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Variety Reinforces Learning

I never have my students practice with their mouths alone - unless they plan to be in a spell down. Second, we never write a word the same way twice when practicing. I don't mean we deliberately make mistakes; we use different types and means of writing. Writing instruments can vary - pencil, crayon, pen, glue, pipe cleaners. The kids will come up with many more! I have the children use all capitals, or print, then cursive; we get even more daring, creating block letters, cloud-like letters, robotic letters, and 'snakey' letters. I introduce Morse Code, Braille, the Number Code, and the one based on the Cat and Rat symbol. Each year my groups have invented 'secret' codes of their own to use and add to our list. Because it's easier to go back and look at the original, the chance of picking up an error and replicating it is nearly eliminated, learning codes is fun, and the added attention to details appears to make the sequence of letters stick in the memory more securely. Finally, when we need a stretch break, instead of just doing exercises we do a take-off of the YMCA song and actions. Either I lead and they follow my actions, or I pick a student to start (and they pick who follows them). The leader chooses a word. The group, following the actions of the leader, acts out the word with whole-body letters while singing the letters to the YMCA melody. Two or three words is usually about right for a break, and it's a fun way to get the kinks out and the letters in!


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