Children need to experience the letters with as many senses as possible. In addition to telling stories and drawing pictures about the letters, make sure to include physical activities using each letter shape. The more, the better! Try these ideas: form letters out of bread dough and bake them (delicious for an afternoon snack!); draw them in chalk on the sidewalk or rug, and walk the letters; make letters out of clay or beeswax; draw them in sand with a finger or in the dirt with a stick; cut them out of sandpaper; hammer together bits of wood in letter shapes; make letter shapes with rocks in the garden; and make letter collages. Use your imagination and see how many ways you and your child can explore letters.
Make writing fun:
Try the Three Color Road Race, adapted from Peggy Kaye’s Games for Writing: Playful Ways to Help Your Child Learn to Write. Here’s how: Draw a “road” on a large piece of blank paper, and then draw an identical road on a second sheet. The road should have two parallel lines a few inches apart (the two “sides” of the road), and the roads can be curvy roads, roads with sharp turns, roads with straight parts and with twisty bits. Using colored pencils, each player draws a line down the center of his or her road. The goal is to finish the fastest without touching the edge lines (sides of the road). If you touch the sides (“run off the road”), you have to return to the beginning of the road and start your trip again. When you reach the end of the road, use a different colored pencil and draw a second line, again without touching the edge lines and if possible, without crossing your first line. For the experienced “drivers,” repeat with a third color!
Encouraging emerging writers:
Encourage the idea that children “draw” each letter, and take care to make it beautiful. When your child is practicing, ignore his failures and praise his successes. If he continually makes the same mistake on a particular letter, draw his attention to it gently: “When I make the B, I always make sure that the back is straight and tall.”
Create birthday cards to friends and relatives, or signs for yard sales. Friends and relatives are always pleased when they receive a handmade card. By integrating such activities into your child’s life, you help him to develop attitudes of thoughtfulness and concern for others, in addition to providing opportunities for the expression of his unfolding abilities.