Are you looking for a fun way to help students strengthen auditory memory and listening skills? You can take Graph Art for Auditory Memory for a test drive with this free sample page. (Learn about the full product here.)
Important tip: Students should already have a basic understanding of rows, columns, and graph coordinates. The included Instructor Script does provide a quick refresher. However, to really focus on building auditory memory and listening skills, let’s not make this your student’s first exposure to graph concepts.
This 4-page pdf includes:
You read the coordinates out loud. Students create our friendly little giraffe here. Plus they get to color their graph art when finished.
Ready for your free sample pages?
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Ed came to work with me to strengthen his reading and learning skills. As with many students I worked with over the years, Ed was too bright to qualify for special education services but continued to fall further and further behind in class.
One benefit to working one on one with students is witnessing the steady progression of skills week over week. That didn’t happen with Ed.
Ed’s progress was inconsistent at best. One week his reading sounded fluent and strong. The next week his words were slow, choppy and oddly muffled.
Some days he actively engaged in our cognitive based training exercises. Other days his eyes drifted away aimlessly. Every once in a while his words even drifted off mid-sentence.
Based on a hunch (and my experience with other On Again Off Again Students) I started asking Ed what he ate for lunch just before our sessions. Patterns started to emerge, especially on those days he behaved as if he were mildly sedated.
Chocolate milk. Bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich. Green grapes. Doritos.
While that may not seem terribly unhealthy as far as kids’ lunches go, I made a suggestion. Food allergy testing might uncover potential blocks in Ed’s learning. Ed’s mom was more than willing to follow through. What she discovered from the allergist blew her mind.
“He’s allergic to the most obscure foods! I never knew that a person could be allergic to garlic, or black pepper, or tomatoes of all things. Paprika? C’mon!”
These ordinary, everyday foods seemed healthy enough, yet they were silently wreaking havoc on Ed’s ability to think clearly.
Once Ed’s mom dedicated herself to removing the innocuous items from his diet, we quickly started seeing steady progress in our weekly sessions. Not only did Ed’s reading skills soar up to and beyond his grade level, his academic success grew so much that he no longer needed my services.
Without the attacks on his brain chemistry holding him back, Ed was free to be the bright, confident learner he always was.
At first mom was baffled, then amazed, then incredibly grateful.
“He’s a completely different kid!”
Does your child resemble the On Again Off Again Student? Even if she doesn’t experience learning challenges, please consider becoming a proactive food detective, not just for her but for the entire family.
You may have heard that some of the most common allergens/sensitivities are sugar and dairy.
Yes, parents, it is HARD to eliminate sugar and dairy from the family diet. It is even harder to grow up feeling inadequate because your very capable brain is bogged down by invisible chemical chaos.
I’m not a doctor or nutritionist so I leave you to explore the food angle on your own. Through my work helping students overcome learning challenges I’ve seen firsthand what dedicated families can do. When they change their mindset, then change their pantries, they can completely change the trajectory of their children’s educational experience. If you can do the same for your own child, do you believe the effort is worth it?
The Profile of a Unique Learner series continues, so stay tuned. In the meantime you can continue engaging your own brain with this short series of Cognitive Quick Tips.
You may have seen art based fun pages like this before in one of your child’s many activity books. You’ll find finish the drawing or complete the picture activities intermingled with other skill-building pages. Have you ever wondered what skills they actually strengthen?
I designed Finish the Monster Drawing specifically to target the skill of visual closure.
While I’ve mentioned visual closure skills before, let’s take a closer look.
Visual closure allows us to visualize a complete object or word when parts of that object or word are missing.
Take the word “and” for instance. “And” is a sight word. We see it everywhere. If every time we come across that word we must first decode the letter “a,” then the “n,” then the “d,” then assemble it into a recognizable word, our reading speed and fluency will suffer.
“And” is just one of many sight words. Can you imagine how much effort our students with poor visual closure skills are putting into reading? No wonder they become so frustrated.
If you notice a child struggling to learn sight words, or mixing up words that have similar beginnings or endings, your observation may be a clue to that child’s underdeveloped visual closure skills.
Disguised as a fun art activity for kids, Finish the Monster Drawing is well suited for students in first grade and above. The age range for fun is, of course, unlimited here.
Anyone who wants to improve their drawing skills, or learn how to draw monsters (the friendly kind, that is) will enjoy this 10-pack of monster themed drawings. 10 pages for right handers. 10 bonus pages for lefties.
Call it a happy side effect of having fun, students also reinforce important foundation skills such as:
Note: In order to make this a true visual closure activity, students must visualize their finished monster before even picking up a pencil. Please refer to the included instructions.
Care for a test drive? Visit Finish the Monster Drawing Free Sample.
Ready for the full $4 worth of fun? Find Finish the Monster Drawing, An Art-for-Brains Activity in my TPT store today.
I had a wonderful opportunity to ask teacher and author Julia Dweck about her most recent children’s book, JUMP! Want to know her intention behind this Inspiring Children’s Book Find? First…
Jack loves to jump. When something prevents Jack from jumping in the same, familiar way he has done a thousand times before, he becomes distraught. With the help of a trusty friend, a whole new world opens up for Jack as he discovers new ways of jumping that he had never experienced before.
Most children can relate to experiencing sudden changes in their safe, predicable environments and routines, at least to some degree. In a fun-loving, easy to connect with way, JUMP! delivers the clear message that trying something new can lead to unexpected delight.
What a fun and carefree way to teach such a significant life lesson. The upbeat rhyming text seems to bounce right alongside Jack, joyfully taking us from one new thrill to the next!
Speaking of lessons, with a true heart for teaching, Mrs. Dweck adds yet another layer of learning. Kids will love the engaging thinking pages at the end of the book, extending the impact of JUMP! beyond its fabulously illustrated pages. (A big thank you to Brian Allen for sharing his illustration skills with us.)
Q: What’s the biggest takeaway you’d like to offer readers of JUMP?
A: I’m hoping that readers will be inspired by Jack’s adventure and realize that there is much more to life outside of our comfort zone. We need to raise children who are curious learners and explorers. Today’s young readers are tomorrow’s leaders and caretakers. This generation must be unafraid to venture out and make mistakes in order to develop a resilient spirit. Oftentimes, it’s not about the destination and more about the journey. What have we learned from the bumps and potholes along the road?
As a teacher and parent, I encourage my students and children to have a “Plan B” in place for that moment when “Plan A” fails. There’s a tenacity that arises when we test our mettle. Imaginations need to be exercised and applied in new and novel situations in order to acquire, retain and innovate from lessons learned. I want Jack’s story to inspire my young readers to jump into new adventures in life that will help them grow.
Ahhhh. Don’t you just love teachers?
Learn more about Julia Dweck and JUMP! at Sleepy Sheep Productions.
What child doesn’t love friendly, lovable monsters? Combine monster love with children’s love of art plus my love for helping kids build better brain power and we’ve got a fun, brain boosting art activity for kids: Finish the Monster Drawing.
This printable freebie is a single-page sample of a larger activity pack. It’s best suited for kids in early to middle elementary and those with special needs.
Finish the Monster Drawing is an easy and fun way for kids to engage their brains, strengthening visual processing skills and even more learning essentials along the way.
Once the monster drawing is complete, don’t stop there! Keep the art activity going. Kids can add their own embellishments, draw their own backgrounds, then color their finished monster masterpieces any way they wish.
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My sister, crazy ambitious woman that she is, is planning to hike the John Muir trail with her husband next year. It’s a massive 220 mile trek to the top of Mt. Whitney. Max elevation, 14,496 feet. Yikes!
Since my sister considers herself a casual hiker she’ll have to do a fair amount of strength training between now and then.
She’ll begin with building muscle strength in her legs.
Muscle strength alone won’t get her to the top, so she must also build up her endurance, starting slow and gradually increasing the length and difficulty of her hikes.
Will she stop there? Not at all. Hiking at sea level is one thing. Conditioning her body for the extreme effort of hiking in the clouds, well, that’s just smart planning.
We can look at cognitive strength training in much the same way.
Let’s imagine that you really really REALLY hope your children become strong, confident learners, not ones who end up figuratively huffing and puffing and gasping their way through their academic journeys.
You recognize that hope is not a strategy, so you set a worthy goal: help optimize their ability to learn, preparing them as much as possible for academic challenges ahead.
If you help your children develop efficient visual memory skills and strengthen their spatial awareness, can you take a pass on other important foundation skills like auditory memory?
Can you just look past their tendency to lose their place when they read? Can you ignore their habit of inattention and still expect them to learn and process new information with relative ease?
My sister knows that if she really wants to go the distance and to actually enjoy the journey while she’s on it, she must prepare her whole body. She probably has a bit of hope in there as well, but strength training in ALL areas will elevate her chances significantly.
Not only that, but she needs the proper tools with her, like ultralight hiking gear, great shoes, nutritious, packable food and water, plus the knowledge she’s gained from the experiences of those who’ve gone before her.
If your child is in the early primary grades or even just starting school, consider cognitive strength training as an important first step to going the distance.
And if your child is already starting to show signs of weakness or academic fatigue, please don’t let them struggle all the way to the end of the journey. Gather your research, grab the proper tools, and help them build a foundation that will support them all the way to the top.