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  • Jennie Lou Harriman

Rainbow Hair Motivates Handwriting!


Have you ever worked with students or children who did not want to practice letters? Did they resist practicing the same letter over and over? Practice builds skill, but repetition certainly can get boring. Sometimes motivation comes from the unexpected!

The foundation of my approach to teaching is to engage learners based on who they are as individuals.

What is the problem?

Handwriting is challenging for one of my students. I want him to feel okay about handwriting, rather than dreading it.

What is one solution?

One day, this student said to me, “Ms. Jennie, I love your hair. It’s so beautiful. It would be even more beautiful if it was rainbow hair.”

We began a handwriting lesson. The goal was practicing where to place the parts of a lower case d on ruled guidelines. I use the TAGteach method to work on handwriting. TAGteach uses a clicking sound made with a handheld device that tells a student when a task has been met. On the first line in the photo below, I demonstrated the correct placement of the letter. In TAGteach, we also demonstrate the incorrect way to do a task to help learners with self-correction. After making five letters, my student started losing interest. This method also uses positive reinforcement using rewards, such as stickers, tiny chocolate chips, pennies, beads, etc. I immediately reflected back to him what he said earlier:

“Ms. Jennie, I love your hair. It’s so beautiful. It would be even more beautiful if it was rainbow hair.” I told him that by completing the goal of writing twenty ds, his reward would be that the next time I saw him I would have rainbow hair. This reluctant writer practiced way beyond twenty without any further encouragement from me!

His excitement can be seen in the quality of the handwriting

as the lines progressed. When he finished the entire dry erase board, he erased it and started again. On the second line, you can see where I demonstrated forming the d again and the effect that had as he continued.

This student excitedly counted all of the letters he wrote. I asked for twenty, but he wrote over seventy!

Now, how to make my hair rainbow colored. I did some research and decided on rainbow hair chalk. Originally I planned to color it and arrive with rainbow hair. But I decided to include the process as part of our lessons.

I integrated math into the activity by asking my student to choose a pattern for my hair color and by giving him crayons to match up to the chalk color pattern. To integrate handwriting, he then drew the rainbow pattern. Next, he transferred his pattern to my hair using the chalk.

Try it!

Sometimes learning is difficult. We all have specific ways we learn best. Do you have learners who need encouragement? What can you do to engage a learner? How far will you go to help a child learn?

I would love to hear about what you have tried and how it went. Let me know in the comments.

Have fun finding creative ways to make learning exciting!


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Jennie Harriman • artwithjennie@gmail.com • 865.617.8344