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Thursday, February 3, 2011

Writing Practice Shapes Booklet

Writing Practice Booklet

One of the areas that little ones need to get a lot of practice in is fine motor skills. These are skills that focus on control of the small muscles. One of the first steps toward this is when baby gets those chubby fingers around something tiny like a cheerio and can pick it up with "pincher fingers" or the pointer and thumb. This is an important step to being able to handle a crayon and eventually something smaller like a pencil. In the beginning a child will use their entire fist, but as they develop, and by preschool age they should be learning a more appropriate grip. Think of the way you hold a pencil. I remind my kiddos to use their alligator fingers (pointer, middle and the thumb, even just pointer and thumb is a good start.)
In the very beginning starting with broken shorter and fat crayons makes it easier for them to get the grip right. It's alright if they are still doing the fist grip, they are learning. And while they are learning the best way to teach them is to show, remind and practice, practice, practice.

Between the ages of three and five children usually make rapid progress in developing fine motor skills and manual dexterity. However, these skills require time, patience and again, practice, practice, practice.

I'm a multi-tasker so if I can teach multiple things at once, I'm all for it. And when I think of teaching my kiddo to hold a crayon, pencil, I think why? Well because eventually I want them to be able to write. Before they can write sentences, they have to start with words, before words, the alphabet, and before the alphabet, there are certain shapes. Until your child is capable of producing these lines without too much difficulty, he/she will have a hard time reproducing the shapes involved in the letters of the alphabet. These shapes include straight lines, part circles, horizontal bars, crosses, squares, slanted lines, circles and hooks.

One of my favorite ways for my kiddos to practice is with dry erase markers. These are GREAT for learners, they don't require as much pressure as pencils or even crayons. (By kindergarten they will need to learn to write with pencils.) Another great thing about it is you can use it over and over again.

Here's what I came up with...

There's a free printable for these here: Writing Practice Booklet

After you print these pages out there are numerous options to suit your needs. First you can just use them with pencils or crayons the way they are. The downfall is you only get one use out of them. And to use dry erase effectively, you need to laminate. I have a cold lamination machine that laminates up to 12" by 100'. (One of my FAVORITE tools!). I know there are decently priced hot laminators on the market. And there are certain businesses that provide lamination for a small fee.

If you don't have any of these options (or want a cheaper option), use clear plastic protective sleeves. You find them by the box at office supply stores.
You don't need the heavy duty scrapbook kind, just a 8.5" x 11" of the basic. You don't need very many because you can switch the papers that go inside over and over. Each of my kiddos also have a folder for all their "work." The folders I bought have a clear protective cover and this works just as well. Use dry erase markers and when done, wipe with a paper towel and repeat, over and over.

Our Work Folders

I cut mine individually into strips and then laminated them. After, I used a hole punch and attached with a binder ring (also found in office supply stores.) This way it's smaller and my kiddos love how it's like a mini book for them to write it.

These work great for any age, even if they can't trace, getting them started on proper grip and practice making lines, circles and dots is a great first step!


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