Heart of Dakota Blog

Do your children visualize words on their “mental blackboards”?

White surface with a border of miniature red hearts on top and bottom. In the middle, black text reads: "Do your children visualize words on their mental blackboards?"
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Teaching Tip:

Do you have a child working on spelling or studied dictation?

Is your child working through the spelling lists in Beyond or Bigger Hearts? Or, is your child working through the studied dictation passages in the guides that come next? Either way, today’s teaching tip is for you!

Visualizing words on a mental blackboard is one key Charlotte Mason skill for spelling.

One of the skills we are working toward is for the child to be able to visualize words on his/her mental blackboard. Capturing the correct spelling of a word is much easier if the word really stands out in a way that the mind can quickly “capture.”

Using a black marker on a white surface helps the mind “capture” the word.

Whenever you have to write a word for your child to visualize, it is good to use a black marker on a white surface. This can be a black marker on a white index card like the spelling cards for Beyond or Bigger Hearts. Or, the same technique works for words you may desire your child to focus on within the dictation passages. These words can be written on a whiteboard with a black marker for the child to study prior to having the passage dictated.

Tracing difficult words using a black pencil on a white page helps students “capture” the word too.

Another technique that works is to have the child trace any difficult words within the dictation passage using his/her black pencil. Having the words outlined in black on the white page helps kiddos mentally “capture” the word too! Try these tips and see if they help your child with spelling and dictation. I know these tips have helped mine!


This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Suanna

    This is an interesting concept. Why black and not another color? I use black or dark brown for anything that is more than one or two lines on my white board, but often use a “fun” color for something short or a few words.

    1. Good question! I like using fun marker colors too! When it comes to spelling though, black against white is the starkest contrast, and thus more easily pictured after the model is taken away. Just like an optometrist uses black and white when testing eyesight, we can use black and white to help our children visualize the spelling of words better. Many phonics programs, as well as phonics-controlled beginning readers like the BOB books, utilize this black on white concept for this very reason. Thanks for asking!

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