Throughout my years of teaching, lessons on handwriting often were unenjoyable for both my students and myself. I tried to make the explicit directions of how letters are formed not be boring for the kids. There were also a handful of kids in the class who would get frustrated because writing was very new to them and they couldn’t grip the pencil or form the letters like their friends. Consistently, it was the students whose parents provided many opportunities for coloring, drawing, writing and learning letter formation at home, who took to formal handwriting the best.
I was delighted to finally see the Handwriting Without Tears app. Having used the program in my classroom, I know first-hand how supportive this program is. Parents now have a trusted source to get their kids started on letter formation even before their fine motor muscles are strong enough to control a pencil.
In the app, kids learn how to form all the capital letters and numbers. No lower case letters are available for practice (hopefully there will be an update later). Kids start by watching the formation on the screen and then get support and plenty of practice with follow up tracing activities. Parents and teachers can set up the app for four kids. There are also options to customize the sensitivity for tracing and support provided through three levels to make sure kids aren’t getting frustrated (or bored).
Kids earn stars while playing, but this app is not a game. The activities are the same for each letter:
• Watch letter being modeled with chalk on a chalkboard.
• Wipe the letter off with a sponge.
• Dry the letter with a towel.
• Write the letter yourself with the chalk.
Activity 1: Popcorn Writing
What You’ll Need:
• Two bowls of popcorn (One for eating and one for writing)
• Large paper with a letter written boldly
• A bottle of glue
Talk about the letter on the paper. Think about the sound the letter makes, what words start or have that letter, and if there are places around the house or neighborhood where your child has seen the letter.
Get ready for making the letter. Start at the top and put the popcorn in order to correctly form the letter. Depending on your child’s ability with the glue bottle, have them add a dot of glue to the paper and then add a piece of popcorn. If that is too advanced, have them draw a short line of glue and add a few pieces of popcorn to the line.
This activity is working on two important writing skills at once. Kids are learning letter formation but, it’s also fantastic for developing fine motor. Think about how defined your child’s pincher grip needs to be to take one piece of popcorn and carefully place it on the paper. Not an easy task!
Use this activity to help a child who often flips or reverses letters in writing. Prepare the letters J, F and R for your child to outline with popcorn.
Activity 2: 12 Playful Ways to Write in Your Home Without Paper
We can not stress enough that practice is a must and we understand you’ll probably feel some stress as a parent. The trick is to get kids writing in ways they enjoy – my boys particularly liked writing the names of their favorite superheros. You’ll also begin paying attention to how your kids are developing their pencil grip.
Here are 12 playful ways to make writing even more fun in your home:
• Chalkboard & chalk.
• Magnetic board.
• White board.
• Sheet protector placed over a page from your favorite book.
• Windows & window markers.
• Mirror & washable markers.
• Cookie sheet filled with sand.
• Cookie sheet filled with rice.
• Shaving cream & a straw or paint brush for writing.
• Paint in a ziplock bag.
• Large appliance box with markers. Let your child create some graffiti.
• Sidewalk chalk.
Practice is what is important here. Remember to keep playful and fun.
It’s important to change the position of the surface your child is writing on. Use a table, wall, refrigerator door or easel This helps your child build different muscles in their arms and hands.