Spelling and Mat Man

A favorite that the girls love to do is Mat Man which is a program built around Handwriting Without Tears.  We use HWT for handwriting skills.  We listen to a CD with the Map Man song on it which tells the girls which part of the body to draw first (of Map Man).  While the girls are building these parts we discuss whether the wooden pieces that they are using to build him are “long lines” or “short lines”…..”small curves” or “big curves”.  I use this same language when guiding the children to write their letters independently on their chalkboards or paper.  After using the wooden pieces to build map man we draw him with crayons or other utensils.  I like using oil crayons by crayola because they draw smoothly without paper bunching and it makes it more stress free for Lily without the movement of paper while she is writing.  The photography below shows the girls building and drawing map man while listening to the map man song.  You’ll notice that mat man is sad until he has all of his body parts.  lol.

After the girls switched turns on who got to do what part they started their drawing of mat man.

After working on simple handwriting skills we moved onto sandletters and the sand tray which are two more favorites.  In between writing letters Lily likes the freedom of being able to play with her plastic animals and Maggie enjoys drawing pictures in between letter setups.  The first step is determining the letter we are working on where I added the alphabet flip book to the lesson today.  It gives them a visual then we pick pictures from the page to spell out with the moveable alphabet after working with the writing in the sand.  After the letter is discussed and the sound it makes the girls write out the letter in their sandtray using the sandletters as practice beforehand.  After writing the letter in the sand the girls write it on their chalkboards.  Today we used the square HWT board instead of the double line board.  Once handwriting was finished the girls moved to mats on the floor to build the words they chose from the flipbook pages.

Lily is now independently writing her letters in both the sand and on the chalkboard.  Handwriting on paper must be focused on, but because the letters are to be written with pencil on the lines they must also be written smaller.  She is having a hard time making the letters small as her pencil grip needs improvement for proper control to make this possible.  But the independent writing is a major milestone achieved and I couldn’t be more proud.  We did this with step by step instructions of myself writing each step on a small chalkboard in front of the girls while they followed through with the steps I modeled.  Maggie is doing a better job too as she is able to watch the order of both upper case and lower case letters to achieve better results and better handwriting skills.

Yes, that’s a halloween pumpkin on the counter.   No sense in throwing away a perfectly good pumpkin without carving it out first.  The only additional element I threw in was the Eggspert game in case the attention went astray while writing letters.  We hardly had to use if for focus however.

Below is  a picture of the floor setup which is where we spelled the chosen words from the flipchart.  Additionally, I threw in some words with missing vowel sounds so the girls could work on the identification of vowel sounds in words.

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Maggie and Lily working on the letter A.  Lily’s A was drawn completely independently and Maggie has been great at handwriting skills for some time.

I wrote down the more difficult words to spell for the girls as a visual to get them started.  Many of the words were sounded out and spelled independently without a visual.

Above is Lily writing out independently the letter C.  My focus was mostly on capital letters today but Lily insisted writing both the capital forms and the lower case forms after she began succeeding in writing.  It excited her and propelled her forward to do more.  I also find the using the sandletters with lily increases awareness and ease of writing the letter as it helps her remember the motor planning of writing it as she continues in the sand and on the chalkboard as well.

Maggie does very well with word lists as I’ve mentioned before.  Here is an example of one of the lists she read through today in between writing.

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Above work shows the words with missing vowels and some of the final products after the girls did their work.

We also read Dick and Jane books today and Bob Books as part of our reading.  Lily read 2 complete Dick and Jane books from the series (Volumes 1 & 2) cover to cover with little assistance.  Maggie is working on her reading skills with Dick and Jane too along with Bob books.  Lily additionally read through a Bob Book without too much effort and we focued on articulation with the Kaufman cards Set 2 as requested by Lily.  The girls enjoy placing the cards out and randomly creating stories with them after reading the words.  I added the extra step of reading the word before showing the picture by covering up the articulation wording under the actual spelling on the back of the card.  Tomorrow and the following days we will be working on more language with this as the focus now that I see improvement on handwriting skills for Lily and reading with Maggie.

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