Monday, February 13, 2012

E for Effort, F for (adorable) Face

Today we moved on from "just" pre-writing tracing and got into real letters. I'm not certain how much he really knows beyond J-u-d-e.  My initial instinct was to start in on A-B-C, because he's not great with putting things in ABC order, but then I read several articles that recommended working in a more natural progression, starting with "horizontal/vertical" line letters and working through to the ones that were more complex.  I know that doesn't help with ABC order, but I think for his motor skills/motor planning, this way will work for him.  He likes to draw and color, so we are doing dot-to-dots that use letters as point labels (instead of numbers) to work on putting things in order.

Today we started with the first two letters, Ee and Ff.  He did a great job with the prewriting drills, so these pages* were fairly easy for him. What was hard was learning to follow the directions and stopping/starting with his pencil.

He did great with the first line of the Getting Ready section,  but then struggled a little bit on the horizontal lines. It took several tries to learn to focus on the lines he was tracing, and to stop when the lines did.  Once he moved on to tracing letters, he wanted to just follow along with his pencil. It took real effort to stop, pick up his pencil, and go back and start over for the next stroke, rather than trying to do it all in one pass. Once he got the hang of 1-2-3-4 for E, he did well.  He added in an E at the end for good measure.

What takes him twice as long to do his work is that he often has to stop and tell me stories.  Today he told me all about baby elephants, like the one up in the corner. "He is looking for his Mommy.  He's hungry and wants a snack.  He would like Smarties and Celia chocolate, please."  (Nice try, buddy. Work, then snack.)

Little e was harder.  He did great with the stroke shapes, but is used to free-handing the e.  Rather than doing the more formal 1-2 strokes, he tends to work out the basic shape, and fill in the connections where necessary.  By the end, he was getting the idea. One thing we will need to work on is remembering that the line and the circle should "kiss" the first time around, rather than the line having to "run back over" to the round part.

F was tricky.  Uppercase F was a little harder, because after so many Es, he kept wanting to make the bottom line.

(For the record:  fish swim in the ocean, all drains lead to the ocean, and fish are friends not food.  Thank you Pixar, Nemo, and friends for those gems.)

It has taken him the longest of all to get used to the bouncing pre-writing exercises. Strokes he has done great with, in all directions.  He does fairly well with repeating regular/inverted Vs, lines with right angles, and other block-ish shapes.  But the rounded ones have been tough to make the curves.  Finally, I told them they were like the jellyfish that Marlin and Dory bounced on (sense a theme here?) and you had to boing-boing-boing over the line.  Eureka!  He has been bouncing away ever since.

 Surprisingly, having the camera around usually helps him focus.  I think it is at least partly because he wants a turn with it (and he can only take pictures after he is done all of his work for the day).  I like being able to document what we're doing, and to be able to watch him work.  Some of his best expressions are when he's working -- sometimes, you can almost see that proverbial little hamster in there, madly spinning on his wheel.

 Here, he's counting out the strokes.

Intent on bouncing.

 Taking a break.  Mr. Cuteness, or what?

*There are tons of letter writing pages out on the web.  The ones we used today can be downloaded here. They are from the blog Confessions of a Homeschooler.  There are lots of great ideas there for everything from Art to Writing. 

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