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From doctor’s appointments for school physicals, waiting in line at amusement parks or riding in the car on road trips, waiting is everywhere this summer. Why not use this time to stop summer brain drain?
Visual learners need ways to make connections between their right-brain, visual thinking and all those facts and figures needed for success in the classroom. Making a game out of reciting the alphabet or the geography of our country is a great way to make those facts stick in their minds.
I’ve found some great ideas for you. Remember, the waiting games can also be played in the car on road trips. I’ve added a couple art and movement activities to ramp up the fun factor and keep it visual.
- Back and Forth Drawing– All you need is a piece of paper and a pencil.
- Alphabet Train– Take turns thinking of words that begin with each letter of the alphabet starting with “A.”
- Rhyming– The first player says a word, and the others take turns rhyming until there are no more words. Simple, fun, and a great game to help with reading!
- Categories-Choose a letter and a category, and take turns naming something in the category that starts with that letter. (Example: T and Food = tomato, tortilla, turkey, etc.) When someone can’t name something, they’re out; keep going until no one can think of anything. Then start again with a new letter and category!
- Thumb Wrestling– An oldie but goodie that you can play anywhere. It’s so quick and easy!
- Simon Says– A great way to get their bodies involved!
Road Trip Games
- Fun with maps– Give your children each a map and let them mark it up to help them keep track of where you are in your journey. Let them color, draw on it, highlight your route or use stickers to help them create their own personalized mementos of your road trip. As you pass different towns and landmarks, they can note them on their maps. What a great way to practice geography and map reading. For some math practice, have your child figure out how far it is between each destination.
- Watch for plates– At the beginning of your journey have everyone make a guess as to how many different license plates they will see on the trip. Use my free worksheet to color each state as you find them.
- Road trip bingo– Using a picture bingo card, you can combine this classic game with a scavenger hunt and even the little ones will get to participate.
- Billboard ABCs– A great way to practice letter recognition is to find the letters on billboards that you pass on the way. Only one letter per billboard though to make the game last. Variation: Use our sight words lists to find words instead of letters.
These activities should keep them busy for hours. But just to change it up a bit, don’t forget to try the classics like, I Spy and 20 Questions. Keep it light and fun!
For some more great ideas for keeping the Summer Brain Drain at bay, check out my other STOP Summer Brain Drain posts.
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It’s common over the summer for the kids to lose some of those hard-earned handwriting skills that they practiced all year at school. With all the playing and creating, they may not get a lot of opportunities to physically write things down to stay in practice. We’ve made something great just for you. Well – for you and your young writer.
A few months ago I wrote a post about what I saw when looking at a writing journal from a first grade classroom. The handwriting in it was what you’d expect from young writers – some perfect, some sloppy and disjointed and some complete disasters.
So I thought, “How can we help children improve their handwriting without making it a chore?”
Since handwriting is so important – I’ve developed and tested some special activities and writing sheets so you can help your child improve their writing.
7 Days to Better Handwriting is a great low pressure way for you to help your child improve handwriting over the summer.
It’s fun. It’s easy. And everything’s included – except the #2 pencil. If you have a young writer, or even an older one that needs to tidy things up a bit – this is the challenge for you.
Each day’s activity only takes 5 to 10 minutes. It’s fun and easy to do and after just 7 days, you’ll see some noticeable improvement in your child’s handwriting.
There’s only one catch –
You have to sign up to receive the special activities and writing sheets in your email.
So don’t delay, sign up for – 7 Days to Better Handwriting and watch your child’s handwriting improve before your eyes!
For some more great ideas for keeping the Summer Brain Drain at bay, check out my other STOP Summer Brain Drain posts.
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Recently there has a been a great push toward STEM, Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. These fields of study are crucial in today’s business world. But, we really need to add an “A” for art, to make it complete and really reap the benefits of the innovation and creativity that being involved in the arts can produce. Without the arts to open up the right brain thinking needed to innovate, STEM can be really dry and lack creativity. It’s one thing to be proficient at these heavily left-brain, analytical studies but it requires a little creativity to dream up the next iPhone or Facebook. STEM is required to make those crazy right-brain ideas successful and feasible but the idea needs to happen and that requires strong right-brain skills.
I have been combing the internet to find lots of fun and engaging ways for you to incorporate STEAM into your summer fun this year. Here are a couple of my favorites.
- Make a STEAM bored jar. These 48 activities take only about 5 minutes each and will give you something to do when the kids say, “I’m bored!”
- Add an ‘A’ to STEM with these 8 great ideas from a teacher that require use of the WHOLE brain (the logical/analytical left brain and the emotional/creative right brain)
- Combine art and science to produce colorful eruptions and make natural watercolors with flowers.
- Try these edible kitchen science experiments. There is something so exciting about being able to create something crazy that you can eat.
- Use STEM apps to increase the visual creative aspect of these subjects.
- Check out my STEAM board on Pinterest to get lots more great ideas for incorporating art into STEM.
There is so much potential for science, technology, engineering and math to be fun and visual. Just don’t forget to add the art to make it complete.
For some more great ideas for keeping the Summer Brain Drain at bay, check out my other STOP Summer Brain Drain posts.
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In school, visual learners experience more sitting still, left brain, language oriented learning and much less hands on learning. This can be challenging because they still need things to be visual and hands on. Summer is a great time to use alternative activities to keep it fun and light while maintaining the learning. We want to help you help your child operate successfully in the classroom and have designed these activities (free downloads) with your visual learner in mind. Each activity is written to help make learning more visual.
We’ve created a great way to study sight words that emphasizes colors and visual stimulation.This activity is great for beginning readers, and can be adapted for learning vocabulary words in higher grades. Learning to read includes memorizing sight words -basic words children will see again and again when they read. Kids learn best when they see and interact with what they are learning. Making this a fun, visual activity will engage your beginning reader and increase their reading success.
All through elementary school kids will be assigned lists of vocabulary words to memorize. To ensure success, match the style of practice to your child’s learning style. Visual kids learn best by making the words into pictures they can remember. So get out the notecards, colored markers and make the vocabulary words visual. You can even use color to help ‘see’ the syllables. Or draw pictures to coordinate with the words.
Being able to organize things is essential for future success in learning. Why not use something they love already to teach organization? Children with strong spatial skills are drawn to building blocks and Legos. Lego sets can be very simple for the youngest builder, or extremely complex. Young children should start building with larger blocks. As their fine motor skills increase, they can work with smaller and smaller pieces. It’s important to help children learn to organize the Lego pieces visually and learn to follow directions for assembly. Learning to organize with things they enjoy will set the stage for learning in other areas.
Our writing an essay activity is designed to help young elementary students get their thoughts on paper, before they start writing. Children have a lot of visual memories that need to be translated to words. Talking things through before writing helps get the creative juices flowing and brings specific memories to the surface. As the thoughts start flowing, have your child write down simple words (nouns and verbs) that will help when it comes time to do the actual writing. Using sticky notes makes it easier to rearrange their thoughts to form the most complete organized piece of writing. This doesn’t need to be dry research based writing it is great for story writing as well.
The key to these activities is to make learning visual. Adapt them as you wish to make them work for fun summer learning. The key is to keep it light and engaging.
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Most visual kids struggle with writing. They have a lot of ideas happening all the time- but the ideas are pictures inside their head. Writing requires them to translate their images into words and get them on paper. Visual thinkers are less experienced and may not have words for what they can see. They’re less comfortable with words, and words are much slower than images for them.
A great way to help them translate those images into words is to have them start by drawing a picture. Once they get that picture out of their head and onto paper, it becomes a little easier to find a few sentences to write about it. Think of their drawing as another story starter. Fortunately for you and the kids, we have just the tool to help with this process. Our story paper has a large blank space at the top for a drawing and a couple lines underneath for writing sentences about it. So get it today and help the kids get comfortable writing.
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Creative writing shares many of the same benefits for children as visual arts. It is a wonderful way for your child to use their creative mind and use their imagination. But, it can be difficult for visual kids to know where to start.
Most visual kids struggle with writing. They have a lot of ideas happening all the time- but they’re pictures in their head. Writing requires them to translate their rich multi-dimensional images into words and get them on paper. It’s an overwhelming challenge that can feel impossible. Visual thinkers may not have words for what they can see. They’re less experienced and less comfortable with words, and words are much slower than images.
If all that isn’t hard enough, our non-linear, visual thinkers need to organize, edit and sequence their thoughts to tell a story or explain a position. But, visual thinkers often lack the sequencing skills needed to separate and to organize their thoughts. They can also struggle to create context, use comparisons and provide supporting detail because they’re used to the immediacy and holistic nature of visual thinking. All the more reason to keep them writing this summer, they need the practice.
The key to summer writing is to keep it fun and light. Just a few sentences a day about a topic that interests your children is all it takes. We have created a printable list of some story starting ideas to get those creative juices flowing. Notice we’ve done our writing prompts a little bit different than most. Instead of an open-ended idea or topic that can overwhelm kids that don’t like to write, we’ve given the start of a first sentence. This helps them get past the defeating “where do I start” feeling and into the flow of their story.
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Apps are a great way to get your visual learners engaged in subjects that can be a little challenging at school. Math and Science is all about concepts and theories that can be really wordy and difficult for right- brain thinkers to grasp. These visual manifestations of the same concepts are much easier to translate for their brains. It only takes a few minutes a day to keep those parts of their brains working to avoid learning loss over the summer.
Many of these apps are designed to help them think creatively and innovate, skills in which they excel. I promised you a list of my favorite math and science apps earlier in the week. So, here they are. I tried to find something for everyone from pre-k through 6th grade.
Motion Math (preK+) turns screen time into learning time with these delightful, effective math games. There are 12 different games from this company from number sense games for children ages 3-6 to games about economics, mental math and proportions for kids ages 8+. With so many different options, you will definitely find something that your kids will love.
Threes! (6+) is a math-based puzzle game that borrows elements from both Sudoku and Bejeweled. It encourages not only math skills but also strategic planning to maximize your playtime before you run out of possible moves. It’s an easy-to-learn, tough-to-master game that kids and parents both will love, but parents should be aware that the app includes links to social media and the app store.
Montessori Math: Multiplication (7+) is a learning tool that helps kids gain a conceptual understanding of multiplication by using various strategies. Kids get four strategies to solve multiplication problems, including traditional vertical formats and less traditional bead-grouping methods. A cute skateboarding character joins kids as they work through the problems, and a set of games is available so kids can apply what they’ve learned and earn points to build silly monsters. A parents’ section gives a detailed explanation of the app’s instructional approach, and a settings icon allows users to customize the learning experience. For example, users can choose from 15 languages, disable links to the Internet, disable the timer in the games, and set place-value limits on the numbers kids have to multiply.
DragonBox Elements (7+) is an exciting geometry game with more than 100 challenging puzzles. Kids learn the fundamental, as well as the more advanced, concepts related to shapes and geometric proofs. Kids can choose from two levels of difficulty, and the puzzles in both levels get increasingly harder to complete. By tapping, drawing, and dragging, kids solve puzzles and gather creatures to form an army and fight the enemy monster, Osgard. The puzzles are highly engaging, and the graphics are bright and colorful. This is a true example of game-based learning. It’s important to note that many of the puzzles can be quite difficult, and hints are not available. Parents may need to provide guidance to help kids avoid frustration.
Slice Fractions (8+) is an app designed to help kids learn about fractions. The game takes a unique approach that helps kids visualize parts of a whole, or equal shares, promoting a conceptual understanding of fractions. Kids will have fun while learning as they help a wooly mammoth cross the landscape. Kids have to slice and drop lava and ice in a way that either creates equal shares or produces the fractions shown on the screen. For example, if the fraction 1/4 is displayed, kids have to slice a piece of ice so one out of four equal parts drops to the ground and clears the path for the mammoth. As they progress through the game, kids earn fun hats for the mammoth and unlock new levels.
Project Noah (8+) is an app adaptation of an innovative website that allows you to submit nature photos to help with global research missions. You can submit photos of wildlife with labels or a request for others to suggest what species they are. Photos can be submitted independently, or you can join missions to submit specific requested photos and help to document species. Some of these missions support scientific research, such as the Lost Ladybug Project.
Life Science through Photography (6+)features dozens of annotated images that introduce key life science concepts. The thumbnail images on the homepage are presented in a way that makes it really easy to tap into specific subjects. Kids click on images of plants and animals, displaying many interesting facts. The information is useful and not overwhelming. There is a review quiz to check comprehension and additional quiz questions may be purchased in the app.
World of Goo (7+) lets children drag and drop living, squirming, talking globs of goo to build structures, bridges, cannonballs, zeppelins, and giant tongues! The millions of innocent goo balls that live in the beautiful World of Goo are curious to explore, but they don’t know that they are in a game, or that they are extremely delicious. This addicting and awe-inspiring Puzzle game will set you on an adventure that you’ll never forget!
Hopscotch (9+) is easy to use, but it’s also powerful. No typing. No syntax errors. Just drag and drop blocks. Hopscotch is an intuitive, friendly programming interface designed for everyone. Hopscotch can be used to learn fundamental programming concepts — sequencing, abstraction, values and conditionals.
The NASA app (5+) showcases a huge collection of the latest NASA content, including images, videos on-demand, NASA Television, mission information, news & feature stories, latest tweets, ISS sighting opportunities, satellite tracking, Third Rock Radio and much more.
Sky Map (5+) allows you to point your device at the sky and the Sky Map will tell you exactly what you are looking at. It’s great for those summer nights when you can stay up late and camp out under the stars.
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Tablets and phones can be utilized as valuable teaching tools for your children, and their mobility means they can go anywhere a child does. Apps are a great way to encourage your children to be tech savvy as well. And of course, the visual aspect is great for your visual learner. Amidst some of the silly, useless apps out, there are some that can make the difference in your child’s reading and vocabulary development. There are lots of apps out there that teach the basics like, letter recognition, phonics and sentence sequencing. Since, there are so many different options it can be hard to figure out which ones are the best. With the help of CommonsenseMedia.org and some other resources, we’ve curated a list for you.
Here are 7 of my favorite literacy apps.
Starfall (preK- 2) is an app version of a free public service that teaches children to read with phonics. Their systematic approach, in conjunction with phonemic awareness practice, is perfect for preschool, kindergarten, first grade, second grade, special education, homeschool, and English language development (ELD, ELL, ESL). Starfall is an educational alternative to other entertainment choices for children.
Monkey Word School Adventure (preK-2) is an early-reading app for preschoolers and young elementary-school-age kids. It’s the next step up from THUP’s Monkey Preschool Lunchbox, which focuses on colors and sorting. Monkey Word School Adventure is for kids who are ready to start recognizing letters and words. It is well-designed with young learners in mind, challenging kids age 4 to 7 by using technology that quickly adjusts the words to the appropriate level.
Sight Word Adventure (K-3) is a fun app that provides vital practice on high-frequency words that all young readers need to memorize. These very common words often do not follow phonics patterns, so memorizing them builds a lot of fluency.
Speech with Milo: Sequencing (K-2) is a sequencing and storytelling game for young children. Slide the three picture cards into correct order (first, next, and last), then watch the story you’ve sequenced come to life in a brief animated cartoon. The 36 common activities found here, such as hitting a baseball or eating a sandwich, were chosen by a speech-language pathologist to help kids learn to organize time, sentence, and storytelling concepts with familiar themes.
BOB Books Reading Magic (K-2) is an educational experience that will teach your young children early phonics. This app teaches the sounds that letters make and how to combine them to make short words. Drag the letters for the given word to the proper place below the picture, while the app sounds out the letters and reads the word aloud. Children’s efforts will be rewarded when the black and white screen transforms to color and the drawings become animated.
Montessori Crosswords (preK-4) helps kids develop literacy skills by dragging and dropping letters into a crossword grid to form words that correspond to the given pictures. Very young kids can practice linking phonetic sounds to letters (one of the fundamentals of Montessori), while older kids can expand their vocabularies in the higher of three difficulty levels. The menu contains a link to the publisher’s site with tips for parents. Also try Montessori Words & Phonics for Android devices
Mad Libs (ages 10-99) is just how you remember the classic fill-in-the-noun/verb/adverb game, but with a twist! Fill-in-the-blank sections are now interactive, and hints are offered to educate and entertain. Or, you can try Pocket Mad Libs for Android devices. Both will help your child learnt he parts of speech while creating silly stories that are sure to have them rolling on the floor giggling.
If your child spends just 20-30 minutes per day on these educational apps, you will be amazed at the difference in their reading and vocabulary understanding. Check back later this week for a list of some of my favorite STEM apps to keep your child’s math and science skills limber.
Come back later in the week for a list of math and science apps to help engage both the analytical and the visual children in your life.
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Drawing is a great way to get creative juices flowing for your kiddos this summer. Not only is it good for boosting creativity, but it is a great way for them to document what happens throughout the summer. Not to mention the hidden benefit of keeping their fine motor skills limber so their handwriting doesn’t slip into illegibility while their enjoying their vacation. Have you considered enrolling your child in a summer drawing class? For more benefits that drawing gives your child read, Drawing is Thinking. We have a couple of different options to get you and the kids started drawing this summer.
And you can use our drawing videos to get them comfortable with drawing and learn to break down the things around them into smaller steps.