Tools of the Mind: Graphics Practice

I love graphics practice because I can actually see it making a difference in each student’s writing ability. It is a 15 minute period in the day where we sit at the tables with a white board and marker. Imagine how difficult this was the first few weeks or when we receive new students – could be a new take on If You Give a Mouse a Cookie – If You Give a Kid a Dry Erase Marker… We then explain what we will be writing.

There is always a story to go along with the drawing and thus far we have covered dots that don’t touch, grass, pebbles/footprints, sticks floating on the water, puddles and rain, bowls, lollipops/balloons, bubbles falling on the ground, bagels/donuts, fish bones, half eaten cookies, and bumps. Soon we will move on to spiral, candy canes, grass blowing in the wind, zigzag, mountains, waves, snakes in the grass, x marks the spot, fishing in the water, and apples on the ground – which will hold us over until training #4.

Do I sound crazy yet? Here are a few student samples…

donuts or bagels

sticks floating on the water

bubbles above the ground

bowls

After providing the story and showing the example, students receive their marker and are instructed to put the lid on the back of it and hold it above their board. Once they have been given their markers, everyone has to see who else has the same color – because they are kids. The room erupts into a chorus of “Look! We have green! We have the same! Look!!! Look!!” When the music begins, they may start drawing whatever we are making and are encouraged to use private speech (around, close for donuts/circles, down, across, across, across for fish bones). When the music stops, they freeze – picking up their marker.

This used to typically be a fit throwing moment when at least one student decides they don’t want to stop, or they don’t want to draw what we are drawing that day. When we are finished, we provide square pieces of felt which they erase their drawings with. Then, everyone fights to put up the whiteboards kindly disagrees over helper’s jobs. We go back to the carpet for small group activities.

Graphics practice really is fantastic because of the fine motor and self-regulation skills developed in such a short time span. During this activity, they are practicing the formation of graphical marks and shapes which they will need for writing. Our students are all at varying levels in every subject, with some writing letters and others who are still struggling with the fine motor skill of holding a marker correctly. Their tiny hands often lack the strength and can become incredibly frustrated with the task of holding it.

With Graphics Practice, our students who have those skills are improving their handwriting, while we work with other kids to master the goals we have set for them. Each morning, our students write their names – some tracing, some first names, some first and last names – and the improvement has been phenomenal due to this activity!!

candy canes

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