Dictation & Dry Erase

Early Elementary Dictation

What does early dictation look like? Here is a current snapshot of dictation with my two youngest students.

We practice dictation 3 days a week, usually M/W/F. I work with each child to choose a sentence from a book they are reading.  They have a moment to study it, then we dictate.  The kids love using dry erase for this. I don’t know why, but it works!

Step 1:  Dictate the sentence.  After they complete their best work, I give them the book to proofread the sentence.  We talk about errors.  In the picture below (8 year old boy), we discussed the use of capital letters.


Step 2: Quick grammar lesson.  We start with “circle the nouns” and move through the parts of speech slowly, over a year or two, depending on aptitude.  The picture below is my 10 year old daughter.  She can identify all 8 parts of speech, with the exception of some tricky adverbs.  However, her handwriting skills have been slow to develop, so she is still doing very short sentences.

I keep Grammar Concept checklists for each child to remind me which concepts they might need to learn next.  I will often guide them to a sentence that suits the checklist.


If you don’t like the idea of choosing sentences from a book, I have some links to sentences on my main Dictation page.

Area & Perimeter Animals

Learning about area and/or perimeter is a lot more fun with these little guys:

The original animals are here: Животни от хартия в квадратчета  (Google Translate tells me this says, “Animals of Paper Into Squares).  It’s in Bulgarian, but the images are great and easy to use.

After doing this project on plain flimsy graph paper, I would recommend printing large-square graph paper on cardstock, like this centimeter graph paper.

For younger ones (under 7), have an adult draw the animals.  Let the kids color them, then cut out.  Exposure to the concept of a gridded drawing is ample until they are older. If they are ready, ask leading questions like, “How many squares are in the body?  How many are in the legs?”

For older kids you can do a guided drawing:

  • Draw a face that has an area of 9 cm (or that includes 9 squares, if the concept of area isn’t firm)
  • Draw ears that have a perimeter of 10 cm.
  • Draw a tail that is 1 cm by 5 cm long.

Cut out and play!

20 Ways to Draw…

The Idea

Find a drawing book to bridge the middle years (ages 9-11).

The Execution

My littlest kids (ages 5-7) have always enjoyed Ed Emberley’s drawing books.  But one by one they would grow out of these books, or simply be ready for something a little more challenging, a little more realistic.  I spent years trying to find a good drawing book for ages 9-11, or even a book with simple drawings that weren’t childish.  One day I was browsing the book section at Cass Art in London when I found it!  A whole series entitled “20 Ways to Draw….”  So far we own 20 Ways to Draw a Tree (nature subjects) and 20 Ways to Draw a Cat (animals).

Art 75 Art 77

The Extension

The realistic nature of these drawings makes them a good reference for nature journaling.  Use these drawing techniques and ideas to learn more about leaf and tree shapes, bark texture, snowflake crystals, etc.

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