Dr. Warren has a blogger blog entitled Learning Specialist Materials Blogspot. Here you can access her articles.

Early Literacy: Letter, Number and Shape Challenges

Occasionally, I get inquiries from other learning specialists in the field that have difficult cases. Recently, a director of a tutoring academy asked me a question about a new student, and I thought I would share our correspondence for this week’s blog post.  Names have been altered to preserve anonymity.

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Dear Erica:

I have a question about a new case.  When I first contacted you about two years ago, it was because I had a little 5-year-old girl who was way behind.  Your guidance really helped me.  Anyway her first cousin has come to us.  The girl turned 4 in June, and she is having a number of issues.   She has no number recognition and no letter recognition, except the letter “A” – because her name is Alice.  She does recognize most of the basic shapes.  However, she can only trace, but not copy them.  I asked her to write her name, but all letters were illegible – but the letter A.  I’m not sure it was even her name. She knew all her colors, but blue, which she called “lellow.” I had her color fruit, and she colored both grapes and an apple blue. She had no rhyming ability, and no concept of compound words.   I gave her the two words to put together.  I don’t know where to begin.  Do you have any suggestions?

Dear Sue: 
I like to work off of student strengths, and it sounds like Alice can trace.  So, I would use this ability and have her trace things and color them by placing images into dry erase pockets.  Be sure to get a variety of dry erase markers too.  

Here are my suggested steps:
  1. First, you can place letters, numbers, and different colored shapes into the dry erase pockets and ask Alice to trace them while saying the name (and color – if applicable) 5 times.  In the beginning, stick to one category and limit the instruction to 5 concepts.  For example, focus on the first 5 letters of the alphabet.  You can do both upper and lower case letters at the same time, or focus on one at a time. 
  2. Second, blow up a balloon and write each of the 5 letters onto it with a permanent marker.  Be sure to make the letters as large as possible.
  3. Third, toss the balloon to Alice and see if she can name the first letter she sees while tracing it on the balloon.  Pass the balloon back and forth.  You can do the activity too, so she can learn vicariously through demonstration.  After she can do each of the letters successfully, teach her the letter sound.  Toss the balloon up in the air.  Say you see the letter “B” trace the letter and say the letter name 5 times.  Then say “B makes the ‘b’ sound like balloon.”  Do this for each letter and then let Alice give it a try.
  4. Fourth, when Alice is ready, make the game even more challenging – Each time she gets the balloon and sees a letter, she has to come up with a new word that starts with the same sound – “B makes the ‘b’ sound like banana…”  “B makes the ‘b’ sound like ball….”  
  5. Fifth, when the session is over, encourage Alice to take the balloon home and teach the games to her parents and siblings. 

You can follow the same sequence for numbers and shapes.

Use the App Touch and Write.  This is such a fun, multisensory, motivating approach that I’m sure she will enjoy!

As another activity, you could also teach Alice about syllables:  I like to use kinesthetic movements when teaching this concept, where you and the student bounce on ball chairs, learn a simple song about syllables and then feel the syllables.  Here is a video I did that illustrates the concept: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FRVqZw_FS-c
I would start to teach her rhyming and blending once she has learned all her letters, numbers and shapes.  If you find that she likes to play games, you can check out my reading games primary too.  
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I hope you found this blog helpful, and that sharing our correspondence has offered you some ideas.


Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials.  She is also the director of Learning to Learn, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to www.goodsensorylearning.comwww.dyslexiamaterials.com & www.learningtolearn.biz  

Slow and Labored Reading: Causes and Solutions for Dyslexia and More

Slow and labored reading can make schooling a drag for many bright students, and in order to truly help these struggling learners, teachers and support personnel need to understand the root causes. The problem is that each student has their own unique contributing factors.  As a result, the best way to serve each student is to begin with an investigation.  

What are the Three Main Causes of Slow and Labored Reading?

Three main causes of slow reading.

1) Cognitive – Deficits or weaknesses in key cognitive processing areas can point to a root cause of slow and labored reading.  Common areas of deficit that can impact reading speed are:

  • Auditory processing 
  • Visual processing
  • Memory
  • Processing speed
  • Executive functioning and attention

2) Physical – Discomfort in the physical process can also make the process of reading difficult and it can minimize the practice needed.  For some learners, the reading process is: 

  • Exhausting: Some report that reading is wearisome for the eyes and can even make them feel sleepy.
  • Uncomfortable and annoying: Others find the reading process boring, tedious and aggravating.
  • Overwhelming:  Many individuals complain that they are visually overwhelmed by small or dense text.

3) Emotional – The pairing of negative emotions with reading can also impact one’s reading.  

  • Learned helplessness: When students feel a sense of learned helplessness from repeated failure, they can give up and avoid reading altogether.
  • Adversity: When reading becomes associated with adversity, students can experience the 3 Fs. 1) Fight – They will refuse to read. 2) Flight – They will walk away or even hide books. 3) Freeze – They seem unable to process the written word.
  • Feelings of inadequacy: When students feel that they are deficient readers, they can become passive learners and their fear of failure can become as self-fulfilling prophecy. 
Once Difficulties Have Been Uncovered, Also Look at each Student’s Strengths:

By defining a student’s strengths, it can help to uncover the needed tools that can be used to help each student work around challenging areas.  Like a detour, students can often learn to use other parts of the brain to assist them.  For example, a student may have poor reading comprehension but a a strong mind’s eye.  Some explicit instruction can assist them in applying this talent to reading.


Whose Responsibility is This?

Many teachers and parents do not have the time and resources to provide this detailed analysis for each of their struggling learners, but support personnel such as special education teachers, and psychologists can help.  In addition, if students are working with an outside educational therapist or learning specialist, they too can be a valuable resource.  

Once Contributing Factors and Strengths are Defined, What Can Teachers and Parents Do?
Once deficits and strengths are defined, teachers and parents can help these learners develop and utilize the needed strategies.   Here is a comprehensive list of possible methods to choose from:

  • Be patient and provide a supportive, appealing learning environment.   To read more CLICK HERE.
  • Help students to develop their capacity to visualize.  This can assist students in maintaining focus and improving memory.
  • Teach students mindfulness, so they have greater control over their concentration while reading.
  • Use assistive technology.
    • Text to voice or books on tape can be used in one of two ways.  Students can listen and make a conscious effort to visualize what they are hearing, or they can scan words while listening to improve whole word recognition.
    • Tracking devices help the eyes to move in a fluid, forward motion from one line of text to another.
    • Color overlays or lenses can change the background color so that the visual process of reading is less agitating. 
    • Color and font type adjustments can make the reading process easier to decode words.  Students can select and adjust the text to meet their own preference.
  • Provide remedial reading instruction.  Some students need alternative, multisensory reading instruction using an Orton-Gilllingham based reading program.   One of my favorite OG reading programs is Nessy.
  • Do cognitive remedial activities that help to strengthen weak areas of cognition.  You can find a large selection of these tools at Good Sensory Learning.
  • Provide reasonable accommodations:  When students have diagnosed learning disabilities, they can pursue a 504 or IEP designation that can provide mandated assistance.  Some options include:
    • Readers for tests
    • Books on tape
    • Tracking software
    • Extended time
  • Offer pages with fewer words for those that get visually overwhelmed.  Limiting the amount of text on each page can be very helpful.
  • Present instruction on higher order language such as inferences.
  • Make reading fun by integrating reading games.
  • Start each student at the right level, so they can experience success.
  • Help students discriminate between important and unimportant details.
  • Improve sight word recognition.
  • Improve vocabulary by exposing students to more words, so they can be easily recognized when reading.
  • Teach skimming strategies so that students can quickly find main ideas and details when reading.
  • Help students read with the mind instead of subvocalizing each word.
I hope you found this helpful!  I would love to hear your thoughts!


Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials.  She is also the director of Learning to Learn, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to www.goodsensorylearning.comwww.dyslexiamaterials.com & www.learningtolearn.biz  

Dyslexia Strategies: Improving Your Memory for Names

A common difficulty for individuals with dyslexia is word finding problems.  They may know someone’s or something’s name one day, but are unable to access the same information the next.  In fact, in those moments when they can not recall the needed name, they may be able to tell you how many syllables are in the name or even the beginning letter.  This can be a frustrating and embarrassing problem, and learning memory strategies can help.
Managing Word Finding Difficulties:
The key to improving memory is to be mindful and employ memory strategies that are in line with strengths.  By playing an active role, individuals with dyslexia can learn to organize material, employ methods and make connections to prior knowledge so new information can be encoded and then easily retrieved. 
How Can One Determine Strengths that Can Be Utilized?
The answers to the following questions, can help tailor an approach!
Do you remember what you:
  • see?  – use visual strategies
  • hear?  – use auditory strategies
  • touch? – use tactile strategies
  • say or discuss? – use verbal strategies
  • think about? – use reflective strategies
  • sequence? – use sequential strategies
  • categorize? – use simultaneous strategies
Visual Strategies:
Generate visual associations. A visual association allows you to connect a mental image with the information memorized.  
  • Say you are introduced to a woman named Mary.  You could visualize her on her wedding day getting married. 
  • Say you met a little girl named Patricia.  You could visualize giving Patricia a pat on her back.
  • There is a local garden where I love to take walks.  The woman that runs the facility always remembers my name and greets me with a smile.  After forgetting her name twice, I decided to come up with a strategy.  When she reminded me that her name was Barb, I said, “Ah, there is barbed wire around the gardens to keep the deer out.”
  • I remember the first time I met a co-worker named Vera.  She was wearing a V-necked shirt, so I made the conscious effort to visualize Vera in her V-necked shirt.
Auditory Strategies:
Create rhyming word associations.  
  • Say you met a guy named Paul.  Perhaps Paul is small.  If not, perhaps you could find some part of his body that is small – such as his nose or ears.
Create auditory associations.  A word may sound like something that reminds you of the person.  
  • For example, Rich may be a wealthy or a “rich” man.
Use the alphabet.  Search through the alphabet to see if that jogs your memory.  
  • “Does his name begin with A?  With B?…”

Tactile Strategies:
Use a pen and paper.  The physical act of writing down the names that you have to remember, can be very helpful for some individuals.  

  • When you meet someone new, you can place their name and any notes in a little notebook on your smart phone.
Verbal Strategies:
Utilize verbal rehearsal.  Some individuals are assisted when they are able to verbalize new information.  
  • After you are introduced to someone, say their name aloud and then try to use it as much as possible.
Reflective Strategies:
Make personal connections. 
  • When meeting new people, associate their name with another person you already know that has the same name.  
  • I remember the flower impatiens, because I used to get impatient trying to remember the name. 

Sequential Strategies:
Organize information in a sequence or series.

  • If you have to learn a group of names, organize them in alphabetical order.

Simultaneous Strategies:
Organize the information into categories.  Arrange the material you have to learn by placing the names into groups.

  • I have trouble recalling the names of flowers.  One day, I noticed that four of the flowers that bloom in my garden each year all start with the letter, H.   This is often enough for me to recall: hosta, hydrangea, hibiscus, and hyacinth.  What’s more, three begin with the sound “hi!” 
Combining Strategies:
Unite two or more strategies for better results!  It will be even easier to recall names when using more than one strategy!  
  • Geranium rhymes with the word cranium (auditory) and my red geraniums in my garden are shaped similar to a brain (visual).
  • When I’m networking and meet new people online, I utilize both a visual and tactile approach. All new people are placed into a document within a table.  In the first column, I copy a picture of that person.  In the second column, I record their name and contact information.  In the third column, I record some notes about them and our correspondences.
So, if you want to improve your memory or help others to do so, be sure to try some of these mindful and multisensory approaches.  I hope you found this helpful!  If you have other ideas, please share them below this blogpost. 
Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials.  She is also the director of Learning to Learn, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to www.goodsensorylearning.comwww.dyslexiamaterials.com & www.learningtolearn.biz  
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Back to School Checklist for Parents

Getting prepared for the upcoming school year can be a complicated
task that involves gathering school supplies, connecting with new teachers and
administrators, establishing individual needs, creating house rules and
routines, coordinating nutritious meals and snacks, and arranging any needed
accommodations.  To help with the process, I have created the following
checklist:

Stock Up on School Supplies
p Check the school website or call to inquire about of list of
required supplies.
p Find out whether students will store supplies at school or bring
them home each day.
p See if the school will allow you to get an extra copy of all
textbooks for use at home.  If
not, you can usually find used copies on the internet.
Plan to be Involved
p Mark school events on the family calendar.
p Attend back-to-school meetings.
p Schedule and attend parent-teacher conferences.
p Find out the best way to communicate with each teacher – phone,
email or note.
p Find out from each teacher how he or she communicates homework
assignments.
p If your child has a 504 designation or IEP, be sure to make
arrangements to meet with the teacher so that you can review strategies that
have worked in the past.
Create a Scheduled Plan and Routine with Clear Expectations
p Create a study schedule for each student in the house.
p Arrange childcare, tutors and after-school activities.
p Avoid over-scheduling.  All
students need free time.
p Create a Family Life Schedule by purchasing a dry erase board with
a two-month calendar.  Schedule
major family plans, activities and appointment for each family member in a
different color.
Establish the Rules and Routines
p Establish a firm bedtime before school starts.
p Determine where and when your child will do their homework.
p Figure out a plan for balancing homework and free time.
p Set firm rules for television, video games, and computer use for
non-school related work.
Plan for Healthy Meals and Snacks
p Arrange healthy breakfasts that avoids sugary cereal, syrup, and
processed, prepackaged foods and mixes.  Consider
options like fresh eggs, yogurt with fruit, and gluten free organic bread. 
p Have plenty of healthy snacks that are free from sweeteners and
preservatives.  Consider
snacks like fresh fruit, cut veggies, nut butter, and dried fruit, nuts and
seeds.
p Make what I like to call “brain food.” Go to an organic market and
select unsweetened, preservative free nuts, seeds, dried fruit that your child
likes and make snack bags.  I love to get all my snack food from Tierra Farm.
Call the School and Make Arrangements for Any Needed Accommodations
p If your child has a 504 or IEP make sure that all accommodations
are updated.
p Meet with all teachers to assure that they understand the
individual needs of your child.
p Provide a summary of your child’s strengths and weaknesses as well
as their needed accommodations for the teachers.
p Arrange for routine communication with all teachers, tutors and
therapists.
To learn more about teaching executive functioning
skills and acquiring other helpful learning materials, consider purchasing Planning
TimeManagement and Organization for Success
.
 This digital download offers methods and handouts that guide and support
students in the areas of learning strategies, time management, planning and organization.  It
includes questionnaires, agendas, checklists, as well as graphic
organizers.  You will also find handouts and advice for reading,
math, memory, setting priorities, motivation and incentives programs.  These tools were
created over a ten-year period for my private practice, and the materials
accommodate learners of all ages from elementary to college.  What’s
more, I offer a free
sample
 assessment from
the publication too, as well as a free
video
 on executive
functioning.  

Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials.  She is also the director of Learning to Learn, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to: www.goodsensorylearning.com, www.dyslexiamaterials.com www.learningtolearn.biz  

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Are We Grading or Degrading our Students? Let’s Shift Paradigms

Over the 15 years that I have worked as a learning specialist and educational therapist, I have never had a student come into my office with a poor test grade and ask me to help them to learn the material that they clearly did not master.  Instead of nurturing a desire to learn, our current paradigm instills a fear of failure.  As a result, when a student receives what they believe to be a poor grade on a test or assignment, they often feel degraded and ashamed.  Oftentimes, these tests and assignments are hidden or thrown away, and learning takes a nosedive.  In fact, when a student does unexpectedly poorly on a test, they are often so mortified that they learn little to nothing the rest of the day.  Instead they tend to internally ruminate and stress about the grade.  Sadly, it is the high test grades that students love to share and celebrate, as students quickly learn that they are rewarded for perfection.

Traditional Grading Only Points Out the Errors:
When teachers limit feedback to pointing out errors on assignments and tests, this can be both demoralizing and discouraging for learners.  Can you imagine working in an environment that only points out errors?  Too much criticism can be discouraging and can cause kids to dislike school and ultimately learning.

Where Does This Leave the Average Student or Struggling Learners?
Average students and struggling learners are often disempowered and frustrated, as they rarely, if ever, get to experience the grades they desire.  As a result, many of these learners can fall prey to a sense of learned helplessness.  Learned helplessness is a condition in which a person suffers from a sense of powerlessness, arising from persistence failure.  They learn to give up quickly as past efforts have failed.  It is thought to be one of the underlying causes of depression, acting out in school and even juvenile delinquency.

Learning to Embrace Mistakes Builds Resilience:
Conversely, we should thank our students for sharing their misconceptions and mistakes and offer rewards for learning from them.  We should teach them the value of, “giving it another try” and learning from mishaps.  They should know that most of our greatest inventions were the result of repeated mistakes.  In fact, it was reported that Thomas Edison made 1000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb. When asked about it, Edison allegedly said, “I have not failed 1000 times.  I have successfully discovered 1000 ways NOT to make a light bulb.” 

How Can We Shift Paradigms to an Environment that Helps Students Embrace and Celebrate Learning?

  1. Teach students that you love hearing about their mistakes and misconceptions.  You can even offer a locked box where students can safely and anonymously ask questions or request the review or reteaching of a topic.
  2. When students make a mistake, guide them to the correct answer.  Use words like:
    • “You’re getting there.”  
    • “Almost.”  
    • “You’re getting warmer.”
    • “Give it another try.”
  3. Reward students for effort instead of intelligence. As Winston Churchill professed, “Continuous effort – not strength or intelligence – is the key to unlocking our potential.”
  4. Let go of grades and only make comments.  Begin by telling students what they did right, and then point out a few things they can do to improve their abilities.  Try to offer more feedback on what you liked and limit negative feedback, so students do not get overwhelmed.
  5. Allow students to always earn back partial credit for doing assignment and test corrections.
  6. Share your own past mistakes and misconceptions.  
  7. If you don’t know an answer to a question, admit it.  Then demonstrate for your students how to find the answer.
  8. When students make a mistake, do not give them the answer.  Instead guide them to the correct response.  You can even turn it into a game like, “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” – where students can ask for one the the following lifelines: 50:50 (give them a choice of two options), ask the class (poll the class), or ask a peer.

I hope you found this blog helpful.  If you have some other suggestions, please make a comment below this posting.

Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials.  She is also the director of Learning to Learn, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to: www.goodsensorylearning.com, www.dyslexiamaterials.com www.learningtolearn.biz  

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Dyslexia: Understanding and Remediating Auditory Processing Skills

Although there are a number of cognitive processing deficits that can cause a diagnosis of dyslexia or a reading disability, challenges with auditory processing tend to be the prevailing cause for many struggling readers.  However, many of the terms used to describe these core problems can be confusing.  In fact, wading through a comprehensive testing report can be overwhelming, because they are packed with complex cognitive and remedial terminology.  In this blog, I hope to unscramble the tangle of terms associated with auditory processing.
What are Some Key Terms One Should Understand?
  1. Auditory Processing:  Auditory processing is the brain’s interpretation of the sounds we hear. A difficulty or delay with auditory processing is not an issue with hearing, but with the understanding of what is heard.  It’s a complex operation that involves auditory synthesis, auditory closure, auditory sequencing, auditory discrimination, segmenting and auditory memory.  
  2. Auditory Synthesis or Auditory Blending: The ability to pull together individual sounds to form words.
  3. Auditory Closure: The ability to fill in any missing sounds to decode a word.  For example, this may involve understanding what someone with a foreign accent maybe saying when they delete a sound or two in a word.
  4. Auditory Sequencing: The ability to properly order language sounds in words or sentences.  For example, a child may reverse the units of sound so that when they say the word animal it comes out “aminal.”
  5. Auditory Discrimination: The ability to recognize differences between sounds.  For example, some students may struggle hearing the difference between the short “e” and “a” sounds.
  6. Segmenting: The ability to break a word into individual sounds or phonemes.
  7. Auditory Memory: The ability to remember what is heard.
  8. Phonological Processing: The ability
    to detect and discriminate a broad awareness of sounds including rhyming words, alliterations, syllables, blending sounds into words, as well as deleting or substituting sounds.
  9. Phonemes: The tiny units of sound that make up speech – such as the letter sounds.
  10. Phonemic Awareness: The ability to hear, identify, and manipulate individual sounds – also known as phonemes.  This, for example, includes the ability to detect the first sound, middle sound and end sound in a word.
  11. Phonics: A method of teaching reading by pairing sounds with letters or groups of letters.  It is the process of mapping speech into print.
  12. Receptive Language:  The ability to understand the language that we input, including
    both words and gestures. 
How Can These Difficulties be Remediated?
  1. Use an Orton-Gillingham, phonics based reading program that offers activities that strengthen auditory processing.  One of my favorite programs is Nessy Reading and Spelling.  There are many programs available, and our friends at the Dyslexia Reading Well offer a great review of the different programs.
  2. Build core cognitive skills through games and remedial activities.  Here is a great bundle of cognitive exercises at Good Sensory Learning
  3. Integrate fun activities that help students to practice the needed skills.  Check out the Reading Gamesfollowing Directions Activities and other fun reading publications at Good Sensory Learning.
I hope you found this helpful.  I would love to hear your thoughts.

Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials.  She is also the director of Learning to Learn, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to: www.goodsensorylearning.com, www.dyslexiamaterials.com www.learningtolearn.biz  

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Good Sensory Learning Offers Affiliate Marketing Commission Opportunity

Dear friends, fans and loyal customers of Good Sensory Learning: 
I’m happy to announce that I now have a new affiliate program that is available to you.  You can earn commissions simply by referring friends or customers to my website.  Each time one of these referrals makes a purchase you will earn a commission.  To start, all affiliates make 15%, but those who send a lot of traffic can be rewarded with greater commissions – up to 30%.
If you would like to learn more about becoming an affiliate CLICK HERE.
In addition, you will notice that I have redesigned my site for an easy navigation and shopping experience.  Please come by Good Sensory Learning and let me know how I can make it even better! 

Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials.  She is also the director of Learning to Learn, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to: www.goodsensorylearning.com, www.dyslexiamaterials.com www.learningtolearn.biz  

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Remediating Dyslexia with Orton Gillingham Based Reading Games

Students with dyslexia and other language-based learning disabilities often learn differently and require an alternative approach to learning basic reading.  What’s more, these young learners are working full tilt while sitting in the classroom and by the time they get home and have to complete their homework, they are mentally spent.  As a result, tagging on remedial reading lessons to a cup that is already overflowing can be enough to turn these kids off to learning altogether.

How Do We Help These Students Learn the Core Skills Needed to be Successful Readers?

  1. First, use a remedial program that is backed by time, testimonials and research.  The Orton-Gillingham approach to reading is a well-established and researched approach that offers a multisensory, sequential, incremental, cumulative, individualized, and explicit approach.  There are many programs that are available.  Click here to learn about a selection of these programs. 
  2. Second, employ an individualized approach as each student has unique challenges and gaps in knowledge.  If you need to assess the areas that require remediation be sure to use an assessment tool such as the Good Sensory Learning Reading Assessment
  3. Third, the process needs to be fun and engaging.  Many programs required students to slog through boring lessons, complicated rules, and bland workbook pages. Many of these concepts can be instructed through cute memory strategies and fun activities.  You can find many fun supplemental materials here
  4. Fourth, integrate a student-created, colorful, language arts handbook or guide. Click here to learn more about this method. 
  5. Fifth, help students learn how to visualize what they are reading.  Many struggling readers do not have the cognitive space to use their mind’s eye when reading, therefore, developing this skill to automaticity is key.  To learn about the research behind visualization and learning as well as how to teach this needed skill click here.  
  6. Sixth, and most important, supplement all reading programs with card and board games that allow students to practice the concepts they are learning.  This brings the fun factor into learning and can help to nurture a love for reading.
Where Can I Find Multisensory and Fun Reading Games?
At Good Sensory Learning, we offer a large selection of downloadable card and board games that work with any Orton-Gillingham or phonics based reading program.  In addition, we have many other supplemental multisensory reading activities and materials.  In fact, we just unveiled a new website. Let me know what you think!

Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials.  She is also the director of Learning to Learn, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to: www.goodsensorylearning.com, www.dyslexiamaterials.com www.learningtolearn.biz  

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Fast Remedial Results for Dyslexics: Creating Mindful Language Arts Handbooks

Do your students have trouble remembering all the phonics, grammar and spelling rules? Do you have to continually review past lessons to assure that struggling readers know the foundational skills? Do you find that one day a student has mastered a concept and the next day you have to start at square one? Having to continually review the same old stuff can be a boring chore for everyone involved. However, one of the most effective methods I have employed with my students is helping them to create their own colorful, language arts handbook.  What’s more, this activity can be fun, engaging, and memorable.
What Format Should be Used?
I find that it is best to be flexible.  Let each student select from doing his or her handbook on a computer or by hand in a photo album, blank book, binder or a notebook. 
What are the Secrets to Making a Student Created Handbook Work?

  1. Make this project exciting and be enthusiastic!
  2. Let each student come up with their own fun name for their handbook and allow them to create their own colorful cover. 
  3. Give clear directions and provide sample pages.  
  4. Allow your students to use a large selection of art and craft supplies such as paints, magazine clippings (to make a collage), stickers, sparkles and more.
  5. Encourage your students to share strategies and ideas.
  6. If needed, break the page into labeled sections so that your students know what they have to include on each page.
  7. Teach students to place a single concept on each new page.
  8. If there are a series of steps required to learn a task, help the students define a color-coded sequence of steps.  Encourage them to use a numbered list, web, or flowchart. 
  9. Integrate both visual and auditory mnemonics, rhymes, raps, and ditties on each page.
  10. Include sample problems or examples on each page. 
  11. If the student is highly kinesthetic, encourage them to come up with a hand clapping routine or dance for the rhymes, ditties and raps.
  12. Tell your students that you will be having contests for the best pages for each new concept. Take these winning pages and scan them for your own, “Best of Language Arts Handbook.” This handbook can be used to motivate and give ideas to future students.  Try to help each student in the class win at least one page in your, “Best of Language Arts Handbook.”
Sample Page:


Here is a pinnable image:

If you would like to do something similar for math, come read my blog entitled Mathemagic: Multisensory and Mindful Math Strategies Tailored for the Individual 

Here is a pinnable image:  

I would love to hear your thoughts.  Please share them below this blog post.

Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials. She is also the director of Learning to Learn, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to: www.goodsensorylearning.com, www.dyslexiamaterials.com www.learningtolearn.biz  


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12 Summer Activities that Nurture Cognitive and Academic Growth

Over the summer, many students experience the “summer slide” phenomenon and lose both cognitive and academic gains from the prior school year. In fact, those who are already behind, can be the ones that stand to lose the most. However, this doesn’t have to be the case! With as little as an hour a day, students can maintain and even improve their knowledge and abilities. So what can we do to help our young learners fight the slide and make significant gains while having fun?

12 Activities that Help Children Improve Learning and Cognition Over the Summer

  1. Design a fun learning nook with your house for your children, and have fun coming up with an imaginative name for this magical space such as Penelope’s Princess Palace, Bobby’s Boisterous Bungalow, Hal’s Happy Hideout, Amy’s Adventure-filled Attic, Ian’s Imaginative Igloo…  This can be created in a loft, in a tent, under an elevated bed or table etc.  Use pillows, drapes, Christmas lights, stuffed animals, and pack it with fun books, activities and other learning resources.  CLICK HERE for some fun resources. 
  2. Find fun apps and websites that kids can play on Ipads and computers.  CLICK HERE for a list of online resources.  CLICK HERE for a list of app resources.
  3. Designate a specific time each day where the whole family gets together to have a “love, learn, and laugh hour.”  You can work together on a project, play an educational game or work individually on your own project. 
  4. Go to educational places like the science museum, the planetarium, aquarium, nature center, etc.
  5. Arrange an “adventure” or “exploration” and take pictures or collect objects from nature. Afterwards, have fun looking up the names of each the items and learning about them.
  6. Create learning stations such as “Magical Mathematics, Whoopee Words, Spectacular Science, Brain Busters…”  Fill each station with activities and resources.  CLICK HERE for some fun resources.
  7. If math is difficult, work together to create a math manual.  Create a fun and enticing title for the project and use images, define the sequence of steps required to complete a problem, integrate memory strategies, and most of all use lots of color and art supplies.  This can also be done for reading, fine motor weaknesses or other areas of difficulty. 
  8. Sign students up for fun programs like The Khan Academy, the Nessy line of products.
  9. Write a family summertime newsletter or blog that can be shared with friends and family.  Let your children be a part of taking images, videos, writing articles and more.  You can do this for free on Blogger, or sites like Edublogs and Kidblog that offers teachers and students free blog space and appropriate security. 
  10. Have fun making cool things.  Instead of purchasing games and items, make your own out of recycled materials.  Some possible ideas are to create an obstacle course, a fairy wand, candles, origami…
  11. Teach your children about giving back to the community by picking up litter, volunteering with an animal rescue organization, visiting the sick or elderly, feeding the homeless, or pull weeds at a community garden.  
  12. Integrate learning into everyday activities.  For example, you can teach about measurements when baking together, or allow your child to help you balance your bank account. Even a boring chore, such as food shopping, can be fun when kids are in charge of cutting coupons, making grocery lists and collecting the needed items.
If you can think of other fun ideas, resources or links, feel free to share them by commenting on this blog post.  

Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials. She is also the director of Learning to Learn, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to: www.goodsensorylearning.com, www.dyslexiamaterials.com www.learningtolearn.biz  
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