Letters of Clay Exercise
Some children become confused in their ability to differentiate between letters of the alphabet. The most common letters to cause confusion are b, d, p, q, s, z and the numbers 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 9. They may write them backwards or interchange a letter for another. In a child's development, letter confusion is a normal phenomenon. Most children will outgrow their confusion by the end of the first grade. Some of them will not. This exercise can be used on children learning their letters and it can be used as a remedial exercise for children who have not grown out of letter confusion by the end of the first grade. It can also be used on children who are confused before they finish the first grade.
The exercise is very simple and involves the use of modeling clay. Any type of clay or dough will work. It only takes a few minutes to do only the letters/numbers that the child gets confused or it can be expanded to do the entire alphabet and numbers from 0 to 9. The activity should be relatively fun.
Step by Step Instructions.
1. Set out the alphabet line (the alphabet line should have capital as well as small letters) and the number line so the child can easily see it and touch it.
2. List or know the letters and numbers that the child has the most confusion about.
3. Have the participant mold out of clay that letter or number.
4. Explain to the child that it is the position of the letter that makes it identifiable as the right letter or number. Have them place their letter near the letter on the alphabet line. Have them take the letter and position it the wrong way and notice how it no longer becomes that letter or number as demonstrated by the alphabet line or number line.
5. If the letter is a b, flip it and show that now it is a d. Show on the letter line how it is the same as the letter d. Now flip the d so that it looks like a p. Show on the letter line how it is the same as the letter p. Flip it again so that it looks similar to a q and place it near the letter q.
6. Let the child practice flipping the letter and placing it near the appropriate letters on the alphabet line.
7. Ask the child to come up with a method that will help them remember which way to postion the letter so that it is always a b and not a d or p or q. The child might not get it on their own, or they may. It would be better if they were able to get it on their own (e.g., some use a clock and say that you draw a b starting at 12:00 and a d starting at 3:00, but this might be equally confusing to the participant).
8. Have the child practice writing that letter. Write it several times by itself on paper and then in words (e.g., boy, bat, ball).
9. Have the child practice writing a similar letter (e.g., d), first by itself and then with words (e.g., dog, daisy, done, dinner).
10. Do this exercise every day. After mastery, do it every time the child shows confusion about the letter or number. It could take up to 30 times before the child finally grasps the concept that it is the position of the letter or number that makes it the correct letter or number. It may take up to several attempt before the child has their own special way of remembering the correct position of the letters or numbers
Exercise: Letters of Clay Exercise.
Time: Time: about 10 to 20 minutes depending on how many letters and numbers the child is confused about.
Recommended Frequency: once a day, 5 or 6 days per week until confusion is gone.
Pretest Assessment: participant writes letters and/or numbers incorrectly (backwards).
Materials Needed. Modeling clay or dough. A chart or line of the entire alphabet (large and small letters) and a number line from 0 to 9.
Mastery. participant no longer gets confused about letters or numbers. Child is consistent in when writing all the letters of the alphabet and/or numbers in the correct position.
Additional comments: This game can be modified for words the child gets confused over. For example, saw for was. The child can make letters from clay to form each word and tell the definition of the words made.
Many of these children think in images. When they think of the word house, they get an image of an house. Some words do not have automatic images (e.g., and, the, for, was) and thus create much confusion for these children. Clay can be used by the participant to make an image for each word that the child gets confused about. You can check for mastery by having the child use the clay in the same way for each word that has no picture or image. If the child has created their own image, they will be consistent in the clay figure that they make for that word from one day to the next. The child will also be able to see the word in the context of a new sentence and be able to read the word without hesitation and be able to grasp it's meaning in relationship to the other words in the sentence.
More information and additional instruction about these techniques can be found in the book: The Gift of Dyslexia by Ron Davis, ISBN: 0399535667.
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