By: Suzanne Schuchert, M.S, CCC-SLP
What did handwriting instruction look like when you were in elementary school? Was it all pencils and worksheets? How did your teachers prepare you to develop your writing skills? While this kind of instruction is certainly important, there are a lot of fun activities that help with letter recognition and formation that won’t put kids to sleep. Here are three ideas you can use at home.
1. Mystery Letters
This is a game that helps kids think about how letters are formed. It can also help reinforce that certain groups of letters are all formed in similar ways. For example, the “magic c” group of lowercase letters all start off with the formation of a “c” (c, a, d, g).
To play the game, begin writing a letter and stop in the middle. Ask your child what letter you are thinking of. They may say a letter that has a similar formation pattern to the letter you were thinking of.
If so, that’s great! You can tell them that it was a good guess, but you were thinking of another letter that starts out the same way. Once they guess correctly, show them how your mystery letter turns into the target letter by finishing it.
This mystery letter started as a “c,” and the line kept going up until it almost got back to the starting point. It could turn into an “a,” “d,” “g,” or “o.” Discussing all the different options the letter could be helps kids remember formation patterns.
2. Letter Wake-Ups
For younger students who are still learning the sounds that correspond with letter symbols, this is a great game. Start by writing a small number of letters on a piece of paper or whiteboard. I make a majority of the letters that the student is already familiar with. I’ll write just 1-2 letters that I know they have a hard time remembering. Next, we cover the letters up with their “blankets,” which can be index cards or sticky notes. Depending on their memory abilities, I will either cover the letters entirely or leave the letter’s “head” uncovered.
Tell the student that each letter only wakes up to its own sound. Say a letter sound and see if the student can uncover the correct letter. I like to present sounds in an order that allows them to use process of elimination to correctly wake up the letters that are more challenging for them.
Switch roles and have the student be the “alarm clock.” You can intentionally make errors to see if the child can catch them and correct you. It can be beneficial to make errors on challenging letters so you can continually model the letter-sound correspondence. Example: “Oh you’re right, “f” doesn’t say /k/, it says /f/. Good job catching my mistake!”
3. Sand Letter
Sand letter writing is a great way to practice letter formation in a fun and different way. Have your child trace a letter in the sand with their index finger. The increased tactile sensation they get from the sand can help them better recall how the letter is formed. If they are having success with writing the letter, see if they can write short words that contain the target letter (2-3 letters) in the sand. You can make your letters extra fun by adding glitter or sprinkles to your sand!
ETLC Can Help Make Handwriting Fun
Even with today’s children growing up with technology readily at their fingertips for typing and texting, handwriting is still incredibly important for academic skills in general.
At Enrichment Therapy & Learning Center, we’re experts at helping your child reach their full potential and making it fun along the way! Want to learn more exciting ways you can help your child develop their handwriting skills? Contact us today!
740 Community Drive, Unit A
North Liberty, IA 52317
5530 West Pkwy, Suite 300
Johnston, IA 50131