This week I found an absolute treasure I didn’t know existed. It is so revolutionary – so remarkable – has such profound possibilities – I can hardly stand it. It is so perfect for visual learners and open up whole new realms of possibility for them. I was at the library cruising the shelves for new books to keep our grandson reading this summer and grew overwhelmed by the volume of titles. So I found the librarian and asked for help finding the right “early readers”. Along with early readers I found a few books my daughter wanted to read with him and I really wanted to find a few audio books so he could do his own reading – by listening. Listening to books can make reading fun, especially for kids that may struggle with language or have trouble sitting still. They allow kids to ‘read’ books beyond their current level, which helps them want to keep reading. Audio books also let kids kick back, enjoy the story and let their imaginations run free.
A few weeks ago my sister Diane called to talk about her granddaughter Lanie. It seems her first grade teacher had some concerns about her reading and wanted to meet with Lanie’s mom and dad. They talked as a family about what the stumbling block might be and remembered our conversations about visual learners. Lanie is a visual learner and she loves to draw. She loves to draw anywhere, anytime, all the time. She takes weekly Young Rembrandts classes at her elementary school. Lanie is a visual learner – but not because she loves art. She’s a visual learner because that is how her brain is wired.
- Reading Rainbow: Offers a library of books to users, themed according to a child’s interests (action adventures, magical tales, etc.). Kids can choose to have a book read aloud to them or to read the book themselves. To access more than one book, however, you’ll have to subscribe to the app — a $10 recurring monthly fee or $30 for six months.
- Starfall Learn to Read: an app version of the stellar learn-to-read website, Starfall. The app has the same content as the “Learn to Read” section of the site. There are 15 mini-books, each focusing on a specific vowel, along with videos and activities to enhance literacy learning. As with other Starfall apps, the thorough and careful design keeps kids focused on learning.
- Martha Speaks Dog Party: A US Dept. of Education-funded study found target vocabulary improved up to 31 percent for children ages 3-7 who played this Parents’ Choice Recommended app over a two-week period. Includes FOUR fun-filled games starring Martha, the talking dog from the popular PBS KIDS TV series MARTHA SPEAKS(TM).
Last night our grandson Brayden had some subtraction homework to do. He had already finished his writing and sight words and his enthusiasm was beginning to fade. To reinvigorate homework time and make the math fun, his mom brought out the math manipulatives, but these were extra special manipulatives. Emily filled a small paper cup about half full of M+Ms. And as much as kids are attracted to small colorful objects, small colorful chocolate objects are really engaging. She explained that he could use the candy to count out and subtract the numbers, and when the homework was successfully completed, they were his to eat.
The month of April has the wonderful distinction of being Autism Awareness Month, and today, April 2nd, is World Autism Day. Autism is a neurological disorder that disrupts a person’s learning and socialization. While it affects over 1.5 million people in the U.S., it’s considered a ‘spectrum’ disorder because the characteristics vary from person to person.
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Standardized tests can strike fear in the heart of any man – young and old, but ever wonder why? It seems odd that a few questions that require a pencil dot on a Scantron Sheet, can bring forth such stress and emotion. This is especially true for visual-spatial learners whose test results don’t reflect their true intelligence or ability. Testing is designed with a left-brain bias. Linear-thinkers with good short-term memory and deductive thinking skills are much more likely to score well on standardized tests, because they measure the way the left side of the brain works, leaving our right-brain kids at a significant disadvantage.