As we learn about letters, we are also practicing some early writing skills. Here are some easy activities we have been doing over the past few weeks:
ColoringM was never a huge fan of coloring books or crayons in general. She isn't the kind of kid who will just pick up a marker and decide to draw a picture. We have tried to find ways to incorporate coloring (learning to hold a writing implement properly, drawing different types of lines - straight/curved, etc.) into games we play.
We volunteer at a local middle school to help with their robotics team, and the teacher who runs the club gave M this awesome Cardboard Play Castle that she loves! We set it up in her playroom and spent several days coloring the inside and outside of the castle, writing letters and numbers in the "bricks," and coloring patterns around the windows and doors.
We played an I Spy game with M's set of sandpaper letters (I showed her a letter, and she tried to find it on the castle). She would trace the sandpaper letter with her fingers, then trace the letter on the castle when she found it. We named the letters and said their sound when she found them. Of course we played knights and princesses too!
WritingI am trying to encourage M to "write" as often as possible. Most often her writing doesn't exactly look like writing - like the image below - but she's trying! I have also tried to write things out by hand (rather than typing on the computer or making virtual lists on my phone) so she can see me writing. The picture below was a list of ingredients to put in a smoothie I ordered at her pretend restaurant.
Building LettersThere are lots of different materials you can use to sculpt letters - play-doh, pipe cleaners, spaghetti, etc. We took some of our leftover homemade play-doh and used it to make letters. I started by writing a word on a small dry-erase board in large letters, then showed M how to "trace" the letter with rolled out pieces of play-doh. We also used her Fun Factory Extruder to make long strands of play-doh that she could turn into different letter shapes.
Shapes, Connect-the-dots, and MazesFine motor activities in general are great for preparing to write. M has shown a lot of interest in tracing lately, so I found some dry-erase books with shapes, connect-the-dots, and mazes for her to practice drawing different kinds of straight and curved lines.
Stamping LettersWe love our Lakeshore Learning magic board and we love magnetic letters, so an activity that combines both must be great! I was remembering back to my childhood days of playing with a magnadoodle that came with the magnet shape stampers. Those stampers are nothing more than magnets, so surely any magnet would do the same thing, right? I grabbed the magnetic letters off the fridge and showed M how she could use them as stamps on her board! As a bonus, we could now write words that contain two or more of the same letter (an issue I've always had trying to write words on the fridge since we have just one of each letter).
As a bonus, she even tried tracing some of the magnets on the board.
TracingI'm not usually a big fan of workbooks or worksheets in general, but when it comes to writing, it can be helpful to have some sheets to practice with. I got a dry-erase workbook at Target that has some pre-writing activities (like mazes and tracing lines) as well as letters and words. I like that it's dry-erase so we can use it as many times as M wants. She worked her way through the entire book one day, then asked me to clean it off so she could do more!
I love the "magic board" we got from Lakeshore Learning. You could use any kind of magnetic board to practice writing, but I got this one specifically because they have these printing practice cards that M tried at the library and really liked. She's kind of hit or miss with when she feels like using them, so I try to keep them out in an accessible location where she'll see them and grab them when she's interested. You can see in the second picture below that she's getting pretty good at legibly tracing the letters now.
Freehand LettersM has been able to draw a circle for a while now, so the letter "O" was the first letter I asked her to draw freehand. She was excited to see that she could "write" by herself, and that encouraged her to try to write other letters.
We were at an art program recently, and she started painting on the easel and said "Look Mom! The letter S and a big letter O!"
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