April 27, 2011

Fly Swatter as Educational Tool

My son Cowen is a kinesthetic learner. In plain English that means Cowen is a boy and therefore CANNOT HOLD STILL TO SAVE HIS LIFE.

I have such fond memories of Miriam curled next to my side, soaking in the reading lessons, happy to be with Mom and more than willing to actually look at the words on the page.

Not so with my son. He cannot hold still long enough to look at more than one letter of a word, and so he makes wild guesses at what a word says based on the first letter. Or, if glancing at the word is too much trouble, he just guesses without referring to the text at all. While the guessing and glancing is going on, he's also busy sliding off the couch, turning upside down, making strange noises, and flailing his limbs about in boy abandon.

I've reduced reading time to three measly pages a day. It is all I can handle.

However, a university student of mine told me about a great idea she got from watching a kindergarten teacher that I now use with my son (did you follow that?). The kindergarten teacher gave her students fly swatters and had the students hit things.


Imagine my son's utter happiness when I handed him a fly swatter and told him to whack the letter that makes a "sssssss" sound.

He gives himself extra points if he makes any letters fly off the table from whacking so hard.

We've used the fly swatter idea for a variety of activities. We started with hitting the correct lower-case letter (he is a lot stronger with upper-case than lower-case). He's also whacked the letters that make certain sounds. It can also be used for sight words.
He loves it.

Don't imagine that he actually stays standing on that one chair. No, no. He stands on one chair, hits something with the swatter, jumps to the next chair, crawls around to the bench, jumps to the ground to get the letters that have flown to the floor, does a few kicks and scrambles around, and then winds up on the first chair again.

It drives my hubby bananas to watch it.

Most days I think Cowen is hilarious.

Other days, I wish he'd snuggle next to me and hold still for a few minutes.

But mostly I think he his hilarious.

PS--Another good trick for kinesthetic learners is to focus on writing. My son enjoys writing because it involves movement. He loves to make up sentences that he thinks are funny, like: "My Dad sat on a cactus." If you put that sentence on a paper and tried to get him to read it he'd act like it was written in Chinese. However, he has no problem writing it.

Another good idea is have your kinesthetic learner spell out words with letters spread over a table or the floor. The more he/she has to move to get to the letters the better. So spread out the letters and then say, "Write the sentence: Mom is fun." The learner finds the letters he/she needs and puts together the sentence. Works like a charm because there is no holding still involved.

If you have a kinesthetic learner at home--good luck!! We need it. :)


  1. hah. luke must be a kinesthetic learner as well. and the writing thing - totally get that. luke leaves me notes all the time. my favorite from a few months ago before he was really starting to care about spelling is this, "mom, im kriing bekus u turn off my spungbob and that maks me sad." i get lots of lots of notes. he even likes to write me a letter in the morning requesting what food he thinks i should make for the day. love him soooo much.

  2. What a great idea! My 7 yr old son would love it! He currently sits down, does one assignment and I know he is done when I hear or see him jumping around the living room, making all kinds of crazy noises, like boys do. So funny! He does not love writing, however, so I should try your suggestion. I have done it with sight words, but letting him make up the sentences instead of dictating them. I will have to try that!

  3. We are huge fans of fly swatters and water balloons here. It worked for my oldest and now my youngest. Anything to work with the wiggles instead of against them!