Does letter formation conjure up sheets and sheets and sheets of tracing over letters, following the lines, practise, practise, practise?
There are hundreds of different ways to help children learn how to form the letters of the alphabet, including the one above:(
Well, let’s crank this up and make it fun.
One of the best things about ‘writing practice’ is that it can be combined with so many other learning areas, especially art and craft.
I’ve written some ideas below to help keep ‘handwriting depression’ at bay.
I’m sure there are many more and I’d love hear about them.
Drawing letters in the air. Use big movements to make the letters in the air. Make the movements and the letters smaller. This activity also helps with gross motor skills. Remember though, if you are helping your child, facing them and making the letters, you have to reverse the shape. Otherwise you’ll have children who can produce perfect mirror writing, which is a feat in itself, but not conducive to easy reading.
Drawing letters in the sand, salt, sugar etc. The letters can be huge or tiny. Feeling the textures can encourage great vocabulary as well as lovely letters.
Bekow is a sand tray product from Amazon which makes this activity nice and tidy. It’s not absolutely necessary but good fun and very tactile.
Click the link for more details and other handwriting resources from Amazon.
[easyazon_link identifier=”B00L84VBS2″ locale=”US” tag=”theleavoy01-20″]Sand Tray [/easyazon_link]
Using a whole variety of objects to make huge letters on the ground. Try wooden bricks, toys, pots and pans, spoons etc. You can walk around the letter and make the sound at the same time.
Try using fabric to make different size letters. Comparison vocabulary can be learnt at the same time. For example, ask questions like ‘Can you make a ‘b’ smaller/bigger than this one?’ Which one is the smallest/biggest? etc.
Make the letters out of salt dough, clay, plasticine etc. The salt dough and clay can be painted and decorated to use as a resource. Brooke, aged 6 made the dough out of water, flour and some food colouring before she molded the letters.
Okay, this one isn’t particularly interesting but if you trace over letters and use different colour pencils, pens, crayons etc so you produce something that is, at least, pretty!
Actually, this one could be pretty tedious as well. Tracing your finger over the letter. There are sandpaper letters to make this slightly more interesting although I expect they could easily be made, if you have the time, patience and motivation. The sandpaper letters can be used as a game using a blindfold and tracing the shape of the letter – What letter is this one?
[easyazon_link identifier=”B002LHF1F4″ locale=”US” tag=”theleavoy01-20″]Tactile Sandpaper Lowercase Letters[/easyazon_link]
Use a selection of magnetic letters on the fridge or magnetic board and play ‘find the letter’ or ‘find the sound’. I wouldn’t recommend putting all 26 letters up in the beginning as it can look fussy to a young child and you may not have a big enough fridge! I would start with 4 to 6 letters and add 1 more at intervals. There are loads of different types of magnetic letters. I would recommend using lower case letters to start. The ones below are from Amazon and are good value as they have four complete alphabet sets. For more information, click on the link below.
[easyazon_link identifier=”B0035EQDX6″ locale=”US” tag=”theleavoy01-20″] Magnetic Learning Letters [/easyazon_link]
Have you ever tried using puffy paint? It is available to buy in pots but is easy to make. Here are a couple of recipes. I’m not sure about the shaving cream but give them a go to see which one you prefer.
Mix together about a cup of flour 2 tablespoons of baking powder and 2 tablespoons of salt.
Add some water a little bit at a time until you have a thick gloopy mixture.
Add some drops of whatever food colouring you choose. Mix well.
Now you can paint with a paint brush or put the mixture into a squeezy bottle and squeeze out pictures on your paper (I find something thicker than paper is better though, even the board from an old cardboard box would be good.
Pop your picture in the microwave for approximately 30 seconds but keep an eye on it.
And there you have a puffy painting.
Use an equal amount of shaving cream and white glue.
Mix together adding food colouring for colours other than white
Use paint and a wide variety of applicators, including fingers and feet. There is nothing quite like getting messy with paint. Don’t just use paint brushes, at least not the normal children’s ones. Try a huge pasting brush and paint the letters on the back of wallpaper. Let your imagination run wild and use some fun and exciting things to paint the letters.
Cornflour is magical stuff. If you mix it with water in a tray (it should be reasonably thick) the letters can be made by dragging your finger through the mixture. The magical thing about cornflour is that it changes consistency when you pick it up. Go on, try it!
Lego can be used to make the letter shapes. Colours can also be learnt during this activity. Try using the bricks to make letters by pushing into salt dough. They make a lovely tactile resource.
Brooke had a go at this on her own and here are a couple of her letters.
Use cut-out letters and decorate them with a tremendous amount of glue and glitter. I love doing this but then I’m a glitter sort of girl!
I’m dreadful in the kitchen but I can manage to make alphabet biscuits. They may not always be pleasant to eat but the shapes are good. We always make the shapes ourselves rather than using a cookie cutter shape but that’s because I haven’t got any.
One I just thought of. How about making the letter shapes with sweets. It’s not very long lasting but a good end to the activity. These are made with Parma Violets, one of my childhood favs. Their colour hasn’t come out on the picture How about marshmallows though for some big letters, mmmm
I love handwriting and use my very old and worn fountain pen every day. I think handwriting shouldn’t go out of fashion but with this technological age who knows if it will become a thing of the past. I hope not.
Do you think handwriting will become obsolete?
How important do you think it is to be able to write legibly?