Thursday, March 13, 2014

Handwriting Wasn't Built in a Day

Every year I had students in my second and third grade classrooms who did not form their letters correctly, which makes for very messy and inefficient handwriting. It's not the worst problem to have, however, if it's something I can prevent with my own kids, I'm going to try my best. By second grade, children already know how to form their letters, so when they do it incorrectly it is nearly an impossible habit to break. I decided we would start with mastering Jack's name. Next, we will move on to the upper case letters, and finally the lower case letters of the alphabet. We started by using thick pencils/crayons to trace the letters of his name, but he lost interest in listening to me very quickly. Time to get creative! 

First we revisited this activity, where we drew his name in pudding. It was helpful to come up with a little chant to remind him where to begin. It doesn't need to be anything profound, just something that will get stuck in his head as a constant reminder. When doing the letter "J" we said, "down, down, down, down, to the ground, and then back up to the top to put the hat on". Another idea we used, given to me by my friend who teaches First Grade is sung to the tune of If You're Happy and You Know It
Where do you start the letters, at the top
Where do you start the letters, at the top
If you want to start a letter, then you better, better, better
Remember to start the letter at the top.

The next activity we did was painting the letters with cotton balls. I wrote his name in pencil and then he traced over them with the cotton ball dipped in paint. 

Then, we did the same thing but used cotton swabs this time. It can be helpful to make a little dot where each letter should start so he knows where to begin. 

Finally, we used our dot painters to dot our way around the letters, again making sure to begin each letter in the right place. 

We've got a lot more work to do, but I am already seeing big improvements. It was especially a struggle getting him to draw the circle of the "a" in the correct direction, but he is getting the hang of it! 

We did each of these activities on different days and they are BRIEF! It is important to keep it fun so that it doesn't become boring or frustrating from the beginning. 

*A few more ideas to get some extra practice in here and there: 
*Draw letters in the snow
*Write on a chalkboard with a wet cotton swab or a paint brush
*Paint letters using watercolors
*Trace the letters using a car to "drive" over the letters
*Put stickers on the letters in the same direction you would write them
*Write them in shaving cream using your finger
*Trace them in the air using a "magic spelling wand"
*Write letters on the driveway with sidewalk chalk
*Use bathtub paint to write letters in the tub
*Write letters with glue and cover with glitter

Do you have any other ideas to share with me?

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