One glance at the photo below and words become unnecessary. Such is the power of an image. Artists and marketers alike understand the power of images to communicate, to convince, and to sway. Images are powerful because meaning is conveyed in one instant, the image is stored in the brain, and when the image evokes emotion in the viewer, the message becomes unforgettable.
What if we took all that is hard, boring, and dry in education and used images to teach it? Wouldn't that be amazing? For sure, our young learners would be much happier and more successful. Learning would no longer feel like learning; it would be more like absorbing ideas visually. Snap! and they would have it!
I remember some ideas that were hard for my young students to just remember. You know these concepts as well! Letter and number reversals are some of the most common difficulties for beginners. We show our students a symbol and tell them the name of it and expect (and need?) them to remember both for the next time it comes up.
These symbols represent only a handful of those that are problematic for young people. Verbally telling a child how to correct the number or letter just doesn't help. Next time they need to write that symbol, there is nothing to remind them of how to do it correctly. An image can be your biggest ally in times such as these. Something concrete and familiar to the child can also be a great tool to use…such as the child’s own hands.
A visual and tactile cue for forming an S properly involves a tiny story along with a hand cue and voila, the tricky S is done! Story? Make a cave with your left hand. Start with your pencil at the end of your pointer finger and trace the cave and then your thumb below the cave. The line they are drawing can be a snake crawling into and then out of the cave beginning at the top!
For lefties, have them use their right-hand pointer finger (cave-seeking bear) and point into the cave. They will trace around the pointer finger tip and then curve around the other way to make “stacked caves.” Apartment caves for bears anyone?
Let’s ease learning hard concepts by grouping like things together, rather than teaching in isolation. Here we see some “cave letters” that can be taught together. The cave is made as in the S example above, then each of the letters are formed from inside that cave. Lefties would substitute the bear pointer finger that is going into his cave. These helps are all available in Alphabet Tales.
When working through refining the difference between b and d, use the jingle “B’s like to walk, while D’s like to talk.” Then display the visual for reference. I actually had my students act out being b and d. We lined up and all the little “b’s” who were ready to walk faced to the right. Then we’d insert a few talkative “d’s” who of course were facing the wrong way (face to the left) and chat about how those “d’s” might bump into walls or crash into the person behind them because they were not looking where they were going.
Of course, using one’s own hands for the bd connection is powerful as well. I had my students make a bed with their hands and use that as a quick reference for the correct direction for these tricky letters. Many times I caught a glimpse of a child making the bed surreptitiously under his or her desk so no one would see, then quickly would continue writing, able to form the letters correctly! Any child can sound out the word bed, and in doing so will note that the left-hand makes the shape of the b, the knuckles of both hands make the mattress while the right-hand forms the d.
I am sure there are a myriad of other ideas that help children with reversals! Feel free to jump in here and share your own helps!