Sunday, April 5, 2015

Pre-writing is FUN! Week #6

Happy Easter and welcome back after a few weeks off from working in the Apple Room due to in-services and illnesses, ugh!

This week, true to habit, the kids were seated in a circle and ready for "pass the putty!" Check out a previous post here where I talk about the benefits of theraputty and the activity that we have performed since week 1 of Pre-writing is FUN! After we chatted about weekend plans, we briefly spoke about proper pencil grip. The Apple Kids then told me whether they had a starting corner or middle starter letter to start their name, and most of them were right on! The Handwriting Without Tears® program uses a blue mat, chalkboard, stamp pad or shaded gray squares on paper to help kids understand where and how to build and draw their letters and numbers. This ensures good formational habits from the start and gets kids using uniform vocabulary too! A lot of what we have focused on in the Apple Room thus far is pre-writing activities, and these are great tools to use at home with your pre-schoolers! Please note that the following 3 images are from the website.

The kids then engaged in a warm-up worksheet getting them ready to draw the first letter in their name. The worksheets used are from the Get Set For School™program and My First School Book. For example, for the letter R, the page focuses on a diagonal line encouraging the children to work left to right and getting them ready for the diagonal on the R, the S pre-sheet has faded lines doing a little c and then a backwards c working to the next page to draw an S, you get the picture ;)

After the kids wrote the first letter in their name, we handed out name strips to write their whole name. Now, this is where the confusion began and this has been a topic of discussion between myself and the teachers since the start of our Pre-writing if FUN! program. When left to their own devices, the kids make formational errors, are not sure whether to write in upper or lower case and just try to make their name look like they've seen it, but they are really not sure how to go about writing the letters. For many, they have the first letter down pat because we have practiced this multiple times, but the rest of their names - challenging. I will give you my opinion on this, and what I have done with kids for over 10 years.

  • Developmentally, learning upper case letters first is appropriate for children. They need to make big lines, littles lines, big curves and little curves - it's not too tricky! They will more easily learn a top to bottom approach learning upper case letters first and will begin writing with good habits from the get go! 
  • When ready, it is important to begin teaching kids how to write their name case sensitive. Ideally, this will begin towards the end of their last pre-school year, for us, Apple Kids! However, some children truly may not be ready for this transition, and I think it is important to honor these children too. 
  • In transitioning to case sensitive name writing i.e. Henry vs. HENRY, it is also important to teach the children how to write their names - this is a skill that needs to be taught and with common cores changing, it seems that we get further and further away from teaching handwriting (this is especially true in the higher grades with teaching cursive writing). Again, incorporating multi-sensory approaches with drawing names in rice/sand, building with roll-a-dough, using the slate chalkboard, will help build good formational habits even with more challenging lower case letters.
  • Teaching upper case letters first is developmentally appropriate and children will be able to make the transition to writing their name case sensitive. From a motor memory perspective, the children can transition because they have learned how to make the letters properly, using multi-sensory approaches, at the right developmental stages.
I cannot say enough about The Handwriting Without Tears® program to help children learn so many skills necessary for learning handwriting in school. All of my previous posts have explained the many areas that we have focused on, so I will not go into it here. To end, follow this link to view a quick video of the kids singing a song from The Get Set For School™CD. It is a song that teaches kids to use a top to bottom approach for writing - Where do you Start your Letters?  Enjoy!

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