Grid Art for Kids Improves Auditory Memory

Earlier I provided a free sample of Building Auditory Memory Skills with Grid Art: Geometric Animals. I hope the kids really enjoyed creating their fun geometric style fox. Most importantly, I hope you enjoyed covertly helping kids strengthen auditory memory and listening skills in the process.


In case you missed the freebie, learn more about it out here.


So why even bother with auditory memory activities? Take a look at a few clues that auditory memory deficiencies might be holding back your child’s learning.


Whether children need to improve auditory memory and listening skills or not, Grid Art: Geometric Animals offers a fun, sneaky way to strengthen this important learning skill.

Signs of Auditory Memory Difficulties

Does your child struggle with any of the following?

  • reading
  • reading comprehension
  • vocabulary
  • phonics
  • following directions
  • taking notes while listening
  • completing assignments
  • losing train of thought mid-conversation


Do you often tell your kids to find their socks and shoes and join you for breakfast, for example, only to find them 15 minutes later forgetting what you asked them to do?


Does your child consistently forget to turn in homework assignments in class, especially the assignments provided verbally?


While these signs by themselves may or may not point to challenges with auditory memory, they could be part of the learning difficulty puzzle.


Building Auditory Memory Skills with Grid Art

We might think of Building Auditory Memory Skills with Grid Art: Geometric Animals like a very sophisticated form of dot to dot. Children listen to instructions, find coordinates, remember coordinates, and remember which dots must connect to each other.


In the end they create a geometric style animal they can feel proud of. Have your children check their work against the answer key, then color their creations (or save the coloring for later).


Grid Art is versatile and well suited for grades 2 through upper elementary, though you may simplify the challenge for younger children and increase the challenge for older children.


Additional Skills Strengthened

Not only will you help children strengthen auditory memory and listening skills, you’ll help develop these important skills as well:

  • Working Memory
  • Auditory Discrimination
  • Spatial Awareness
  • Fine Motor
  • Attention


Ideally use Grid Art in one-to-one or small group settings so that you can closely monitor children’s progress. It’s a perfect tool for educational therapy, speech therapy, after school activities and homeschool. However, if you’d like to add this to a listening station in class, I’ve included suggestions how to do so.


Ready to help your child learn with ease and confidence? Click the link to find Building Auditory Memory Skills with Grid Art: Geometric Animals ($4) in my TPT store today!


Teaching Math for Mastery: The Case for Spiral Review

We don’t talk about math much around here, so if you are looking for fun, effective, easy to use resources to help kids master math, you’re going to want to check out the adorable Kiki’s Classroom.  First, learn a little about how this Teachers Pay Teachers author solved an all too common classroom problem.  Her solution, by the way, also had the happy consequence of helping her struggling students.


Flashback: January, 1996. I was a first year teacher facing the looming, state-required, standardized test (known simply as “The Test” to the veterans on my third grade team). Stories were told, eyes were rolled, hands were wrung, and mountains of math review packets were copied, stapled, and delivered with a thud to my already crowded desk. Use these, I was told. This is what we do, I was told.


What is spiral review and how can it turn the dreaded practice of test prep into fun, effective strategies for math master in elementary/primary grades?

And so, dutifully, throughout the months of January and February, my students and I worked our way through those review packets. We practiced, corrected, discussed, and reviewed. And then we reviewed some more. Lather, rinse, repeat, for the six or eight weeks that preceded the dreaded Test.


Three times each week, part of our instructional time was given over to test prep. That’s right: instructional time. By the end of February, we had lost countless hours to test prep, and I knew I had to change something.


That spring, I made a promise to myself and to my future students that we wouldn’t suffer through two months of intense review again. I knew there had to be a better way—a way that honored all that I knew about teaching, and that brought about authentic learning. I wanted long-term retention and true mastery of third grade skills and concepts.


It happened to be the year that my school district was considering adoption of a new and somewhat controversial math program, one that introduced the notion of “spiral curriculum” to many veteran teachers, who were quite comfortable teaching math the way they always had, thank you very much.   Though “spiral review” was a new term to many teachers, it was hard to argue with the logic of daily work that reinforced and supported our regular practice over the course of the year.


Not coincidentally, that summer, my daily math review was born. It’s taken on many forms and formats through the years, but the foundation has always remained the same: every day, my students and I would spend the first ten to fifteen minutes of the day going over previously taught third grade math skills and concepts. It served as my “morning work,” a way to focus kids’ attention when they entered the classroom each morning while I took care of routine tasks like attendance and collecting notes from home.


But the magic…well, the magic happened when we came together as a class to go over students’ work. I’d project a page on the pull-down screen (this was 1996, after all…I used my overhead projector all day long!) and student volunteers would come to the overhead and “be the teacher” for one of the five problems presented that morning.


Suddenly, I had gained instructional time, because in the few minutes it took us each day to go over their work, we could share our thinking, discuss our strategies, and identify concepts that needed further review. It was the perfect opportunity to model, teach, reteach, and preview concepts in a quick, daily dose. Areas that needed reteaching were identified early, and I could implement interventions for my struggling learners when those skills and concepts arose again. It was efficient, and it was effective.


Fast forward: January, 1997. The (same) math review packets arrived once again, landing expectantly on my desk. Thud. Faced with a choice but confident in my kids, I chose to stash the packets away in a cabinet, and elected not to use them at all. We carried on, and faced The Test with confidence.


We not only survived but we thrived. My kids’ performance confirmed what I knew—and all of us know—that the best, most authentic “test prep” comes from authentic teaching and authentic learning. That doesn’t happen when we cram it all in two months before the test. It happens when we prepare our kids all year long, with seamless “test prep” that isn’t test prep at all…it’s just a part of our daily teaching.


For easy, effective, and quite frankly, adorable math activities for grades 2-4, check out Kiki's Classroom. You can't help but love her resources, especially if you want to take the headache out of test prep.


Krista creates standards-based resources for the elementary classroom, with an emphasis on grades 2 through 4. You can find her thoughtfully designed resources, including her Morning Math packs, in Kiki’s Classroom on Teachers Pay Teachers.




The Big Orange Splot Paints Important Messages for Kids

The Big Orange Splot by Daniel Manus Pinkwater is a slightly silly tale with a significant message. What would you do if a big orange splot of paint landed on your home’s roof one day? Would you paint over it? Would your neighbors “encourage” you to do so?


The Story

Read this quick review of The Big Orange Splot by Daniel Pinkwater if you love discovering children's picture books with inspiring life lessons.

Mr. Plumbeam lived on a perfectly pleasant street. All of the houses were the same. They were all pleasantly, comfortably identical, that is, until something strange and unexpected happened.


For some inexplicable reason, a seagull flying by with a can of paint spilled a big orange splot right on top of Mr. Plumbeam’s house. The neighbors naturally expected Mr. Plumbeam to paint his house back the way it was, back to being the same as everyone else’s house. Quiet, unassuming Mr. Plumbeam, on the other hand, decided to do something entirely different.


What I Love About this Children’s Book

Mr. Plumbeam transformed an unfortunate incident into an opportunity for self-expression. His home eventually became an explosion of color. Every time any of the neighbors tried to talk Mr. Plumbeam out of his nonconformity, they walked away from the discussion feeling compelled to express their own individuality instead.


One by one the neighbors awakened to the value of embracing change and celebrating diversity. An entire block of once identical homes soon became a reflection of all their inhabitant’s dreams, creativity and imagination. How did this happen? Because of one big orange splot and one neighbor who chose to hold fast to his own dreams, express his creativity, not be swayed by other’s judgements, and encourage others to reveal their true selves.


Recommended for ages 4-8.


While the silly words and silly pictures in The Big Orange Splot certainly appeal to little ones, the philosophical messages are just right for any age. Use this picture book as a fun discussion starter about standing up for what you believe in, celebrating differences, believing in yourself and your dreams, and so much more.


Love learning about inspiring children’s books like this one? Find more by visiting some of my favorites.


Improve Auditory Memory with Grid Art for Kids – Free Sample

I love coming up with fun ways to improve children’s auditory memory and listening skills, especially activities that move beyond pure rote memorization of numbers and letters. Although you’ll find that I sometimes design those very basic auditory memory skill builders, too, Building Auditory Memory with Grid Art: Geometric Animals is neither basic, bland or boring.  It offers kids a much more interactive experience AND offers parents and teachers a more covert way of strengthening auditory memory, so critical for learning with ease and confidence.


Help kids improve auditory memory skills and learning abilities the sneaky fun way. Print this free sample of Building Auditory Memory Skills With Grid Art: Geometric Animals and let the kids take it for a test drive. Great for educational therapy, speech therapy, special education and homeschool, or just for the fun of it!


I’m guessing you’re the kind who appreciates those sneaky skill-builders, too.



If you and the kids enjoyed my earlier sample of Graph Art for Auditory Memory I think you’re going to love Building Auditory Memory with Grid Art: Geometric Animals. It’s similar, but with a slightly more advanced twist.



Instead of coloring squares on a graph, students get to play a more sophisticated form of dot to dot. They find coordinates, remember coordinates, and remember which ones must connect to each other. In the end, they create a geometric-style animal they can feel quite proud of.



Important tip: For both graph art and grid art activities, students should already have a basic understanding of rows, columns, and graph coordinates. The included Instructor Script offers a brief practice period. However, to really focus on building auditory memory and listening skills, your child should not have to struggle with concepts of graphing during this activity.



Your free sample of Building Auditory Memory with Grid Art is a 4-page printable pdf that includes:

  • Instructor Script
  • Blank 20 x 20 Grid
  • Coordinates for Grid Art Activity #5  You read the coordinates out loud. Students connect the coordinate points with lines that eventually create a friendly fox. Using a straight edge is optional, but recommended. Kids can color their creation when finished. The geometric style of the finished animal makes this a great activity for math or art class as well!
  • Answer Key  Hint: hide the answer key until kids check their work at the end.

I do recommend single page printing on this one.



Ready to sneak in some more auditory skill building?



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Looking for more auditory memory activities? Try these:

Graph Art for Auditory Memory

Auditory Memory At Home and in the Classroom

Auditory Memory Activities for Kids

The Star Witness Game for Kids


A Better Way to Teach Vocabulary

Continuing my quest to find hidden educational gems that are ALSO helpful to struggling students, I’m happy to introduce Teachers Pay Teachers seller Social Studies Success. While you’ll find materials in her store that are mostly geared toward middle school students, many of her fabulously fun strategies can be translated to multiple age levels and abilities.  Today I invite you to give her vocabulary strategies a try!


Too often, teachers think of vocabulary instruction as “copy the words from the back of the book and turn it in…” – at least I know I did! For 5 years, my vocabulary instruction was lost in meaningless assignments for kids – after a test, copy down definitions. I considered my job done – after all, the kids had copied down the term and definition – surely that meant they understood and mastered the vocabulary I was “teaching.”


Guest blogger Social Studies Success teaches us a better way to teach vocabulary, for both students AND teachers. Fun and effective!


It wasn’t until years later, with many frustrated kids along the way, that I learned that I was not doing vocabulary instruction justice. I needed to approach teaching vocabulary the same way I approached teaching content – with active instruction! I researched and applied my instruction down to 3 essential steps of vocabulary instruction:


1. Have students put terms in their own words. Your students will only understand the vocabulary you teach if they own it! They need to understand it by creating and crafting sentences of their own. One method you can use is the “Say What?” technique. In this activity, students craft their own meaning as they interview different groups of students what they think the word means. Then through a guided discussion, they begin to build understanding of the term.


2. The second step is for the students to create visuals of the terms. This can be done with an illustrated dictionary or with a fun “Fist List” activity.  Then through a guided discussion, they begin to build understanding of the term.


3. The final step of vocabulary instruction is to allow students to play games with the words. Students can play Pictionary, $25,000 Pyramid or act out the terms in Muscle Memory.


Social Studies Success, another educational gem.  While not specifically targeted to struggling students, find great resources that help all kinds of learners in upper elementary and middle school.


Social Studies Success is designed to engage and excite students in the Social Studies classroom. Each lesson is carefully crafted to include an Interactive Notebook component as well as strategies to support struggling readers.  You can find these lessons at Social Studies Success on TPT plus more ideas from her blog here.



Defiance vs. Learning Difficulty – Consider This

What a thrill! I’m honored to be a guest author at What I Have Learned, sharing my experience regarding children’s defiance vs. learning difficulties. What I have learned about Jessica over at What I Have Learned is that she is a teacher with a big, big heart. Because she is such a fan of differentiated instruction she learns whatever is necessary to provide ALL students the tools they need to succeed.


What I Have LearnedSo here’s the question, what should you consider when your child is acting out, not paying attention, or appears to be downright defiant? Read Defiance or Learning Difficulty? The Case for Visual Thinking and learn if your child might be inadvertently hiding something from you.


Jessica leaves comments open, so please feel free to share your thoughts!



A Gathering Place for Elementary School Blogs

Ever wish you could read all of your relevant educational blogs in one place? I’m happy to share that Inner Pieces Gallery is featured at Elementary School Blogs. The founders like to call it a “blog newspaper.” I like to call it a great place for parents and teachers to find helpful resources for their elementary age kiddos.


Discover the most recent blog posts for the day, or catch up on posts throughout the week. You’ll find some familiar blogs plus some terrific ones you haven’t heard of yet.


Don’t say I didn’t warn you, though. With so much to read and learn and see, you might just wonder, “Where did all that time go?”



Give Elementary School Blogs a try!