Saturday, October 29, 2016

When Your Little Ones Want to Write Their Names

Wisdom tells us that young learners should be taught to write capital letters first. This is because capital letters are much easier to write than lower case – they all start at the top and they are easier to recognize and form! Thus, I follow this rule when teaching letter writing.

However, I break this rule when it comes to young learners writing their names! In my experience, if a child learns to write his/her name in upper case, much time is spent in Kindergarten trying to break this habit and convert the child to proper case. Ugh! Thus, I teach my early learners to write their names in proper case, even if developmentally it is premature. 

I have a Writing Center every day in my classroom. I vary the writing utensil (crayons, small markers, cut-off colored pencils) and I vary the size and thickness and shape of the writing paper. Here are some writing utensils I like to use …
Notice the skinny but short markers and the broken chalk and crayon. This size is much easier for small hands to control.
I teach my students to trace. This gives them experience forming strokes that might challenge them when writing their name. As part of our Morning Routine, my students complete a tracing activity. As time goes by and their skill increases, I increase the level of challenge of the tracing activities from lines to shapes to letters. Here are samples of my Morning Routine tracing activities…

Here are my students tracing their names…
Meanwhile, I provide my students with opportunities to practice spelling their names using various materials…
And opportunities to decorate the letters of their names
And sensory activities for letter writing practice
All of these activities are intended to help the students:

- Know the letters in their name
- Know the shape of each of these letters
- Be able to draw basic lines and shapes
- Be able to write their name in proper case

Here are some of my friends. They are excited to write their names!
Have fun with your students as they learn to write their names! 

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Scissoring Skills

Scissoring is Important! Think about it. In order to use scissors correctly, it requires so many skills! Children need:
  • sufficient finger and hand strength and stability (holding and squeezing the scissors)
  • sufficient development of the hand arches that enable the hand to grasp objects of different sizes and shapes (controlling the skill and power of the scissors)
  • hand-eye coordination which is the coordinated control of eye movement with hand movement, and the processing of visual input and proprioception for guidance (feeling where the scissors are, seeing where the scissors should go and making them go there)
  • bilateral integration which is the ability to coordinate both sides of the body at the same time in a controlled and organized manner (holding the scissors with the dominant hand and guiding the paper with the helper hand), and 
  • ability to cross the midline so that both sides of the brain communicate properly and the dominant hand develops (while scissoring, the helper hand or scissoring hand often cross the midline)
All of these same skills also contribute to the development of handwriting, so they are of particular importance during Preschool and Kindergarten. Help your students develop good scissoring skills (and help their handwriting) by providing them with lots of fun, varied practice, and proper guidance (keep your thumb up!). Here are various scissoring activities I use in my classroom:


I have also created some scissoring printables (available from my TpT store by clicking on each image) designed with multiple purposes in mind: 

Scissoring letters helps students internalize letter shapes. This then helps with letter formation, avoiding reversals and confusion between similarly-shaped letters.

Scissoring sight words helps internalize the ‘shape’ of the sight word. These samples are from my Dolch Primer and Pre-Primer sets.

The I Can Cut and Glue booklets reinforce scissoring, letter recognition and early reading. And scissoring animal shapes is a fun way to support your Animal Unit! 

As your students progress with their scissoring, they will move through the developmental stages of scissoring
  • snipping along the edge of the paper
  • cutting a fringe along the edge of the paper
  • cutting straight lines
  • cutting zig-zags
  • cutting curved lines
  • cutting right angles
In my classroom I offer lots of scissoring practice throughout the year by including scissoring in Centers almost daily. If I don’t have a specific scissoring activity that ties into the curriculum that day, I include something interesting to scissor (straws, paint chips, strips of colored paper) in my Writing Center along with other activities that reinforce handwriting skills. My students love scissoring!

What fun activities do you do in your classroom to help your students develop their scissoring skills?

Monday, February 15, 2016

Letter Formation Literacy Centers

In order for early learners to master forming letters, they must internalize each letter’s shape and orientation. As often as possible I use fun kinesthetic activities to help students with letter reversal remediation, discrimination between similarly-shaped letters (b d g q for example), and shaping hard-to-form letters (s for example). 

Here are some kinesthetic activities I use that don't require any special materials:
Alphabet Play-Doh mats are great too! They really help students 'get' letters like P and S. Here are images of my Play-Doh Mats. Click here to download them for free! Don't forget, you can use Wikki Stix as well as play-doh!
Dot painting, scissoring, and tracing also help students internalize the shape and orientation of letters. Here are some printable activities from my TpT store. 
Handwriting Without Tears has products, like the wooden pieces shown below, that you can use to help your students internalize letter shapes. Click here to take a look.
Using letter stamps is so much fun and not only reinforces letter size, shape, and direction, but it also helps with spelling. And guess what? It’s fun! My favorite letter stamps came from Lakeshore Learning.
That's it for now! I hope that you got some ideas from this post, or are able to use my freebie. If you would like to receive future posts in your Email InBox, we can do that! Just Follow Me via email. The option is near the top of the page on the right hand side and it looks like this: 

Now, for the important question... 
What are your students' favorite Literacy Centers?