The "Write" stuff

>> Tuesday, August 5, 2008


We have been working with J & Z for a while now on developing their writing skills. The boys love to color and create drawings as well as pointing out letters and shapes and numbers; so I thought it was time to introduce some handwriting skills. I recently stumbled upon a wipeoff whiteboard for toddlers that has a page for number, letters, shapes and doddles (found it at Aldi). It has been wonderful! J & Z both have one and they spend quite a bit of time at the table following the lines of the shapes and letters, and numbers. Its so neat to watch! I see the sense of accomplishment as they yell at me to come and see what a good job they did following the lines. Their smiles are so big as they point to the letter K that they worked so long on. Then the thrill of wiping the board off and trying it again. In my quest to teach the boys some handwriting skills, I grabbed a bunch of good ideas from various websites. With most of these, the goal is to strengthen fine motor skills – the ones that are responsible for holding and guiding a pencil along a straight line. The boys are really liking the activities (especially the messes they get to make-ha!). Hope you and your little one enjoy it too.

1. Give your child strips of paper and let him cut up into confetti. This makes a huge mess, but who cares.....! To help teach your child where to hold the scissors, make a smiley face on the upper hole of the scissors where the thumb should go (though my boys picked it up pretty quickly). Start with shorter pieces of paper that he can cut with just one snip. Progress to longer pieces which need two snips of the scissor, and so on. Use blunt ended scissors and right now you can find them anywhere with the school supply sales. Since J has conquered the straight strips of paper, we've moved on to snipping along a line on the paper. I draw squiggly lines, straight lines, circles and have even let him cut around a picture.

2. Rip newspapers. This may seem like a boring task, but you’d be surprised at how much they enjoy it. Terrific for fine muscular development. Start with random ripping into small bits, then move to ripping on a line that you’ve drawn on the paper. For advanced practice, let him rip around a picture. Draw squiggly lines, and let him rip though them.

(Part of the problem with writing for most preschoolers comes with holding the pencil correctly. Z makes a fist around the marker/pencil, while J is slipping the marker/pencil between his pointer and middle finger and then eventually moving back to fisting it again)
3. To help with teaching on how to correctly hold a pencil, place a piece of sponge in his palm, and let him close his ring finger and little finger around it. Now, let him use only the thumb, forefinger and middle finger to hold the pencil. Having to hold the piece of sponge with the last two fingers will make him hold the pencil tightly with the first three OR cut out three holes in a sock, and let him insert his thumb, forefinger and middle finger in each hole before he attempts to practice writing. Again, this helps to reinforce the right way to hold a pencil. J seems to be picking up on this but I'm not forcing it. All these ideas for meant for introduction and fun for our little ones. Keep that in mind when they move on to a different activity.

4. Give him beads, or cheerios, or pasta shapes, and some string to thread. (For those of us in MI- Crafts2000 has great little beads that I bought for cheap and then I just purchased some bright fun looking yarn that the boys helped me pick out)

5. Use lacing cards, or make some of your own by punching holes in cards – use old greeting cards or printed pictures and pick up some self lamanting sheets in the office supply isle at your local walmart. A shoe string works perfect (and they are super cheap!) to lace the cards. This is a WONDERFUL quiet activity for church, doctor office, etc. I like it too as it doubles as a teaching activity for early sewing too. Thats right....my boys will know how to sew.

6. Use thin crayons or chalk pieces for practice for beginners – they are easier to hold.
7. Let him connect dots on paper. Use lined handwriting paper, and make two dots that will help him make vertical, horizontal and slanting lines. Have many such lines of dots for him to connect. This helps him draw straight lines for alphabet writing. You can also find some neat dot-2-dot pages online that you can print off for the kiddos.

8. Let him trace the outlines of figures and drawings with crayons.
9. Work on developing those minute finger muscles by giving them some play dough, and letting them make small balls or sausage shapes out of them, using thumb and forefinger only . You all know I love me some playdough and so do the boys. Hey, you could even make some "playdough cookies".
10. Use tweezers for sorting activities. Let him pick up a bean or a pea with a pair of tweezers, and transfer into another bowl.

11. Do spooning activities. Allow him to spoon dried beans from one bowl to another using his thumb, forefinger and middle finger to grasp the spoon and transfer the beans.

So my question to you is do you have any more tricks to get your preschooler writing confidently? The more the better!!!

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