How can we use magnetic letters to teach kids how words work? Magnetic letters provide opportunities for a tactile, kinesthetic approach to learning about letter and sounds within words. The very act of making and breaking words with real letters is powerful and should be used daily with struggling kids. I think the ‘magic’ of these little letters lies in the numerous possibilities for teaching kids to be flexible and successful at the same time. Flexibility occurs when we expect the child to use these letters in a variety of ways to create and build new words. Success is achieved by starting from what the child KNOWS and working from there to create new understanding. Here are a few categories for sorting magnetic letters:
*Uppercase and lowercase letters
*Letters that have half circles
*Letters versus numbers
*Letters that have sticks
*Vowels versus consonants
*Red Letters and blue letters
*Known chunks to make new words (i.e. an–and–sand–stand–stands–standing)
The challenge for teachers comes in knowing how to use magnetic letters to create a memorable and effective experience for kids who might otherwise never learn ‘the code.’
Students need to be taught the proper way to position themselves for writing. Many of them just don’t know there is a proper way! Consider the following instructions as a reminder of the proper handwriting position:
*Sit up straight and tall.
*Place both feet flat on the floor.
*Move your chair close to the desk without squishing your stomach.
*Tilt your paper slightly away from the hand you write with, and hold the corner of it with the hand you don’t write with.
*Place your writing arm up to your elbow, on the desk as your write. This will keep your hand and wrist from getting tired because they will be supported by your arm.
*Relax your shoulders, and look up once in a while to give your eyes a rest.
Ready, set, write! Learn more in Catch a Falling Writer: http://www.conniehebert.com
We have all seen and worked with kids who struggle with writing common sight words. Without a strong base of sight words in their personal bank of writing vocabulary, these kids continue to struggle and to attend to each and every action at a painfully slow speed. They simply aren’t able to focus on what they are writing because they are too busy trying to remember how to write? Writing words FAST is one way to build a bank of words that are automatic and easily retrieved by the child. This practice can be done with individual or with children in a small group setting.
For more ideas on how to help kids build a repertoire of sight words, see my book, Catch a Falling Reader (2nd edition) at http://www.conniehebert.com