September 27, 2003

Spelling Walks

We visited a local teacher supply store the other day. Ostensibly, it was just to find some magnetic letters for the fridge. We walked out of the store at least a c–note lighter in the wallet, but with a whole slew of “toys” for Johann. All of these “toys” were actually educational tools. We got a small chalk board with grade school lettering rules across it, colored chalk, more magnetic letters and numbers, a few pre-kindergarten through first grade exercise workbooks covering numbers, letters, spelling and beginning reading, and a pair of teaching magazines full of ideas for pre-school and kindergarten lessons. We also got Johann his first pencil, a panda bear eraser and plenty of grade school-ruled practice writing paper. One of the ladies who works there, a former teacher, recognized Johann from when we visited the store almost two months ago. She remembered right away that he was the “animal boy” who loved all animals.

Mighty Minds Basic EditionShe recommended another item which we thought was great–Mighty Minds Basic Edition. This is a set of plastic geometric shapes and a collection of cards with shapes and designs on it. Each card has basic shapes on it—half circle, triangle, square, rhombus, etc.—and a design that can be made out of those shapes. There are 30 progressively harder cards included in the basic set. First you find and match the shapes on the card with the plastic pieces, then you assemble those shapes to match the design on the card. You may remember this type of exercise from various aptitude tests.

Johann is devouring everything we got! He played the Mighty Minds, which he calls the “shapes game”, for about an hour the first night and did not want to stop. He caught on to the game right away and zipped through the first half of the 30 cards without much difficulty. Luckily the same company, MightyMind, has a more advanced version and some additional card sets, plus with a little effort we can make our own card sets. He loves learning how to write the letters, although he sometimes gets frustrated by his results. Gee, I wonder were he gets that from. That is something I must make a very concerted effort to change in myself, if only for his benefit.

He is now counting up to 50 with some help. He sort of mixes German and English counting methods when he gets to 30, 40, etc. At these decade numbers he likes to say “twenty-ten, thirty-one, thirty-two…thirty-ten, forty-one, forty-two…forty-ten.” We are working on that gently, but steadily. He is reading a few more words each week, which is great. Some of them are ones we have specifically taught him, others are ones he has learned on his own–generally key words from one of his books. Of course, bed-time reading has become more protracted as he likes to spend about 15–20 minutes spelling out words in some of his older books. It’s wonderful, although we definitely have to allow for more time in our evening routine now.

One thing we I hadn’t counted on—we took a walk the other day to visit the local yarn shop and a friend who is taking a career change to be a professional poker player (a story for another day). Johann loves our walks and we often stop to smell the roses, or whatever flowers we find along the way. This time however, we were asked to stop at each street sign so that Johann could read the letters. He did excellently and recognized a few words that he spelled. It was great to see and be a part of that even though it made what is usually a leisurely 15 minute walk turn into an hour long walk.

Posted by Eric at September 27, 2003 02:07 PM | TrackBack
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