Links and Resources:
- National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC): What is School Readiness?
- The Week: How writing by hand makes kids smarter
- Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience: Learning Through Hand- or Typewriting Influences Visual Recognition of New Graphic Shapes: Behavioral and Functional Imaging Evidence”
- Wall Street Journal: How Handwriting Boosts the Brain
- New York Times: You type. I type. Why bother with handwriting?
- Papernalia: Handwriting In America: A Cultural History
- School Sparks: Early Childhood Development of Fine Motor
- Harvard Education Letter: Schools Haven’t Changed; Kindergarten Has
“Play is the only way the highest intelligence of humankind can unfold.” —Joseph Chilton Pearce
“An innovative app designed to help develop the pincer grasp skill and is also helpful for preparing for cursive writing. Pay close attention to this one.” —Heather Hetler, elementary school speech-language pathologist
Our games allow young learners to connect with big educational concepts from an early age. With Chalk Walk, Mrs. Judd worked with the KBooM! design team to encourage school readiness in the areas of fine-motor flexibility, literacy and early mapping skills.
Chalk Walk takes the familiar and fun activity of drawing with sidewalk chalk and translates it to a game that encourages school readiness. The pincer grip helps prepare a child’s hand muscles for real-world learning tasks at school, while also reinforcing emerging literacy skills. The final stage, Silly Town, reinforces and encourages a child’s innate need for scribbling and imaginative play.
Here, we provide three real-world examples of why we chose this game as a teaching moment:
- Sharpens Fine-Motor Skills To Improve School Readiness: Like our colleagues at the National Association for the Education of Young Children, we believe all children develop differently and should have access to resources that help them prepare effectively for kindergarten. Fine-motor skills are essential to the pencil-and-paper tasks of school. Many children today are spending less time coloring with crayons or chalk. As a teacher I found that in recent years more students were entering my classroom with these skills and muscles underdeveloped. We designed Chalk Walk to include the “pincer-grip action” to help with this issue.
- Handwriting Development Boosts Brain Function and Literacy: There have been countless studies that link the process of writing by hand to improved brain function. A recent Wall Street Journal article highlights how researchers have used magnetic resonance imaging to show how the practice of handwriting improves the formulation of ideas, recognition of letters and shapes and fine-motor skills. At the University of Washington, Virginia Berninger tested students in grades 2, 4 and 6 and found that students who wrote essays by hand not only wrote faster than their typing counterparts, but were able to come up with more ideas. A 2008 study from the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience shows a link between handwriting and new alphabet or character recognition in adults. And a study from Indiana University shows how pre-school age children who practiced printing letters by hand and then saying them out loud demonstrated stronger literacy skills. This important connection between handwriting and processing was factored into Chalk Walk’s design, where young players use their pincer grip to follow the same angles, twists and turns needed in handwriting.
- Encourages a Child’s Need to Scribble: Creative play is essential in developing a child’s brain functions and encouraging critical thinking later on. Children are naturally inclined to scribbling and doodling their own designs. Students need to develop both convergent thinking skills and divergent thinking skills. Although quite a big of Chalk Walk offers clear paths to follow in a convergent manner, we also wanted our game to encourage young minds to create paths of their own in a divergent fashion. In keeping with our belief in self-directed learning, we offer children a fun map full of fanciful towns to explore such as “Kitty City” or “Crown Town”. But the map ends at “Silly Town,” where children can scribble and create doodles however they wish. When desired, players can reset the game-play and begin their map anew, but we hope many will stay awhile in “Silly Town” and be creative in their fine motor practice and forms of self-expression.