Intervention Strategies for Struggling Students – Take a Test Drive

As you probably know, learning-powered printable activities for kids show up fairly often around here at Inner Pieces Gallery. Today I offer you a bonus freebie, only this time you’ll find it in my store over at Teachers Pay Teachers.



Are you ever at a loss when helping your struggling students? Wonder which intervention strategies work for which challenges? Try the Intervention Sampler, free.  Build visual tracking, visual memory, visual closure, visual figure ground, visual discrimination, and spatial awareness.  Learn when and why to target each skill.Of course, you don’t have to be a teacher to join the TPT membership site (if you haven’t already). You just need a name and a valid email address. A desire to help children learn as efficiently as possible, well, that’s certainly something I admire about you but it’s not actually required.



Here’s why I think signing up is worth your (much appreciated) effort.



As a parent or educator, are you ever at a loss when it comes to helping your struggling learners? You’ll now find in my store a free sampler of six different learning ability boosters. While each printable activity targets one specific learning skill, all six have the side benefit of strengthening multiple skills at the same time.



If you’re also a subscriber here at Inner Pieces Gallery you’ve seen a few of these samples before. However, this sampler also includes a brief description of each targeted skill, what it is, signs of struggle to watch out for, and various tools to help boost each foundation skill.



When you learn as much as you can about the reasons why some students have gaps in their learning, you are better equipped to help them overcome their challenges and potentially avoid years of unnecessary struggle. Here’s a good place to start:



Activities from the Intervention Sampler You Can Take for a Free Test Drive


  Grid Maze

Targeted learning skill: Visual Tracking


  Memory Matching Game – Digraphs

Targeted learning skill: Visual Memory


  Finish the Monster Drawing

Targeted learning skill: Visual Closure


  Dot Grid Pattern Play

Targeted learning skill: Visual Figure Ground


  Word Play

Targeted learning skill: Visual Discrimination


  Visual Spatial Puzzle Play

Targeted learning skill: Spatial Awareness



While the information in this free sampler may not magically transform you into an educational therapist or expert learning specialist, it might just offer some clues to the challenge of helping your child learn with ease and confidence.



If you know someone else who may benefit from this information, thank you in advance for sharing the Intervention Sampler link.


Lost and Found Will Find a Place in Your Heart

Children's picture book Lost and Found by Oliver Jeffers.  A charming tale of friendship between a boy and a penguin.

Lost and Found by Oliver Jeffers is a charming tale of unexpected friendship. What we think is lost in the beginning turns out to be something entirely different in the end.


The Story

A kind little boy decides to help a penguin who is lost. At least, that’s what the boy believes. Of course, penguins don’t say much, so the boy assumes this lost penguin needs help finding its way home.


Adventure ensues. A friendship is born. When the two finally reach their destination and say goodbye, the boy realizes an important truth. The penguin wasn’t lost. It was simply in need of a friend. As the title suggests, the story ends with a heartwarming reunion. A true friendship is found.


What I Love About This Children’s Book

Lost and Found touches on kindness, courage, friendship, loneliness and empathy all in a sweet engaging tale about a boy and a penguin. And with an artist like Oliver Jeffers, who also authored and illustrated the beloved bestseller The Day the Crayons Quit, we can expect nothing less than a visual treat on every page.


Recommended for ages 3 and up.


If you like Lost and Found, you might also like this growing list of Inspiring Children’s Book Finds for young and old alike.


Crack the Secret Word List Code for Kids

Ready for a little word play? Today’s subscriber freebie is a sample of a larger product called Word Play, An Art-for-Brains Activity. Kids love crack the code activities, and this one packs a powerful skill-building punch as it strengthens visual discrimination skills and so much more.


Crack the Secret Word List Code. Kids love crack the code activities, and this free printable sample packs a visual discrimination skill-building punch.

How it Works

  • This Word Play activity includes four grids.
  • Each 4 x 4 grid contains patterned letters.
  • Some of the patterns match, some do not.
  • Students cross out any letters in the grid with matching patterns.
  • The letters that remain spell a word.
  • Students write the word below each grid.
  • Finally, what do the 4 words have in common?


Spoiler alert: The answer to this sample word list code is that all the words are positive action words. (The answer “verbs” works just as well.)


Ready to play? Subscribers, sign in. Not a subscriber yet? Sign up in the box you see in the right sidebar. After confirming your subscription you’ll receive a private password to access an ever growing list of fun printable activities for kids, including this one.


Think your kids will love Crack the Secret Word List Code? Read more about Word Play and all the reasons why you’ll love it, too!


Visual Spatial Puzzle Play, An Art-for-Brains Activity

Visual spatial difficulties in children may not be as easy to detect as auditory processing challenges or other visual processing weaknesses. Understanding visual spatial relationships is so critical to math and reading that the topic deserves our attention and understanding.


Help students strengthen visual spatial perception, critical for math and reading, the fun way.  Visual Spatial Puzzle Play, An Art-for-Brains Activity is appropriate for classrooms, homeschool and therapeutic intervention for kids in early elementary and beyond.


Signs of Visual Spatial Difficulties

Does you struggling reader show signs of difficulty in any of the following areas?

  • Place value or aligning numbers appropriately.
  • Interpreting graphs, charts, diagrams or maps.
  • Reversing numbers, letters or words.
  • Visual tracking, as in skipping or repeating lines while reading.
  • Locating items or gathering materials at the end of the day.
  • Spelling.
  • Sequencing.
  • Tracing and cutting.
  • Inconsistent spacing in written work.


This is not an all-inclusive list. For example, some students who struggle with visual spatial awareness have trouble with personal space, may bump into things or stumble on curbs or steps. They may easily become physically lost, or often lose their place in books or on tests. They may have trouble seeing the big picture, focusing too much on the details.



Visual spatial awareness challenges are also not the only reason students may have trouble with spelling, or tracking, or sequencing.



That said, if you know of suspect that a child has weak visual spatial skills, you can help strengthen these skills in a number of ways. I offer just a few suggestions below.




  • Consider helping your child learn to subvocalize. If a task requires multiple steps, students can quietly or internally say the steps until the task is complete.
  • Checklists may help highly disorganized students gather their materials at the beginning or end of the day.
  • For students who skip lines, easily lose their place while reading, and/or habitually reverse numbers, letters and words, take a look at How to Help Children Strengthen Visual Tracking Skills, and Why for added support.
  • For students who struggle with sequencing such as remembering phone numbers, spelling words in the proper order, or even remembering the order of the alphabet, visual sequential memory activities may help.
  • Finally, provide struggling students with puzzles, puzzles, and more puzzles!  Visual Spatial Puzzle Play can help you do just that.



Visual Spatial Puzzle Play

This printable puzzle pack includes ten puzzles in both color and black and white. You or your students cut out sixteen puzzle tiles to use when solving each puzzle. Each tile is 1.5” which you may attach to 1.5” building blocks if you so choose. Otherwise, use the tiles as is and help strengthen fine motor skills in the process.



Three levels of play for various skill levels make this activity perfect for multi-level homeschools, classrooms and therapeutic environments. The included suggestions for increasing and decreasing the challenge expand not only the visual spatial skill development but the art aspect of this “Art-for-Brains Activity” as well. One alternative use for these puzzles is a simple stand-alone art activity.



Want to learn more? Visit Visual Spatial Puzzle Play in my TPT store now.


Profile of a Unique Learner: The Daydreamer

Here we are at the sixth and final blog post in the series Profile of a Unique Learner. Are you ready to meet The Daydreamer?


The Challenge

Amanda experiences a little something referred to as attention focus disruption. Attention focus disruption can look a lot like, and is often confused with, Attention Deficit Disorder, or defiance, or even laziness. It is none of those things.


Amanda often lives in her own little world. Her mom affectionately calls her a daydreamer. Her concerned dad (not so affectionately) calls her a daydreamer. Her teachers report that Amanda’s daydreaming interferes with classwork.


Should you encourage your child’s daydreaming or should you worry?  Find out in Profile of a Unique Learner: The Daydreamer.


Amanda rarely appears to listen to instructions. Either her eyes wander, or she doodles on anything and everything in front of her. Her paper. Her desk. Her hands. This does not exactly endear her toward the people requesting her attention.


Amanda’s attention always moves to the most interesting thing in the room. If her teacher doesn’t happen to be it, Amanda disengages.


While Amanda is quite social and has plenty of friends, she isn’t particularly chatty. She also isn’t a big fan of reading. You can attribute these traits to low verbal processing skills, but you certainly can’t dismiss her as unintelligent. On the contrary, Amanda is incredibly bright.


The Good News About The Daydreamer

When we encounter a student whose mind is off in space, our first instinct is to respond with “Pay attention!”


Actually, if blank, unresponsive stares are involved, I hope one of your first instincts is to rule out a possible seizure disorder or form of Tourette’s syndrome. But that’s a whole different story.


If you find yourself with a daydreamer like Amanda who may often appear under-stimulated or bored, congratulations! You are likely in the presence of a gifted child.


Just like The Storyteller and The Flip Flopper, Amanda is a visual thinker. She thinks in pictures, not words. This not only makes her highly curious, it makes her think faster than her verbal thinking peers.


Unfortunately for Amanda, this means she reaches boredom quickly. As she waits for everyone else to catch up, she searches for ways to keep her mind challenged and engaged.


Yes, she looks like she’s daydreaming. But while she’s daydreaming, she is engaging (and strengthening) her gifted imagination. Please, whenever possible, do not discourage her! This type of daydreaming is actually a good thing.


Many students like Amanda have the enviable talent of keeping multiple channels of thinking open all at once. In other words, don’t get in a huff when you suspect she’s not paying attention. She’s probably daydreaming AND listening to you at the same time.


Reading Help for The Daydreamer

For students who fit The Daydreamer profile, these are just a few suggestions.


Attention Focus Training

While we certainly want to nurture the gifts of any budding creative genius, we don’t want our bright young thinkers to be distracted by every shiny object.


A good place to start attention focus training is to have students keep eyes on a target for a goal of 3 minutes, all while walking toward and away from the target. Once they reach their 3 minute goal (which may take weeks or months to achieve, by the way) we increase the level of difficulty and set a new 3 minute goal.


Visualization Training

This may seem counterintuitive for someone who already thinks in pictures. However, the key in this case is to use a student’s visual strengths to bolster weak verbal processing.


Relating heard information to visual imagery builds understanding and recall. At the basic level simply say any word (avoid non-visual words) and ask your student to describe it to you in detail. Practice with single words, then build up to phrases, then sentences.


When ready, apply these same principles to written words using vocabulary cards and simple reading material. Progress to more advanced passages until visualizing written material becomes second nature.


Visual Tracking

Some struggling readers like The Daydreamer (and The Storyteller) find themselves reading random words from different lines on the page. Suddenly they read a word from 2 lines above or 3 lines below the line they are reading. Building Visual Tracking Skills THE BOOK targets this issue plus helps students build visual discrimination skills at the same time.


Care to read the entire Profile of a Unique Learner series? Here you go:

Profile of a Unique Learner: The On Again Off Again Student

Profile of a Unique Learner: The Storyteller

Profile of a Unique Learner: The Flip Flopper

Profile of a Unique Learner: The Excessive Studier

Profile of a Unique Learner: The Troublemaker



Quick Quote: Joseph Campbell on Fear and Courage

Illustrated quick quote: Joseph Campbell on fear and courage.


Printable Hearts Grid Maze with Secret Message

What child doesn’t love to uncover secret messages? Hidden within this month’s free printable for kids is a message perfect for Valentine’s Day.


Kids crack the code to reveal a secret Valentine’s Day message as they make their way through this printable grid maze. Shhh! You’re secretly helping them build visual discrimination skills, visual figure ground skills and even more learning skills in the process.  Don’t worry. Your secret is safe with me.


By the way, it’s perfect for anyone who happens to love love, too, any time of year.


How to Reveal the Secret Valentine’s Day Message

Follow the upside down hearts from start to finish. Each heart has a letter. Write each letter, in sequential order, to reveal a secret Valentine’s theme message. (You’ll find the answer at the bottom of the page.)


For access to this Valentine’s Day printable, Hearts Grid Maze with Secret Message, either sign in or sign-up in the box to the right. You’ll find an ever growing list of free printables for kids waiting for you.


And wouldn’t ya know it. These Valentine’s Day printables are waiting for you, too:

Valentine’s Day Bookmarks for Kids

Printable Mosaic Valentine as Envelope

Seek and Find and Color Me Hearts