homeschooling and I don’t want you to do the same.

 

How to make the most of your field trip:

  1.  Plan ahead. If you’re going to an art museum to see the newest exhibit, take a few minutes to learn about the artist. Heading to a Civil War battlefield? Learn why this battle was important in the war. Your children don’t need to memorize every detail. They don’t need to be studying the topic as part of their normal schoolwork. They will learn while on the field trip, but it would be helpful for them to have a framework of the significance of the location.
  2. What can we ask? When planning field trips when my children were younger, I’d ask this simple question on the drive there. “What questions can we ask while we are on our field trip?” This challenged my kids to think about what they knew and what they wanted to know. In addition, it also prepared them up for some interaction while on the field trip. We’d decide what were good questions and then make sure we learned the answers while on the field trip.  
  3. Ask for accommodations if necessary. If you have any special concerns, don’t worry about contacting the place of your field trip ahead of time. Remember, they want you to have a great experience and will be glad to help you with any arrangements to make that happen. For years, I had wanted to take my children to a Civil War encampment and battle reenactment, but I knew my daughters would hate the loud blasts and burnt smell that come from the paper cartridges during the battle reenactment. So year after year, I’d pass on the event. Finally, one year, I asked the organizers if there was a way for us to experience the civil war encampment, but not the loud and smelly blasts. Their solution was simple: come the day before when everyone is setting up their camps. It was perfect! We walked through the encampment and talked to the men and women as they set up. They were happy to explain what they were doing and answer all of our questions. It’s always great to learn from people who are enthusiastic and knowledgeable about a subject. Their lively interest is contagious!
  4. For all the special accommodations and prep work, make sure you find a balance. Don’t become that pushy parent who insists their child “demonstrate” their knowledge on the field trip. Don’t force your child to shoot their arm up at every question asked. Don’t expect them to thoughtfully consider every piece of artwork. Don’t use the field trip as a chance for them to show off their knowledge to others.
  5. And finally my last tip, the advice I wished I had followed at that historical fort when my daughter was writing with a quill: relax and enjoy it! I was so worried about “getting our school work done” that I forgot the reason we were at that fort in the first place, to learn and to have a great time doing it! Everyone will have fun and learn even more if you’re not stressed about hurrying home to get some schoolwork done! The field trip IS your school work for the day! Enjoy the break from the usual routine.

 

As I send my oldest off to college this fall, I realize the number of field trips in my future are dwindling. The days spent wandering through art museums or riding a wagon through an apple orchard are coming to a close. Those field trip memories are some of the highlights of our homeschool days. 

 

Teresa Jones has been homeschooling for nearly 10 years. Her oldest daughter will be a college freshman in the fall and her younger daughter will be a high school sophomore. She represents BiblioPlan at homeschool conventions and online. She also teaches one of BiblioPlan’s online history classes. Her family’s favorite field trip was the Homeschool Day at Fort Ticonderoga.

 

 

 


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by Steven Policastro from the International Association for Creation

 

There are many great ways to engage in interactive learning. One that is readily accessible is using the world-class museums, zoos, and aquariums in most major cities around the world. Taking time to engage and learn through interactive and immersive contexts is critical in helping today’s youth experience the world. 

 

When engaging in interactive learning opportunities through, what the author calls the Immersive Learning Method, there are numerous considerations to take into account. You will want to ensure that you have the proper checklist to prepare for going to the museum. With all the things happening day-to-day, it can be easy to forget about packing a lunch, checking to see accessibility options at the museum, or bringing a notebook and pencil, etc. Below, you will find the Museum Accessibility Checklist to help you plan and prepare.

 

Often, a checklist is simply a last-minute tool to ensure you have prepared adequately for the adventure ahead. Before making those last-minute checks, you must plan accordingly, whether thinking forward about parking, tours, or other special considerations. The Museum Accessibility Guide is a bonus to help make museums accessible for children with special educational and accessibility needs.

 

Now that you know the tools you need to engage effectively with your children at the museum through interactive learning, please continue reading to learn about the Immersive Learning Method and how to use it most effectively.

 

To employ the Immersive Learning Method for your family or group, you will want to take your time going through each exhibit you visit. To take full advantage of this learning method, you will want to ensure that you take adequate time to observe each display. For example, we often find ourselves going through museums quickly due to the excitement of seeing which exhibits are up ahead. However, it is best to refrain from doing so and take time to look at each detail of the exhibition.

 

The reason for practicing the Immersive Learning Method is that it allows us to appreciate the details and intricacies of each exhibit display. It also allows our children to practice observation and critical thinking skills. By observing an art piece at a museum for one minute, you might have a general overview of the artifact. Still, by observing it for ten minutes or twenty minutes, you will gain a greater appreciation for the piece and a deeper understanding of what the exhibit is depicting, thus providing for a deeper conversation with your family or group.

 

As you prepare for your tour, use the checklist and guide below while also integrating the Immersive Learning Method to help make your day of adventure complete.

 

In today’s world of social media and screen-based learning, it is vital to ensure that you and your children are engaging in interactive learning. We know the One who created the world, God Almighty. He has fashioned every image-bearer with the innate ability to have awe and wonder as we participate in His world.

 

In partnership with IAC, SPED Homeschool welcomes you to download the Museum Accessibility Checklist and the Museum Accessibility Guide to help you get the most out of your museum experience.

 

Steven Policastro is the Founder and Director at the International Association for Creation.

 

 

 


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by Zack Edwards from Historical Conquest

 

Kids these days are bombarded with flashy pictures, jaw-dropping special effects, and other influences that help excite their minds and keep their attention; then, they are asked to sit in a boring classroom or look at a book and read something that they are not that interested in. It is truly a struggle to keep youths interested in doing schoolwork, with so many other opportunities around them. Why not help them with the best of both worlds?!

 

Hello, my name is Zack Edwards, and when I left high school, I hated many of my classes because of how they were taught. Educational materials could not hold my interest, this was besides my internal struggles. When I went to college, my professor asked me to write a one-page essay on a product that would change my world. Well, I loved to play games, and I didn’t like school, at least back in K-12. I thought, why not put the two together, to create educational games that excite the mind and eyes. That one assignment has become a successful business. Assisting students around the world in learning history, one of the hardest subjects to keep kids interested in, and we do it through games. 

 

A History Lessons in Educational Gaming

In the past the problem with games, in some people’s minds, was that they were just for recreation. However, if you talk to students 95% of them love playing games.  If they had a choice between games or school, the K-9th grade students would most likely choose playing games. Some would say school is “boring”, some would say, “it’s not relevant”, and others would say they are just “not interested in it.” How can we make education more enjoyable? By adding a little more gaming into their education. 

Now there are many different ideas when it comes to educational gaming. You have the Game Schoolers, who promote that most or all of their education comes from playing games. On the other side you have parents that keep their kids away from games, because they are unproductive. I’d like to share with you the great middle ground where everyone wins, and I will also show you how to pick the best games for your children.

In a study back in the 1960s, the National Training Laboratory tested retention rates when it comes to activities in the classroom, and in daily lives. They found that, for the average learner, if the student reads information from a book they will retain 10-20% of what is read. If they watch videos, they will retain 30%. If they do activities or play games using the learning outcomes of Analyze, Define, Create, and Evaluate, they will keep up to 90% of the information they are learning. Those are astonishing numbers. Let’s investigate these four outcomes.

 

Analyze is the method of examining or learning about the topic, in detail. So, besides games, you need time to learn what you will do in the game; this is an effective precursor to trying to learn from any game.

Define is the method in which you use what you have learned in a way that allows you to show you actually understood the information. This allows us, as the teachers, to learn if the student has retained the information given to them. If they don’t understand it correctly, it will do no good to allow them to move forward.

Create is a state of using what you have learned in a relevant manner, to use motor skills to produce a type of motor memory in what you are learning. So, they need to use that information right away, in a topic such as history. How can they use this information? By teaching it to others, writing a story about it, or even playing a game that uses that information to build that type of motor memory. 

 

Benefits of Educational Gaming

The greatest benefit of Educational Gaming is that the more times they play the game, the higher the likelihood is that they will remember the lessons learned. In learning history, we believe in the Law of Witnesses, meaning the more time you hear someone’s name, the more likely you are to remember it. Take history, for instance. If the player hears a name once, the information will go in one ear and out the other. There is very little retention created. However, if you play a game once, and then read about the person later, they will remember that person. The information learned about them becomes easier to retain after the second, third, or fourth time they hear it. They are creating a motor memory within their mind. Play a game 100 times, and hear that information in small bites and your brain is more willing to see the importance of that information, and will then store it where it is easily accessible. In addition, when a student can attach emotion to the information, they are more likely to retain it. Whether it’s the frustration or enjoyment of playing a game, that emotion will allow the student to retain that information easier, especially the enjoyment of playing a game they like.

Evaluation and reflecting on what you learned and or created is also essential. You must help the student reflect on what they learned or could accomplish. In traditional education, they can fill out a survey or journal entry on what they learned, while in games, you can talk about how they liked it and what they learned afterwards. In video games, they can reflect on what is called “leaderboards,” in the gaming industry. These are boards showing how you rank among others, but can also reflect some of the things they could have learned while playing the game. These are highly effective in evaluating what you learned and enticing you to try again, which continues building more motor memory.

 

How to Find Games that are Right for Your Student

Educational Gaming needs to be based on relevance, your child’s interests, and abilities. Try looking at games that meet these criteria, based on your experience with your student.

  1. Interests – Are your students interested in games? Would they be in the 95% of students that like games, any type of game? If they are, what games would they like? Are they more likely to play a physical game, or a video game? Do they like more physical challenges, 3rd person interaction with the program, or more strategic interactions, using boards or cards?

Look for games that appeal to them on a personal level. Using a game they aren’t interested in would only backfire, because they could feel resentment to use a program they have no interest in.

  1. Relevance–Just picking up any game and using it is not an effective way to succeed in education. There are games for recreation and there are those that are made for learning, and you can use both. One shouldn’t expect all games to fill in educational gaps, or help with creating motor memory in a specific topic. When evaluating a game, investigate how they will learn from the information they are gleaning from the game. Some are more effective than others.Look for games that are educational, but not too educational. Remember that when youth play games, they normally play for entertainment. Use games that give them small bites, especially for those in SPED. Learning in small chunks, through gaming, will make a world of difference for your student.
  2. Eye Catching–While your student may like games, there are those that are not the best when catching their interest and attention. Do your students like the flashy or the simple? Don’t buy a 6th grader a game that looks like it’s perfect for a kindergartener. The best way to find something they would like is to search out games that catch your eyes, as their parents or teacher. Remember that special effects these days are not very different for adults or kids. The things that catch your eye will also catch their eye. They may even need a little more – if you don’t like how a game looks, they will probably not as well. 
  3. Needs–Especially in SPED, this is sometimes the most important factor. What do your students need for learning? For example, those that are dyslexic have a hard time reading, so giving them a rules manual or a book is not a good way to keep their attention, and doesn’t give them the tools to succeed. The best way to promote learning for someone with dyslexia, and other special needs, is to focus on small amounts of information and catching their interest. When someone with dyslexia is truly interested, that is when they will act on their own, and begin doing the work on their own. Addressing the needs of your students’ is the most important, especially with Educational Gaming. There are games out there that would be harder for some students, and there are games designed to appeal to everyone.

 

In closing, using games in learning, in this day and age, is a very effective way to grab your students’ interest, help them grow their excitement for learning, and increase their retention in what they are learning. While some games look like they are educational, there are other games that disguise education in the gameplay, allowing the student to be excited about what they are doing, while actually learning the entire time.

 

What to Look forward to in the Future 

Historical Conquest is teaming up with other curriculum developers and game designers to create a video game system that will help students have a large range of games that are relevant to specific subjects,  teach students different subjects without being too educational, and allow students to enjoy what they are learning. To begin this system, we are performing our analysis using the subject of history, (our strength), to test its effectiveness. This first portion of our system can be found at www.HuntThePast.com, which allows students to learn using a plethora of methodologies that they enjoy, including reading, videos, activities, audio, and now video games. While these games are currently digital, and some parents want their kids to get off their screens, all these games will be made available in physical form, as well. So stay tuned, keep watching, and please sign up to support this effort, by using the systems that we have so far, as we create a structure that will help students with all needs and interests on their learning adventure.

 

 

 


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 by Amy Vickrey, Dawn Spence, & Peggy Ployhar 

 

It’s the end of the year 2021 and the holidays bring down time. This lack of structure brings freedom and sometimes that can mean added stress. You might use this time of the year to reflect and work on activities that will help you to grow closer as a family in the new year. The following is a list that provides activities to do New Year’s Eve to ring in the New Year. Have a blast and start off the year with fun activities that will engage the whole family.

  

New Year’s Eve Countdown Fun

 

New Year’s Day Activities

 

Activities that Usher in the New Year with Purpose

 

If you did not find something that matched your needs, look at  this blog on adaptive ways to capture the New Year with your child. May you find joy in your homeschooling journey this year. Have a happy New Year 2022!

 

 


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by the SPED Homeschool Team

 

Running out of creative ways to help your struggling student connect with learning material? Here are some great suggestions SPED Homeschool team members Dawn Spence, Amy Vickrey, and Peggy Ployhar have used in home educating their own struggling learners over the years.

 

Reading

Teach sight words.  Both my boys struggle with auditory processing, and as a result phonics is a struggle.  But, they do well with memorization, so we use sight words to teach reading, and then continue to work on phonics through spelling as well as through other subjects and activities.  This approach has allowed them to read sooner, and more quickly become independent learners.  My kids love books and reading, so this is a win-win! – Amy Vickrey

Include movement. Put words on notecards or purchase magnetic words and allow your student to create phrases, sentences, and responses by arranging and re-arranging the pre-written words. – Peggy Ployhar

 

Math

Find geometric objects.  When studying shapes and geometry concepts, have  your student(s) do a geometric treasure hunt. – Dawn Spence

Make a number line. Make a physical number line or use movement to help with moving numbers up and down a number line alongside addition and subtraction problems. – Dawn Spence.  

Fold paper to prove theorems. For helping an older student understand geometry concepts, use paper folding technique to help translate theoretical concepts into relational concepts. Here is a resource that shows you how. – Peggy Ployhar

Electronically graph equations. For students who benefit from learning math visually, use an Excel spreadsheet to graph algebraic equations. Here is a resource that walks you through how to use Excel this way. – Peggy Ployhar

 

Science

Make crafts meaningful. When studying about the layers of the earth, have them create the layers in playdoh or Rice Krispie treats. Or, when studying anything with the body – building the layers of skin, the cell, or the lungs makes it more real and easier to relate to when your student can manipulate and create replicas of what they are learning. – Dawn Spence

Embrace experiments. Experiments can be messy and time consuming, but they provide students with experiences they are less likely to forget than if they had just read about a science concept in a book or even watched a video with an experiment. – Peggy Ployhar

 

History

Act it out. When studying history, have your children act out a scene or historical event. To make it even more theatrical, have them put together a costume from materials they can find around the house. Then while you read about the event from a history book, textbook, or historical fiction book, have your children act out the parts for the person they are portraying. – Peggy Ployhar

Listen to audiobooks. For history, we have been listening to fiction and nonfiction historical books in the car.  Story of the World and various historical fiction have filled our time as we drive to appointments around town. This has done two things – increased my children’s love of history, and increased their listening skills.  It also has gotten my oldest to pick up and read these books later that previously he hadn’t shown any interest in.  Because he heard them first, he enjoyed going back and reading through them to get more details.  This method can also be helpful for students who enjoy listening to the books while following along. – Amy Vickrey  

Spark interests with videos and documentaries. There are many great shows on science, history, and innovation/manufacturing. These videos spark interest by exposing students to new topics. For instance, after watching a video about automobiles, I found my son pouring through books on automotive fundamentals to help him better understand what he learned from the videos.  There are plans to make a rocket-propelled bike or car…I’m not sure how, but I am excited that he is trying to figure out how. – Amy Vickrey

 

Writing

Cultivate storytelling. A way we helped our children develop writing skills was to take turns telling stories while on family hikes. Each family member would get a turn and the other family members contributed a person, place or thing that had to be included in the story. It was always fun to hear what my kids would come up with and since there was no handwriting involved and the storytelling made the hike go faster there was no complaining either. – Peggy Ployhar

Take advantage of technology. Since handwriting is still a challenge, we have used voice to text on Google Docs and Pages (iPad).  Both programs have worked well, and are free. Speaking in short phrases is best when using this technology. Moreover, the usage of this technology helped my son with his enunciation of certain words.  – Amy Vickrey

 

Still looking for more creative ideas for how to home educate your struggling learner? Check out these additional resources from our website.

 

 

 


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SPED Homeschool Team

We can turn every activity we do with our children into a learning experience. Thankfully, homeschooling allows families to turn active learning into homeschool extra-curricular subjects. The possibilities are endless, but below you will find 50+ ideas for homeschool extra-curricular subjects based on what we, the SPED Homeschool team, have taught in our own home schools.

 

Peggy Ployhar

Scuba diving

Sewing and Dressmaking

Aerial Silks

Taekwondo

Structural Engineering

Photography

Computer Skills (including IT skills, building a computer, keyboarding, and software implementation)

Welding

Band/Instrument Lessons

Film and Cinema studies

Podcasting

Digital Art 

Starting a Personal Business

Dance

Knitting

Speech & Debate

 

Cammie Arn

Horseback Riding and Equine Care

Gardening

Landscaping

Taekwondo

Theater: acting, set design, mural painting, costuming, stage managing, lights and sound

Fine Arts/Spoken Words: poetry, producing a children’s literature book, sermons, vocal solos, short story reading 

Piano

Handbell Choir

Speech & Debate

Computer Programming

Food Preservation and Storage

Menu planning 

Food Preparation

Money Management

Horticulture

Animal care

Music Theory

Art History 

Sewing

Knitting

Ballroom Dancing

 

Lara Lee

How to draw YouTube videos

Kid’s Engineering YouTube videos

Cooking

Gardening

Neighborhood walk, bike ride, or scooter

TinkerCrate

Cardboard models of appliances

Coloring books

Busy books (downloadable pages from TeacherPayTeachers, then laminate and add velcro to the back of the pieces)

Puzzles

Board games

Self-made experience books using photos and construction paper

Photobooks/Social stories (Such as documenting night time routine or a trip to visit family)

Daily rotating busy boxes (filled with toys and activities to do on only that day of the week)

 

Nakisha Blain

Nature journals

Feeding squirrels

Online summer camps

Art projects

Hiking

Home economics

Go-karting

Building/Construction

Volunteering

Helping parents with a family business

 

As you can see, we basically turned anything our kids or family are doing into school. That is the beauty of homeschooling.

 

 

 

 

 


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By Dawn Spence


When I taught public school, the one thing that inspired me to teach was creating units. A fellow teacher and I created a space unit for our 40 fourth graders, and the learning and excitement that our students expressed made teaching come alive.

 

When I started teaching my twin girls preschool, I knew that units are what I wanted to do. I created units on the ocean, fall, winter, and the zoo. It was the most memorable year of teaching. I still enjoy doing units with my kids with lots of interactive learning and activities.

 

Creating a unit is not hard but it does take some planning. When you write your unit you can use it as your only curriculum.

 

 

Planning Your Unit
 
Topic
First, plan out what excites you and your learner. If the learning is engaging and holds the interest of your learner, the learning will come. I found “fall” to be a unit that can be adapted to older and younger students. “Fall” also works will all types of learners. 

 

Map Subjects
Next, map out what subjects that you want to be included in your unit. You can easily involve your core subjects, but you can usually include much more. When I created my “fall” unit, I was able to include math, science, history, language arts, reading, and art. You can make the lessons simple or complex. I would draw a map out and under each subject, I would list out what I wanted to cover. 

Math using pumpkins was hands-on and everyone was ready for school in the morning. If your state includes Good Citizenship you can add that as well. Do not forget to add in field trips to allow your unit to become real life for your learner. Make sure also figure out how long you want your unit to last.

 

Develop Lessons
Third, it is time to develop your lessons. This step can be fun and overwhelming at the same time. There are so many activities that you can add to your unit and many places to get ideas. I started with Teachers Pay Teachers, File Folder Heaven, and homeschooling blogs. I would gather ideas and sometimes the activities that I saw inspired me to create my own. I have created a sample graphic organizer to help with your planning. (Click here to download the below image as a free document.)



Determine Assessments
Last, decide how you want to grade or assess their learning. You can create a lapbook, and at the end of the unit your student could present what they learned with a hands-on project or report. For more ideas on how to grade or assess you can read Amy Vickery’s article: Making The Grade: Strategies for Grading your Homeschool Student .

 

Units can be a great way to have fun while learning and can engage your student. I also found that I was able to see what my child’s interests were and what made them excited to learn. Have you created a Unit Study that you would like to share? If you have, comment below or share it on our resource page.

 

 


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By Mary Winfield


When teaching your child to form letters, it is important to use a variety of different methods and to keep their personal interests and sensory profile in mind. There are endless ways to teach letters, but here are some good ways to get you started.

Step 1: Building Letters
Before your child starts writing, it might be helpful to learn to build the letters. This helps a child to learn what the letters are and how to form shapes without the pressure of actually writing. This step is also great for kids who struggle with the fine motor skills needed to write. You can build letters in many different ways.

One way is to cut straight and curved foam pieces to be used to form letters. We have also just used building blocks and strips of paper too. But, be aware when using blocks the formed letters look a little crooked sometimes!

Another way you can build letters is to do polka dot painting. You can use the polka dot markers or you can just use a clothespin, pom pom, and paint. Sometimes “writing” the letters this way is also more fun since your child doesn’t have to have completely steady hands. Polka dot painting can also be used to fill in an outline of a letter as a way for your child to become more familiar with letter shapes. You can also use small stickers to do the same thing.

One more way to build letters is to use playdoh. Have your child roll the playdough out and then use the snake-like roll to form a letter. Wikki sticks or pipe cleaners are more great options for building letters this way.

All of these t activities will help your child learn how to form letters and develop fine motor skills more independently.

Step 2: Tracing Letters
Once your child grasps how to build letters, it is time to start practice in writing them. Most kids will still need some prompts to form letters at this stage, yet they are still ready to move beyond building them. This is where tracing comes into play. And once again, if you get creative, there are many ways to practice writing through tracing.

One tip I picked up working in schools was teaching children to write using a yellow highlighter and then having them trace over it with a pencil. The highlighter is visible enough to have them trace, but not bold enough that it gets in the way. It is also wide enough for them to follow without getting frustrated. Teachers love this method also because copies of the highlighted writing come out a light grey, which is also good for tracing.

Another fun way to trace is to write the letters on a chalkboard, and then have a child “erase” the letters with a wet Q-tip. This gives the illusion of writing while erasing since the letter will then be darker on the chalkboard than the surrounding areas. Bonus points for this activity is that it is easy to clean up!

Step 3: Writing Letters
Once a child has learned the shape of letters and has the fine motor skills, it is time to start writing! I have found the best way to keep a child interested in the task of writing is to decrease boredom by writing in as many creative ways as possible.

Sensory writing is my favorite! Writing letters in sand, dirt, pudding, shaving cream, whipped cream, or anything else you can find is awesome for grabbing attention! A Ziploc bag of paint (Pro tip: don’t forget to tape the bag shut!) will allow them to do this over and over again with a minimal mess.

Use a variety of writing tools and surfaces. Use markers, paint, chalk, pens, and pencils! Write outside on the sidewalk or on a wooden fence. Write on paper taped to the wall. Tape paper under a table so they can write laying down. Write on colored paper, dry erase boards or a blank journal that is all their own. Use dry erase markers to write on windows or mirrors. Write on fogged up windows in the car. Write everywhere!

Writing allows us to leave our mark on the world. It is how we pass down knowledge and ideas. It is how we communicate with others (especially if the social aspect of communicating is hard for us). I mean, when someone finds wet cement or a dirty car, what do they do? They have to write in it! Don’t give up teaching your child to write because in the end it has the ability to open up a whole new world of communication.

An all-inclusive guide to writing is Handwriting Without Tears that many families find helpful. The app  Letter School is also great. You can download free printables for a Hands-on Handwriting Binder that walks a child who is learning to write through building letters, tracing letters, and writing independently here. You can also check out our Handwriting board on Pinterest for more ideas.

Learn some pre-writing pointers from the first installment of this series  in this post.

 

 


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By Peggy Ployhar

February is soon approaching and even though it is typically the month retailers have us all thinking about love and sending valentines, the cold weather and our cooped-up kids don’t always make us feel very loving about our homeschooling or our parenting pursuits.

Instead of giving into those winter blues, take some time during these next few weeks to put aside your regular lessons and try to refocus on the love of learning. And, what better way to do that than with these fun Valentine-themed learning activities?

Here are my top 20 free picks from the SPED Homeschool Valentine Pinterest board.

1Lego Valentine Learning Activities: Learning activities centered around Valentine’s and Legos

2Valentine Hearts Spelling Game: Spelling words with a fun Valentine’s Day twist

3Valentine Math Facts Game: A fun game for brushing up on old skills and practicing new ones

4Valentine Scavenger Hunt : Free printable clues for making a fun Valentine’s Day scavenger hunt

5Threaded Heart Paper Plate Craft: Cute paper plate heart craft that’s great for working on fine motor skills

6 Valentine’s Day Speech Therapy Activities: 100+ speech therapy related activities for Valentine’s Day

7 Candy Hearts Unit Study: Teach everything from math, critical thinking, science, history and language arts with candy hearts

8 Brain-Building Valentines Activities: Multiple activities that work on midline crossing, fine motor skills, vestibular activities, and visual planning

9 Valentine’s Day Unit Study : Through books, videos, and art, delve into the history around St. Valentine and Valentine’s Day

10 Science Experiments for Valentine’s Day: Simplified biology, chemistry, and physics lessons with heart or Valentine’s Day themes

1125 Valentine Process Art Projects: Art projects that explore a variety of different and allow your children to express their artistic flair

12Valentine Themed Light Table Activities: 15 different activities for a light table, all focused on Valentine’s Day

13Love Your Neighbor Unit Study: Activities to help your children think about loving
intentionally this Valentine’s Day

14 Valentine’s Day Montessori Work: 9 Valentine’s Day activities that use Montessori teaching principles

15Heart Visual Discrimination Printable: A fun way to work on identifying similarities and differences

16Valentine’s Day Games and Brain Breaks: 10 activities to get your child up and moving on Valentine’s Day

17 30 Valentine’s Day Speech and Language Activities: Lots of free speech activities to use on Valentine’s Day

18Mapping the History Behind Valentine’s Day : Learn history and geography in this mini unit study about Valentine’s Day

19Valentine’s Day CVC Board Game: Fun printable board game to use with your emergent readers

20Scripture Card Valentine Art Project: 4 printable scripture-based valentine cards your children can customize with their own art

Still not enough choices? Then make sure to check out the SPED Homeschool Valentine Pinterest board containing over 200 more ideas to choose from. And, while you are there, make sure to check out the rest of the SPED Homeschool Pinterest boards.

 

 


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