Expo Dry Erase Board & Expo Markers

Expo Dry Erase Boards and Markers - Not all are created equal
Not exactly something you might expect to find on a blog about games and toys, but I have included them because dry erase boards and markers are occasionally included in games, I have strong opinions about dry erase boards and markers, and I use them frequently in therapy.

Believe me when I say not all dry erase boards and markers are created equal. I have tried many different ones and I keep coming back to this specific board by Expo and Expo markers. The main problem I have had with other brands is that the board often does not wipe totally clean, leaving shadows behind that cannot be removed, even with the cleaning solution. And just a tip from experience here, wipe the boards as soon as you are done working on them. Even Expo markers and boards might leave a shadow if you don't erase it for days.

I used this particular board for years and then Expo quit making it and came out with a  different, inferior product and it had the same problem as other boards. I was very disappointed until I saw this board on Amazon the other day and ordered it to see if it was "my" board, and sure enough it is. This board is plain white on one side and has writing lines on the other side. I have used many different things to erase on this board including paper towels, an old cut up towel, my hand, and dry marker erasers from other games - they all work.

The Expo brand markers come in three sizes that I know of: chisel tip, fine point, and ultra fine point. There is a small pack of markers that comes in red, blue and black. They also have large packs of multi-color markers. Color can translate to fun. The ultra fine point is closest to the width of a pencil. If you work with kids that apply a lot of pressure when they write, they will smash the tip of the ultra fine marker in no time. Here is an example of the different marker widths:

I use this board often with the Ed Emberley Drawing books (see links below) that I have blogged about. It has been my experience that kids who are working on pre-writing symbols and lines, visual perceptual skills, writing and precision with a writing tool often love drawing on white boards with colored markers. Yes, there is less feedback to the hand when you are gliding across a smooth surface with a dry erase marker, but you can still work on holding a writing tool, using a writing tool to draw controlled precise lines/rounded corners/diagonal lines, drawing simple shapes, reducing overflow, and proportion. And at the end, as the kids are admiring their handiwork, I can often slip in a little writing such as a few words or simple sentence about their picture. None have balked at that yet. 

Ed Emberley draws in very simple steps, using basic shapes, symbols and lines. Kids have been very receptive to these books and our drawing from them. Here are my favorite Ed Emberley Drawing Books:

Drawing Book of Faces by Ed Emberley  My favorite drawing book. You can also talk about emotions as you draw.

Goody Gumdrops by Ed Emberley My favorite for beginners. Each animal starts out with the exact same shape, a gumdrop.

Ed Emberley's Christmas Drawing Book -  It's all about winter and Christmas.

Ed Emberley's Fingerprint Drawing Book - Use an ink pad and start with a fingerprint shape. I have often used this book without the ink pad, just drawing the circle shapes. Ink pads tend to dry up fast on me, but some working on sensory goals may like to use them.

Ed Emberley's Great Thumbprint Drawing Book - Use an ink pad and start with a thumbprint shape.

Try this:
  • Work on diagonal lines for letters such as K, Y, X, W by drawing pictures that incorporate diagonal lines (whiskers, sharp teeth, legs, bird toes). Work on distal rotation by drawing pictures that incorporate small, colored-in circles (eyes, freckles, tassels, chicken pox). Work on rounded lines, such as needed for many lower case letters, by drawing pictures with rounded and wavy lines (ears, water, noses, hair). Sounds pretty basic, doesn't it? One big reason I like the Ed Emberley books is because I can quickly scan each picture looking for the feature(s) that I want to practice without having to make up drawing after drawing in my head. I'm not that fast or that good.
  • Be short and precise with your verbal instructions as you model. Draw only one line or shape at a time and make sure they are following your instructions to the best of their ability. Drawings may start out looking rough, but typically improve over time with practice.   
  • Model how to start and stop on a line. I often just reach over and erase overflow with my finger and they quickly get the idea.
  • Use one of the Ed Emberley books or draw a simple object. Then erase and let the individual lead as you draw along and practice drawing simple objects from memory. If he gets stuck give verbal clues before drawing it for him.
  • Use the Ed Emberley Book of faces when working on emotions. Emphasize the shapes of the eyes, eyebrows and mouth when talking about reading facial expressions.
  • Work on holding and using a writing tool, writing, drawing basic shapes and symbols, drawing objects and pictures, visual discrimination, spatial relations, visual closure, proportion, visual form constancy, visual memory, manual dexterity 
Amazon was carrying this, but I just looked and it is not available right now. Perhaps other office stores are carrying it. I saw some look-alikes, but cannot say for sure about their quality.