Kindergarten and 1st grade are the critical times when a child is mastering handwriting. So much of good letter formation depends on your child’s fine motor development. Muscles in the hands and little fingers need to connect to their eyes and brains, developing and maturing eye-hand coordination.
Here are three fun, pre-paper activities to help your young student develop good, legible letter and word printing:
This is an activity I do often with my 1st graders. Standing next to your child, facing in the same direction, ask her to say a letter. Then, both raise your writing hand, index finger pointed out, and “print” the capital and lowercase letter in the air. When she can easily do this with letter partners, try simple words.
Fill the top of a small gift-sized box halfway with sand or salt. With the index finger of his writing hand, have your child trace partner letters you vocalize. As he gets good with letters, practice simple words. Once he can easily trace letters and words with an index finger, use an unsharpened pencil. Using the unsharpened pencil allows him to “feel” how the word is formed when using a writing tool.
“Talking out” the strokes of letters and words will give your child another way to remember how they are formed. For example, for capital h, help her say “straight line down, straight line down, bridge across the middle.” For capital or lowercase s, “sss” around and curve like a slithery snake.
Children love these activities, as it gives them a chance to be successful printers before facing the challenge of writing on lined paper.