Using Geoboards to Support Literacy

by Brianna Martin

Geoboards have proven helpful in teaching math skills and geometry concepts. Brianna Martin says that geoboard practice also enables first graders at Pleasant Valley Mennonite School to succeed more quickly in reading, writing, and penmanship. In this video, she demonstrates a geoboard session, and describes the way the school implements the boards in kindergarten and first grade.

Read Transcript

This is a board with pegs on it, so it’s—when a student comes they get a board with pegs and they get some rubber bands, and then they would get a paper like this.

Demonstration: You can sit here. The other can sit over here.

So, they’ll sit down and have their board and have their paper, have their pile of rubber bands, and then they will have a shape maybe something like this that they will look at, and their goal is to get their rubber bands onto here to make this shape.

For here at Pleasant Valley, all of Kindergarten goes through the geoboards, and then once they get to first grade, if they are still struggling with it or if they’re struggling in reading or penmanship, we found out that doing the geoboards helps them improve their reading skills and their writing skills, penmanship skills and all that.

Demonstration: This is the shape I want you to be putting on your boards. To begin, I have your rubber bands here for you, your bigger ones, your medium ones, and your small ones. So, begin by finding the middle dot at the top and counting down your dots, and see if you can make that shape on your board. Oh, Savannah, let’s check that one again. Count your dots down, one, two, three. That’s where you want to be.

Student: Three, four. One, two, three. One, two, three.

After they complete the shape on here, we turn the board just to switch things up a little bit, and then they have a marker and they draw that shape on their dots.

Demonstration: Good job, Sarah. Now, let’s go to the next step. We’re going to turn your board here, and now I want you to draw this shape over here on the paper. Follow the dots. Very good. When you’re ready, Savannah, you’re going to flip your board as well. Go ahead and do the same thing. Draw your shape on there. Yep, good job. Count your dots. Figure out where to start, where to go to.

At the beginning of the year, first of all we normally begin by putting stickers on a few dots to kind of make it smaller, and then they begin with smaller portion, and as the year goes on, they get to a bigger board, and then finally they have the whole thing filled and then they’re working with the whole board.

Here is a book actually entitled, Helping Children Overcome Learning Difficulties and in the back of this book, it has little pictures of what you would then form these from. So, if you’re wondering, “How am I going to go about this? How am I going to find these shapes?” in this book it has all sorts of ideas for the different shapes, so this book is very helpful coming to the geoboards. So then, you know how to create your paper with dots and then you know how to create an image for the children to copy on their boards with their rubber bands. So, if you’re looking for someplace to start, this book would be a great place.

Resources for Geoboards

Geoboard outline used on home page courtesy of Wdjat via Wikimedia Commons

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CONTRIBUTOR: Brianna Martin

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