A little history: Almost two decades ago, educators introduced a technique to help students organize thought. At the time, this process was called “building a web,” or “webbing.” The purposes were to help prepare writers in organizing proposed story content, to increase reading comprehension from a story already read, and to increase the flow of ideas during brainstorming sessions. New research indicates that this technique may have dramatic implications for the preschool child.
How to build a web: In short, the technique begins with a blank piece of paper upon which a shape is drawn. For illustration purposes, we are using circles/ovals here.
The main topic is then written in the circle. Extending out from the center, lines are drawn which link secondary facts or ideas, which may also be in circles. The web then extends as words and ideas are added. The result is a visual or graphic representation of the story or project. For example, below are two webs from the Texas Education Agency. The first is about a child’s favorite places and the second is about the contents of a child’s room.
Research: Studies confirm that this same technique – referred to now as “mind mapping” – increases memory and organization of thought. What’s more, research shows that this technique works well when used with pictures instead of text. For the preschooler who is developing neural pathways at a rapid rate, this technique is ideal.
To experiment with this process, accompany your child to his room. Ask him what he sees, as you build a visual mind map about your child’s surroundings. Depending upon your child’s age, you may want to ask what an item feels like and link the word to the illustration (bear … “fuzzy”).
If your child is young, have him color your artwork. If your child is 4 or older, he may want to draw his own mind map.
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