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.