Following on from Last Week – More writing tray ideas
Place a little salt, in the bottom of a white plastic tray and show your child how to form the letter shape using his finger to make a trail in the salt.
As a variation, you could colour your salt. (Mix salt and colouring together in a zip lock bag keeping your fingers outside the bag as you mix. Tip out the mixture on to the tray and let it dry before you try the activity.) Food colour works great and so does liquid watercolour, but in their concentrated form both tend to stain clothes and fingers. (You need to take charge of the bottles and only let your child near the colouring once it is well mixed in and ready for him to use!) I used food colour for this, but use liquid water colours in a lot of my activities, as they produce such lovely vibrant colours. They’re difficult to find in the UK, but I got mine from Amazon.
Variations: Instead of colour, add silver glitter to the salt to add some sparkle. Instead of salt try dry lentils or porridge oats.
Or cover the bottom of your tray with a brightly coloured piece of gift wrap. (You’ll probably need to stick it down using clear sticky tape, so the salt can’t slide underneath it. I used a cardboard box lid for my tray and glued the coloured gift-wrap down along the edges and corners.
A messier idea is to mix some flour and water into a gooey consistency. Add some colour then tip it into a white plastic tray. I used blue food colouring and a few plastic fish so small world play could follow the writing activity.
I also made a green version with dinosaurs and bark chippings. Great fun but very messy, so have plenty of kitchen roll at the ready, and wear aprons.
For each writing activity, give a short instruction to guide your child’s finger, e.g. for the letter ‘a’ you could say: ‘All the way round, down and flick.’ (Make sure he begins at the right place. A good guide is to think of a clock face. eg letter ‘c’ starts at 2 goes all the way round and ends at 4. Letter ‘a’ starts at 2, like ‘c’ but keeps on going, as does ‘g’.)
Join up the dots
Draw your chosen letter, several times on a piece of plain paper, using a series of small dots. (Make your letter larger than normal writing.) Place a bigger dot at the starting point and show your child how to join up the little dots to form the letter.
Trace over a letter
This time draw the letter using yellow felt-tipped pen. (Again, use a big pencil dot to mark the starting point.) Show your child how to go over your yellow letters with a thick pencil while you chant the instruction together. If he seems happy to continue, have him try writing the letter several times by himself. Put big ticks next to his most successful attempts and give lots of praise.
Writing in the air
Show your child how to write the letter in the air using his index finger. Use large arm movements and pretend you’re writing on a very large wall. Have him stand beside you as you demonstrate, so he sees the shape the right way round. (You might have to guide his arm when it’s his turn.)
‘Paint’ the letter on your fence
Give her a decorator’s paint brush and a small bucket of water. Show her how to ‘paint’ the letter on a dry wooden fence (or the concrete path.) For a school age child, fill an empty washing up liquid bottle with water and let her squirt the letter shape instead of ‘painting’ it.
To exercise a young pre-schoolers writing muscles:
Each day give your child an A4 sheet of white paper and a soft pencil (or a black felt tipped pen) and ask him to draw you a picture. It doesn’t matter what he draws, but it will be excellent preparation for writing. In doing his drawings he’ll not only be exercising the tiny muscles in his hand, but will also, quite naturally and spontaneously , start to draw (and so practice) all the shapes he’ll need to use in his writing. eg circles, vertical lines, horizontal lines, zig-zags. ( If you save his pictures in order, you’ll gradually see these shapes emerge.) Encourage him to sit on a chair in a comfortable position and hold his pencil properly. Don’t ask him what his picture is, as it probably won’t be anything in particular and he’ll just be enjoying making marks on his paper.
Next post: General fun activities for your target letter.
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