Today I wanted to talk a little bit about why I use one of those items--dot markers--in therapy sessions, and what skills they help promote!
1. Fine Motor Development:
Especially in an early childhood setting, there is a lot of collaboration between service providers, and we are always trying to promote our students' development and generalization of skills across people and settings. Using dot markers is an easy way for me to work on development of early grasp patterns with those kiddos who are still pronating (wrist turned so that their thumb is down while they're holding their writing/drawing utensil). I just give them a cue of "thumbs up!" and most of them can remember to turn their wrist. From there, I can help facilitate moving from a fisted grasp pattern to holding it more with their fingertips (OTs, aren't you impressed with what I've picked up from listening to you guys in IEP meetings? Ha) Side note: Teacher and OT friends, you're on your own, though, with scissors. Teaching preschoolers to wield scissors is terrifying and I'm leaving that work to you ;-))
2. 1 to 1 Correspondence:
As I mentioned earlier, all of us service providers are working towards helping our students master and generalize skills. 1 to 1 correspondence is an early math skill I can help facilitate for the classroom teacher. When I'm using dot markers, we can work on counting each dot as we stamp it, because I always have them stamp more than one on each turn!
3. It's a quick reinforcer:
Some of my students need an immediate reinforcer to stay on task or to stay motivated. When they enjoy dot markers (and I've yet to meet a preschooler who doesn't), their reward is immediate-- Practice 5 artic words, stamp 5 dots. Easy peasy! It also keeps them busy when their partner is practicing their targets, as well.
Sometimes I feel like there's so much push for our little guys to master all of these academic skills at an early age, that creativity and learning through play can get left in the dust. With all of the academic demands expected to be met in the classrooms, there is often limited time for art and play, and general creativity. With dot markers, some of my kids like to switch colors throughout their picture or make patterns by alternating colors. It's just a little thing I can let them do to foster some of their creativity, but every little bit helps! :)
5. They have a clear ending:
Dot marker pages are an activity that have a clear ending. It's a visual that lets my students see how much of that activity is left before we move on to something new or before they go back to class. When they see that 3/4 of the dots are left, they know we still have a bit before our session is over. When they see that they only have 5 more dots left, they can figure out that they've just about completed their work. It's a visual reference of what they are working towards (ie peacin' out of speech and getting back to their friends-- ha! Just kidding (kind of. for some of them.))
I love dot markers and include them in a lot of my TpT creations! You can find dot marker pages in my Apple Speech & Language pack, Print & Go Phonology series, Community Helpers Mega Pack, and my Spring Print & Go Pack,
For some freebie dot marker pages with an apple theme for Fall, Back to School, or a Nutrition unit, check our this free sample of my larger Apple Speech/Language pack here. You can also find a lot of dot marker pages (or magnet pages, as they are called on this site) by theme at Making Learning Fun.
Are there any other go-to resources you love for dot markers? I'd love to see them!