I recently went to an “Arty Party” in which the teacher gave us step-by-step instructions on creating an original piece of artwork that she showed us in advance. Throughout the party, the instructor came around and guided us in our progress to ensure that we were on the right track. Before the party, there was no way I could have created the landscape of a sunset on a horizon with trees near and far, but now that I have experienced the process with the steps modeled for me, I think I could re-create it if you asked me to.
I share this story because it is the same for children when it comes to letter, number, and shape formation. They need a visual representation of what it will look like as an end result, and then they need the steps modeled for them, and guidance to walk them through it.
Today, I am going to attach a link I have made for your child to trace the ABC’s, but I don’t want you to give them a pen and walk away wishing them well. I want you to sit down with them, talk about each letter, make it first, and then allow them to trace it. I actually encourage moms and dads to write on a “my turn, your turn” basis with their children so you can model step-by-step what you are doing and they can Xerox what you have just done.
If you want you can search for letter formation poems, songs, and chants online but if you don’t want to overwhelm yourself in a cyber-search simply read the following for your own understandings and then get busy.
Each letter falls into a height scale. Some letters are tall (“touching the sky”), some letters are short (“only reaching the picket fence”), and some have roots (“going underground”).
Each letter has a different shape. Some letters have curvy lines, some letters have straight lines, and some letters have both.
Start at the top when making your letters and “pull down”.
So, to put that all together, if you make an A you would start at the top, pull down straight, go back to the top and pull down the other way, and then draw a line straight across at the picket fence.
You can explain the process however you would like, being as creative or direct as you would like, but try to incorporate some of the formation concepts listed above because it will help your little one learn the letters in their appropriate proportions.
Today you are going to do something a little different than normal. You are going to pick a surface in your house that you want to clean, but one that can be cleaned with shaving cream…this post isn’t called “the sneaky teacher” for nothing….
you are going to clean, and teach at the same time. I personally would pick the bath tub, but you may have something else in mind.
Let your child help you rub shaving cream all over the bath tub and then say “ooohh, let’s use our fingers to write and draw!” Some great writing activities would be: writng your name, their name, any letters your child knows, introduce letters your child doesn’t know, numbers, shapes, and anything in between. This is a fun, child-friendly way to write, strengthen motor skills, learn and practice letter and number formation, and clean your bath tub all in one!
Shaving cream is great for cleaning surfaces such as a bath tub (google to make sure it is for your bath depending on the material) but be careful that it does not get in your child’s eyes!!! Monitor this time and clearly communicate before beginning that they need to keep their hands away from anything except the bath tub. Tell them it could hurt their eyes and mouth if they touch their face, etc.
For other tips and info. read “writing with a twist” and “the timeless teacher” writing posts
As always, have fun!
There is no way to know how long teachers have been using play dough or modeling clay as a means to teach their students to form letters. It is fun, practical, and it teaches children to form letters in a hands-on, meangingful way. IF they can form it, they can write it….once they get the motor skills down.
So my writing activity for today is to 1) Write the letters you want your child to practice onto cardstock with a highlighter or yellow marker. 2) Let your child trace over the letter you made (starting at the top) with a pen or other writing tool and then help them form the clay. If it is the letter A, for example, as you write the letter you might say “I am going to make the letter ’A’. It is a tall letter so I am going to start at the very top and slide down the slide this way (to the left) then do it again because that was fun! Slide down this way (to the right) and then climb across the monkey bars in between. Your turn!” 3) Start working with the clay/play dough. When you are forming the clay you might roll it out like a snake and begin to make the pieces of the play dough to cover the letter. While you form the dough you might say something like, “Okay let’s make the slides, and then the monkey bars for the letter ‘A’ so we can pretend to slide down again”.
Like my recent post “Do your know your ABC’s” said “Always Be Creative;” when you are making up how to form the letters, think about what it reminds you of or ask your child what it reminds them of.
If you want to use your kitchen roller to roll out the play dough, why not? Have a ball.