Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Handwriting Ideas for Little Learners!

When I first started teaching, handwriting was one area that I really struggled to plan lessons for.  There just didn't seem to be a way to make sitting up straight at a desk, painstakingly tracing or copying letters fun for little learners.  And of course... most of the time there isn't!  When I got my head around the concept that handwriting is based on the correct formation of letters, I began to think outside of the box and plan activities that were more than just pencil and paper!  Even though my kidlets were spending less time at their desks writing letters on a worksheet or workbook - when they did, their handwriting became much neater more quickly.  Handwriting lessons began in the first few days of the year when we were working on the basics of letter recognition, and even became something that I looked forward to planning.  

Today I'd like to share some of my favourite handwriting activity ideas - and hopefully there will be one or two that you can use with your little learners!

Whole body movement:  Lots of children remember things much more quickly when they can link their learning to physical movement.  When you are introducing letters, have your kidlets 'draw' the letter using their whole body.  If you can think of a way to link the movement to your phonics program, even better!  For example, the letter 'b' chant in the last program I used was "Bounce balloons, b, b, b."  Children would imagine they were a balloon.  To form the letter b we would stand up straight and float down to a crouch to make the top to bottom line.  Next we'd imagine that we gently bounced off the floor and around to create the round part of the letter b.  It's tricky to explain so I hope that makes some sense!  

Playdough:  Before children can correctly hold a pencil and have the stamina necessary to write for long periods of time, they need to have muscle strength and fine motor control.  Playdough is a great way to strengthen those little hand muscles and also work on letter formation.  You can set up this activity with either store bought or homemade playdough and flash cards that you already have, or you can make or buy playdough mats - laminate them and you can also use them with whiteboard markers if you like! 

Don't forget to include numbers when teaching handwriting - some mats (like the ones in this photo) combine numeral formation with counting practice. I've got some playdough mats in my store (including some in Queensland font) -  click here to check them out!  

Salt Trays:  
I love salt (or sand) trays as a sensory letter formation activity!  My first set of these were simply plastic takeaway containers filled with salt I'd dyed blue.  We'd use them with flash cards and children would use their finger to copy the letters.  These days there's all sorts of fancy ideas you can use!  At home we've been writing in coconut, pretending it's Elsa's snow!  (Our tray used to hold lacing cards from Kmart.)

You might like to try this ice cream themed tray from Modern Preschool:

Or this gorgeous fairy dust tray from The Imagination Tree:

Chalk: Grab some giant sidewalk chalk and you're all set for outdoor handwriting lessons!  All you need is a patch of concrete or brick wall.  Writing in the sunshine and fresh air is much more fun than sitting at a desk and the feeling of chalk on rough concrete adds a sensory element that lots of kidlets enjoy. 

Paintbrushes:  Now before you skip over this paragraph thinking "too messy" - you don't actually need paint to use a paintbrush!  (You can if you want to, of course!)  I like to use paintbrushes with water.  You can either have your kidlets paint their letters onto a concrete path, wall or chalkboard - or you can write first with chalk and have them paint over your letters.  This is especially helpful for little learners who need lots of help with their letter formation skills.  Use thick paintbrushes at the beginning of the year and move to thinner ones to encourage correct pencil grip as the year progresses.  If you live somewhere warm this is a great activity to do outside on a sunny day - kidlets will think it's magic when their letters painted in water disappear as they dry on the warm concrete path!

Novelty Stationery:  Scented markers, glitter pens, crayons, highlighters, rainbow pencils, whiteboard markers... instantly more fun than writing with a regular old pencil! :)

Write & Wipe:  This activity is handy because it's one that you can create once to use over and over again.  Using whiteboard markers on laminated cards is perfect for a small group task, morning fine motor work or 'Fast Finishers'.  I've got some Queensland print cards in my store - in both upper and lowercase.  Click the photo below to check them out!

Technology:  There's a few great apps around that help kidlets get the hang of correct letter formation.  Letter School is lots of fun - kidlets love the graphics and sound effects:

Eggy Alphabet is Aussie-friendly:

Of course, there will be times during the year when you will need your children to complete a worksheet or workbook page.  These 'Handwriting Workouts' are lots of fun for kidlets in the early stages of handwriting development - they combine simple tracing tasks with a handwriting warm up, work out and cool down! They're available in Queensland, Victorian or NSW print - click the pic below to check them out! :)

I hope you've found a fun idea that you can use when teaching handwriting to your little learners!  Leave me a comment if you've got a great activity to share. :)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for popping by!