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Friday, September 27, 2019


We are putting THE CART BEFORE THE HORSE when it comes to having children write. Believe it or not, we didn't even teach children to write in kindergarten in the "old days." Lined paper and handwriting were part of the first grade curriculum. Children's hands and small motor skills haven't changed, but our expectations certainly have!!

There are several basic strokes that children need to draw before expecting them to make a letter or number. In order of development, the strokes are a vertical line, a horizontal line, a circle, a cross, a square, a diagonal line, an X, and a triangle. Here are some multi-sensory materials where children can experiment and practice making the pre-writing strokes.

Sensory Tub 
Fill the bottom of a plastic tub with sand, rice, salt, grits, or another sensory material. Encourage children to make the strokes in the tub.

*Squirt shaving cream on a laminated table top or lunchroom tray. After free exploration, encourage children to practice making strokes.

Play Dough Book
Use file folders to make this book. On one file folder write “Can you make lines?” and draw lines. On another folder write, “Can you make curves?” and draw curves.   

Write “Can you make shapes?” on another file folder. Make other objects and shapes for children to reproduce on additional folders. Laminate. Hole punch and bind the folders with book rings. 

*Let children use play dough, Wikki Stix, and other materials to reproduce lines, curves, and shapes.

Connect the Dots
Use a marker to make dotted strokes. Put a drop of glue on top of each dot. Dry. Children trace over the dots of glue with their finger. 

Hint! Make the first dot green and the last dot red to indicate where to start and stop.

Plastic Needlepoint Canvas
This plastic material that looks like screen can be purchased at most craft stores.    

Place a piece of paper on top and then make strokes and shapes with a crayon. Press firmly for best results. Trace over with your finger.

Rainbow Writing
Make strokes with a black marker. Children take different colors or crayons or markers and trace in multiple colors.
• Make giant pre-writing strokes on chart paper and tape to a wall. Encourage children to work together to make “rainbows” from the shapes.

Sidewalk Chalk
Provide children with chalk so they can practice strokes, shapes, and letters on paved surfaces. 

Turn off the lights, give children a flashlight, and let them make shapes and letters on the wall.

Horizontal, Vertical Song
(Carrie O’Bara and Terri Miller) (Tune: “Where Is Thumbkin?”)
Horizontal, horizontal, (Forearms held up horizontally in front of chest.)
Vertical, vertical. (Forearms bent at elbows to form right angles.)
Horizontal, horizontal, Vertical, vertical.
Then diagonal, then diagonal. (Right arm slants in front and then left.)
Add a curve. Add a curve. (Make a “c” with right hand and then left.)
Then diagonal, then diagonal.
Add a curve. Add a curve.