Hi! This is the third post in my handwriting made easy series. I hope you have been learning and enjoying from the posts so far! Little kids have so very many days of school head of them, so I think it is super important to keep the idea of learning as fun as possible while also setting up a great foundation for future success.
Up until now, I have only discussed activities that can help make those little fingers stronger and encourage the correct pincher grasp. Today I would like to share some of my favorite ways to encourage fun, correct letter formation.
Of course, eventually little ones will need to make letters with a pencil and paper (and I will also share some great techniques for that, too), but let's first start with other letter formation methods to really teach the shapes and get kids thinking about lines.
One of the most fun ways is...
I love shaving cream for so many different reasons. First, it is just so very fun. It's squishy and kinda messy and feels a little bit like finger painting.
At that same time as being kinda messy, it is also clean because in reality it is soap. So, it smells good and can actually help in the never ending battle of germs.
Also, it is so very god in helping kids with sensory issues work through some of their issues, while not being super gross. You can even make a very thin layer and pre-spread it out for those kids so they can just do a one finger touch.
Writing in shaving cream is definitely an activity that parents can do with their kids at home. You can get it anywhere, and you only need s small pan or tray to do it on - plus a small towel to wipe hands on if you don't want to use a sink right away.
Cannot recommend shaving cream for writing practice enough.
Another great method for learning letter formation is by using other line-forming items to make letter shapes. There is an endless amount of ideas for objects you can use to do this.
We have some wood pieces we like to use in the classroom, but really just about anything will work. Some easy items you may have around the house are string, spaghetti, sticks from outside, and pipe cleaners.
The idea is to keep it fun and simple while also teaching kids that curves, lines, and diagonals are what make letter shapes.
You can also use playdough "worms" for this. Rolling out long playdough pieces is also a great way to sneak in a little more hand strengthening, too!
Another great activity is by using small items to overlay on a number or letter to form the shape.
At home, you can simply do this on a piece of paper with any small items you have around that are fun. In the classroom, we like to use a piece of felt.
Little craft items or small toys are perfect for putting on top of the outline to form the letter or number. The goal is to keep it fun!
One more idea that works well before you move to making letters on paper, if to use a small chalkboard or whiteboard. For beginners, you can form the letter in one color, and the child can trace over it in another one.
As children get a little more advanced, you can form the letter along side them on your own chalkboard or whiteboard, or even a piece of paper if necessary, and have the child try to copy you. Be sure to go slow and explain what you are doing!
In class, I really enjoy using small chalkboards and little pieces of chalk as it also helps kids develop more good fine motor skills. They must use some hand strength to make chalk marks on the board dark enough to see, and the tiny pieces of chalk discourage a fist grip and encourage a pincher grasp.
And, finally, last but not least, when a child begins writing letters on a paper, I would encourage using a small pencil like those little golf ones. A smaller size pencil is easier for a child to control, and so they are more likely to hold it correctly.
I also like them to begin with tracing the letter over a fully written one in light gray, or even a highlighter if you are doing this at home. Connecting dots can be more confusing for kids, and the goal is to keep it simple so the child is successful and confident in the beginning.
Larger size letters about 2 inches are great to begin with, and they only need to do about 4 on a page at a time to start. Better to quit before the child is burned out of the writing activity!
Beginning with capitals is best since lowercase letters can drop below the line, reach above the line, and are just generally more challenging to form.
Of course, when a child is learning to make their name, I would not follow this rule. It is best to have a child learn to form their name with a capital in the beginning, and then all lowercase. I find that re-teaching them this way after they have learned to make their name in all-caps can be quite challenging, so I would recommend skipping that approach.
Above all else, consistency and keeping it fun are the very most important aspects of teaching a little one handwriting!
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