February 9, 2011

My Little Strugglers: The Dreaded Pencil


During this process I was reading to the kiddos daily as I was determined that someday they would recognize those pictures--um, er--letters. I found that the books with the most appeal were the Leo Lionni books. They had vivid pictures and short pages for short attention spans. My little strugglers were wiggly and giggly. We did rounds of "that's MY seat" and poking and talking and yelling. I found myself frustrated much of the time with reading out loud to them. In my head I'd always pictured "story time" like a quiet Kindergarten class engrossed in the tale that a bubbly teacher would tell them complete with pauses and dramatic faces and tones. I wanted that lady to come to my house pronto.

On those days we would have the Kindergarten class story time "spark" it was a lot of fun. We found this in the book by Leo Lionni, "Pezzettino". A brief synopsis from Amazon.com:

"Little Pezzettino is so small he is convinced he must be a piece of somebody else. A wise man helps him discover the truth." 

It was simple, it made sense to them and it made them empathize with the character. It was time. They were going to write the small saying in the book and they were going to write their names... I hoped. They were going to use scissors and not complain... I hoped.

I gathered:
  • Scissors
  • Small sized poster board
  • Different patterned paper
  • Glue Stick
  • Pencil
  • Paper   
I wrote on two separate pieces of paper "Are you my little piece?" Then their first name.

It was time to start the art portion. They had fun cutting out the little squares to make their "Pezzettino". The writing part was much more exciting to them after their art was complete. They wrote, very carefully, the saying and then their names. We hung it on the wall so it would be a daily reminder of what they'd accomplished.

Not too bad compared to the original, if I do say so myself:

It is important to note that Xander was in the 2nd grade and Milan was in the 1rst grade when this milestone was reached. If you are dealing with strugglers, yourself, remember that homeschooling provides the freedom to take the extra time needed to "get it right". Don't rush them, you will know when they are ready. You also need to know that with the extra time added to their schooling eventually they will have what I like to call a "boomerang effect" where it seems they are getting back on target, but the process is slow and you have to stay away from comparing your children to other children.

The kids were so excited that day that we moved on to additional projects:

It was that same day the kids started using pencil grips. I used the specific type in the link because it was the best design to force their fingers into proper placement for writing. I won't lie to you--they hated it at first, but learned to get used to it. That, and I gave them no choice in the matter. If we were going to do it, we were going to do it right.

Tomorrow we'll tackle letter recognition. The light bulb DID eventually burn bright!


Anonymous said...

We used to use the Stetro grips, too! Another thing we did that really helped was using "stubby crayons," crayons I had peeled and broken in thirds and placed in their own special bin. Using these forced my boys to use a correct tripod grasp.

We also used to have them hold a dowel rod like they should a pencil and to move the dowel rod through their hand using only their fingers. That also forced a tripod grasp and strengthened their hands at the same time.

Oh, and they loved "walking a ball" up and down the wall. We'd choose a 2 inch ball, place it firmly against the wall, and use our fingers to make the ball move up and down the wall without falling. That was great for helping isolate the finger muscles.

All these things looked like FUN, but they were actually therapy. My kids loved "playing" during school!


Christine said...

I love the artwork! What a wonderful idea. :)