Google+ Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas: 55 Ways to Make Handwriting Practice FUN for Kids {Get Ready for K Through Play}

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

55 Ways to Make Handwriting Practice FUN for Kids {Get Ready for K Through Play}

During my 15+ years as an educator (wow, has it really been that long?!) I have had the privilege of teaching various grades from 3yr olds at the preschool level thru 3rd grade. I've seen lots of bad handwriting habits in that time. Why? Many children feel that practicing handwriting is a chore, an unwanted burden and something they dislike spending time on. With all the technology and electronic devices we have today, it almost seems like handwriting is becoming irrelevant. To me, it isn't. 

The ability to write takes fine motor development and increased control over a child's small motor movements. These are important skills to develop in children. Yet, I feel that less and less time is being spent on teaching children how to properly form letters and write. 

Do you know that it is harder to unteach a child the wrong way to make a letter than it is to teach them the correct way from the start. I can not tell you how many children I have come across that have made up their own way to write letters. It usually involves lots of extra and unnecessary steps and often results in illegible handwriting. 

As a teacher (and a mom) I am going to tell you that it is important to sit with your child and model how to properly form letters. It will help them greatly in school. Are you thinking this is a tedious task and simply not easy to do? Hopefully, I can offer some help that will make it easier for both you and your child(ren). 

Here's how - I am excited to share 55 ways that you can utilize at home (and in the classroom!) to make handwriting practice FUN and actually get kids to do it without groans and grumbles. Seriously! Get ready to think outside the box, ditch your standard pencil and white ruled paper for a change and simply have fun practicing writing. 

I'm not saying you should ditch the pencil and paper completely. Obviously, they are necessary. I'm simply here to remind you (or perhaps show you for the 1st time) that it is not the only way to get kids writing.

As I introduce children to letter formation, I have always preferred a hands-on approach using manipulatives. Even before children can properly grasp a pencil they can practice this way and get a feel for the way a letter should be formed. I model the correct formation with the children and then let them explore and in essence "create" letters.

Use Manipulatives to teach/reinforce letter formation -
1. Craft Sticks
2. play dough (try making your own!)
3. small stones, gems and/or rocks
4. stickers
5. cheerios
6. M&M's
7. Pipe Cleaners
8. Wikki Stix
9. bottle caps
10. cooked spaghetti
11. yarn/string
12. beans
13. cotton balls
14. small strips of paper
15. twigs, sticks 
16. small erasers
17. Unifix/Snap Cubes or Wood Counting Cubes
18. cookie cutters dipped in paint
19. flower petals and/or small leaves
20. q-tips and/or toothpicks

You don't even need a pencil and paper to practice handwriting! Break out of your comfort zone and let your children have fun practicing forming letters in/on -
21. shaving cream
22. salt tray
23. rice tray
24. ziploc baggie filled with Paint
25. ziploc baggie filled with hair gel 
26. Finger Paint
27. pudding
28. icing
29. sand
30. dirt

Let them use their fingers or a paintbrush to practice the strokes. This is tactile and a great way for them to remember how the letter is formed. Later, when they are ready for the pencil they will have a solid starting point and know how to properly form those letters. Yay!

Doing the same old paper and pencil practice over and over again can get boring for everyone. Get creative, get up off the table and have fun writing on -
31. the sidewalk (use chalk, chalk paint or a paintbrush & plain water)
32. a mirror (use dry erase markers)
33. a Magna Doodle
34. a Dry Erase Board
35. the windows (use window crayons or markers)
36. the bathroom tile (use dry erase markers)
37. a Chalk Board (use chalk, a paintbrush & water or fill/color in chalkboard with chalk and invite child to write using water and a paintbrush)
38. the air
39. your back (with their finger)
40. the dirt with a stick
41. Sheet Protectors with Dry Erase and/or Wet Erase markers
42. a Geoboard with rubber bands 

Practicing writing doesn't mean you have to sit at a table. Many younger children are resistant to sitting and practicing. Those same children may delight in writing in dirt with a stick while playing outside, tracing letters on your palm or back as you cuddle in bed before bedtime or writing on the tile walls in the bathtub during bath time. You'd be surprised at how much more fun writing is when you simply do it at a different time or place than expected. Try it!

Stuck on the traditional pencil as your "go to" writing tool? Changing your child's writing tool can make all the difference. Why not use some different (ak.a fun) tools to practice writing -
43. Crayons (you could even try making your own recycled crayons to use!)
44. Chalk
45. Washable Window Crayons and/or Washable Window Markers
46. Markers (colored, Dry Erase and/or Wet Erase)
47. Colored Pencils
48. glue bottles (add food coloring or watercolors to your glue for extra fun or just cover it in glitter for added sparkle)
49. fingers (i.e. finger-painting, using fingerprints and an ink pad, finger-writing in the air or on your back)
50. q-tips (dip in paint or water)
51. small sponges (dip in paint or water)
52. Do A Dot Markers (Bingo Daubers)
53. cars with wheels dipped in paint
54. Quill Feathers dipped in paint or ink.
55. Paintbrushes (use with paint or water)

Go ahead and grab some different materials, change up the work space and have fun teaching your children how to write. It will prove to be invaluable in Kindergarten and there's no better way to get ready for K than through play!

Thank you to My Cute Graphics for the use of the superhero kids graphic.

This post is part 6 of an 8 week series being hosted on 6 blogs to help kids Get Ready for K Through Play! In previous weeks we discussed:

For even more fine motor and writing ideas
check out our other post -

Be sure to read this week's posts shared by my series co-hosts:
(by Coffee Cups and Crayons)

 (by Toddler Approved)

and be sure to follow our Get Ready for K Through Play Pinterest Board for lots of awesome Kindergarten Readiness resources, ideas and activities. 

Have fun getting ready for K!

Disclosure - This post contains Amazon affiliate links for your convenience. I do receive a small payment when purchases are made via my links. Thank you.


  1. Bern, your posts are always truly amazing. It is SO true- just spending the time to teach a child the correct way to form letters in the beginning is move valuable than people know! It is "unlearning" the wrong way that is so hard-(How many times do I say, "We never start our letters from the bottom."??)
    Thank you so much for the way you set up this post. I love the quick list of ideas. Perfect for the beginning of the year.(OK-and the middle, and the end...)
    Kindergarten: Holding Hands and Sticking Together

  2. Bern, This is such a wonderful piece. I will be pinning, of course; but I will also be linking to it in my next blog (I'm writing as we speak!). Thank you so much for sharing your expertise. I'm so glad that I found you and your site so long ago!

  3. Love the ideas! Thanks for sharing your expertise! A few simple steps to determine if your child's messy handwriting problem will cure itself, or if waiting will only making it worse.

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