Spelling with Clay

Kinesthetic spelling activities are helpful for my dyslexic son.  In this exercise, he formed each letter in the spelling word out of clay.  He likes using a different color for each letter.  He also formed a representation of the word’s meaning out of clay.  This is an important step for dyslexics, who think in pictures.

When he was done spelling this word and making a little fire to go with it, he took a picture of it in his mind.  He likes to actually put his hand up near his face and make a clicking sound, as if he had a real camera.  Later, when he needs to spell the word, he can recall the picture he took in his mind.

This method has been helpful for him, particularly with those little amorphous words that are difficult to attach a meaning to.  Dyslexics often struggle with words like “the”, “a”, “of”, “and”, and a host of others.  The very act of spelling out those little words in clay, and building something to represent them, has been of great value.

For example, to represent the word “and” he might build two people.  It doesn’t really matter what he chooses to create to go along with the word, as long as it represents the word to him in a picture form.  This technique has been effective in helping him with both reading and spelling those troublesome little words.

My preschooler and emerging reader love this activity, too, by the way!  My 7 year old absolutely loves making alphabets and words out of clay. He enjoys this spelling exercise just as much as his brother does. He is not dyslexic, but it is a fun hands-on activity for him. And my preschooler??  Well, he just loves mashing it around.

I came across this idea in the wonderful book The Gift of Dyslexia by Ronald Davis.  If you have a dyslexic in your family (or suspect you might), I highly recommend this book.


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