Wednesday, February 3, 2010

the snow

The Snow
by F. Ann Elliot

The snow, in bitter cold,
Fell all the night;
And we awoke to see
The garden white.

And still the silvery flakes
Go whirling by,
White feathers fluttering
From a gray sky.

Beyond the gate, soft feet
In silence go,
Beyond the frosted pane
White shines the snow.

The start of the second week of our Western European block found us with a snowy start to our day (which matched our poem for this week quite nicely!). So instead of a walk, we did some sensory-rich activities (jumping on the bed, crawling through cloth tunnels, bouncing on moon-bounces, crawling in body socks, climbing up and jumping off the loft, jumping down the hall in potato sacks) to repeated playings of the Italian song "Hey Gumbaree" (a favorite for all three of us from the Italian music CDs we've been listening to), then played several rousing rounds of Twister.

After practicing our "a" every day last week on the large form (this took an entire page in a good book), we were ready to move on to another format for it. (Today we introduced "f" and continued to work with "b" "c" "d" and "e" in the large format.) So we moved to pencils and pads of paper that I lined with forest paths. J made the transition smoothly and jotted out an entire line of neat, properly formed "a"s. But without the "8", Zoo Boy was a bit lost.

I tried showing him several different times and ways how to form that "a" the same way he did in the larger format, but he just wasn't getting it and was rapidly getting frustrated. Finally I realized that if I wrote little "8"s on the page, he could write the "a"s the same way he was in the larger format. He was very much relieved to be able to accomplish the task, and wrote a whole line of "a"s on top of my little yellow "8"s. So I'll keep supporting him with the "8"s as long as he needs it. Anything to keep up his positive association with (and willingness to participate in) writing!

Then we moved on to journals. Here's J's entry. We had a discussion afterwards about "vile" as opposed to "vial", and made up a couple of silly stories and jokes to go along with the two types of spellings and meaning. By a thorough coincidence, our story today was "The Fox and the Stork", in which the stork feeds the fox soup in a tall thin glass. J had trouble visualizing this, and I said "like a tall vial" and that started another playful round of "vial" versus "vile". I love how learning happens.... (By the way, after he wrote "favirot" he realized it was wrong, and asked me how to spell it, then changed to the correct spelling. Ordinarily I wouldn't draw attention to something like that, as it falls into the category of experimental spelling and I don't want to discourage him attempting larger words on his own, but since he asked I gave him the proper spelling. The difference with "vial" is that he already knew the words and just made an error as to which one he chose.)

Zoo Boy's journal entry. It says "IT'S CALLED A HARP-Y". I really wish he didn't prefer writing with light colored pencils!

One more note on The Boy: He started OT again yesterday -- his therapist was blown away by how cooperative he suddenly is (again, ANY cooperation is a huge improvement!) and how willing he was to work with her after our lengthy break. She said that she sees a big improvement in his pencil grip and his mid-line crossings, so the work we've been doing here at home has been paying off. Of course, I already knew that, but it's nice to hear a professional backing up my opinion!


Alyss said...


I've got a question about the figure 8 letters. When I was in middle school I got a calligraphy book and learned to print in Italic "font". One illustration in the book was of how many of the lower case letters fit in a shape, and it's just which sides of the shape you color in. The shape was, imagine, a tall rectangle with lines in an X connecting the upper left and lower right, and upper right with lower left. For instance, an a is the top, the right side, the middle up to the upper right, then down to the bottom. A b is a tall line down on the left, up the middle to the upper right, down the left and across the bottom. Does this make any sense?

Anyway... I guess the question is, what therapeutic purpose does the figure 8s make? Would drawing this shape and having him follow the lines help? (I mean, besides confusing him at this point after doing the other exercise)

I'm really just curious because after reading your description I started doing some figure 8s and making letters out of them. It was fun :)

Harvest Mom said...

Alyss, it sounds like a similar process, only with what you're describing you'd get guideance with roudning the top and bottom of the taller letters and those than hang below the line as well.

What I'm doing is working on both the mid-line crossing (reaching across their bodies with their writing hands) which is a lot of kids' biggest challenge with handwriting, and also giving attention the proper formation of the lower case letters. For Zoo Boy, this is actual directly teaching him to how to write the letters, because it's not a skill he currently possesses -- and it's harder for him because crossing midlines is a particular challenge for him. In J's case, he's not got the midline crossing problem, but he's been writing for years now (taught himself) and he does not form all of his letters properly (many he starts at the bottom rather than the top, for example), so it's more remedial for him.

Harvest Mom said...

Ok, I realized my mid-line crossing description was lousy in regards to handwriting (altough fairly accurate when thinking of midlines in general). Here's I hope a clearer example in regards to writing:

Think of that "8" lying on it's side, the way we do it in the exercise. Zoo Boy's natural inclination is to use his right hand to make the right-hand loop o the 8, then switch to his left hand to make the left-hand loop, because going past the "x" in the center of the 8 constitutes a mid-line crossing, and is difficult for him. By making him do the full "8" with one hand, it's forcing him to cross that midline. With repeated practice, it become more comfortable for him and eventually becomes a part of his brain's normal repertoire.

Alyss said...

Thank you for the explanation. That was more or less what I was thinking, but it was nice to hear your words describing what was going on. It's so fun to hear about how much your boys are growing and learning :)