Racing to Reading

Racetrack headerMy son will be heading to Kindergarten this fall and my daughter is heading to 1st grade, so this summer I am focusing on getting him ready for school and keeping her skills sharp so that she doesn’t lose any ground over the long break.

While my daughter is happy to sit down and write, asking my son to put pencil to paper is like slow torture. His fine motor skills just aren’t as developed. He is aware that writing is difficult for him. He knows what the letters are and what they are supposed to look like, and gets frustrated when his do not look quite right. Begin the whole process of throwing himself to the ground, begging to do something, ANYTHING, but write. I know that eventually he will have to physically write, but for now I am focusing on building up his stamina and motor memory through more hands-on, gross motor activities.

The other day I was trying to get him to focus on some phonics activities, but he was too focused on driving his race cars through the obstacle course of magnetic letters strewn about the carpet. Eureka! I thought, “why not have him race his cars over giant letters”?

I still wanted him to do the rest of his work though. (He’s a crafty one. I know that if I let him out of something once, he will spend the rest of his energy from now until eternity trying to get me to let him out of it every time going forward!)

picture scheduleSo, I decided to build a picture schedule. I use these frequently with the kids, and they work beautifully for getting them to complete their tasks. You can see that I sandwiched the writing in between some gross motor tasks, and made the last something highly desirable: LUNCH! He needed a lot of motivation.

He was so excited to build his racetrack (even though he didn’t really know what we were going to do), that he got right to work. After he was finished with his first two tasks, we got out our supplies and started to construct the tracks.

Racetrack sequenceI used some poster board that we had laying around and cut it into several long strips, a couple shorter ones. I also free-handed a couple U-shaped curves and an S-shaped curve. Then I added the signature dashed lines with a black marker. He requested the starting line and finish line, so I did a quick checker board on some white construction paper. I let him play with it for awhile before we “got to work” on building and racing over the letters. We ended up using a little blue painter’s tape to hold it together.

I will probably end up laminating it, then adding small pieces of sticky back Velcro to the ends to hold the pieces together.

racetrack alphabet Collage

Finally, here are some pictures of him racing through his letters. I let him use the alphabet sheet on the floor as a visual. (I found these great “Highlight a Letter” printable over at The Inspired Apple where Abby has amazing stuff for Kinder and 1st’s!!) After he built each letter, I would ask him what sound it made. Then, he made the sound while he raced around the letters. I tried to get him to race from top to bottom. We used the checkerboards to show where he needed to start and stop (although I didn’t get a picture of that!) He made it through the whole alphabet, and was excited to show me how he could “write” each letter.

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