One of the most important parts of our mission here at The Inspired Treehouse is inspiring children to move! And as therapists, we know that there is a very strong connection between movement and learning.
Laurie Gombash, a fellow pediatric PT, has taken this concept and developed a product that is perfect for kinesthetic learners (those who learn best through movement!). After having dinner with her this summer, we were excited to receive a package in the mail that contained her ABC’s of Movement — a pack of durable activity cards that encourage movement to reinforce early literacy skills.
Each of the cards corresponds to one of the 26 letters of the alphabet and contains:
-a prompt to trace the letter in the air
-a gross motor movement to go with the letter
-modifications for those who are unable to do the activity
-child development benefits of the gross motor movement
Awesome, right? These cards target a huge array of developmental skills and are perfect for any age. We have been using them in our therapy practice and we thought it would be fun to highlight a few of the activities that we have done with each age group using the ABC’s of Movement cards.
Preschoolers are just beginning to learn letters and letter sounds. At the same time, they are really developing their fine and gross motor skills.
The 3, 4, and 5 year olds love to use these cards just as they were intended. I have them take turns picking a card and then I demonstrate the movement for them before letting them try for themselves!
They have a blast walking like an Ostrich, waddling like a Penguin, and Hopping on one foot. Together we say the rhymes and alliterations and then we practice drawing the letter on a vertical surface, such as a mirror covered in shaving cream, so they get the visual and tactile feedback as well. SO. MUCH. FUN!
Kindergarteners and first graders already have a pretty good grasp on letter identification but they are learning to spell short words and are hitting those letter sounds hard!
We love to think of short, 3-letter words for them to spell by arranging the cards and then writing the word in the air. By the way, writing letters in the air is awesome for body awareness, midline crossing, and shoulder strengthening and stability.
After they write the words and say the rhymes and alliterations, it’s time to get moving! At this age, we are working on motor planning and sequencing of multiple motor skills together. I have them look at the small word that they spelled and try to do each move in the right order.
For example, let’s look at the word OWL. I would challenge the kids to sequence the movements below in the right order to spell the word:
O = Ostrich Walk (5x)
W = Walrus Walk (5x)
L = Line walk heel to toe (5 steps)
Kids love to come up with the words and then see the “dance” they create with the group of movements.
As children get older, we are typically working less on developing motor skills and more on refining them or processing directions to complete them. For this set of kiddos, I use the ABC’s of Movement Cards almost the same way as for the early elementary child.
I still have them spell out a word but, in this case, I may ask them to come up with a longer word. We will trace the letters in the air, and try to repeat the rhymes and alliterations from memory after I have said them.
For the movement activity, I like to make it a memory challenge. I have them arrange the cards in the right order to spell their word and then we say the actions that go with the word.
I then take the cards and mix them up. I pick a card, say the letter, and then ask the kids to perform the movement on their way over to a chalkboard or large piece of paper where I have drawn a line for each letter of the word. They have to write the letter in the corresponding space to spell their word. We continue until they have written the entire word.
The ABC’s of Movement Cards have become a favorite tool for movement and learning during my therapy sessions. The kids are really motivated by the pictures of the children completing the movements. And all of the creative ways that the cards can be used keep the kids interested and engaged.
Teachers, this would be a perfect tool for you to address literacy skills in your classroom and to see how much better your students learn and retain letters and letter sounds when they’re paired with movement! The cards would also be perfect for movement breaks in the classroom throughout the day!