Saturday, May 14, 2011

Handwritting activities

In a previous post, I talked about how we prepare the children to handwritting in our Montessori classroom. And today, I decided to show you a little bit more of what we do. Yesterday, 2 of my little learners managed to write all their names, on their own and without any visual help or assistance at all. I was so proud. And again, this proves how efficient the Montessori technique is. This post covers 3 other (pre)handwritting activities the 3.5 to 4.5 years old children have to master throughout the year. Here it goes:

" Dotting" is one of the stages in the progression of writing. I usually introduce this stage before presenting the children with the Montessori sand paper letters. It helps them a lot with their hand eye coordination and teach them how to get a standy hand when joining the dots. "Dotting"  is simply the process of tracing shapes or words with dotted lines. You would start presenting the children with straight lines, curved lines, spiralling lines, zizzaging lines, pointing lines etc...  I use several French preschool activity book I got years ago when on holidays. They are a great pit of resources (sometimes I get fed up googling all the time, looking for specific exercises to feed the needs of my prescholers). 

Then we move on to shapes and then words (particularly their own names). You can find templates all over the internet but I like Kidssoup's templates and DLTK's ones. You should also check the following sites: Eye can learn, Kidzone and Preschool activity box.
Here is a sample of what one of the children did in class yesterday.

The sand Tray
To continue practicing writing letters with the hand, and as an extension of the Montessori sandpaper letters  (see here), we use a small tray filled with a thin layer of sand. The child first traces the sandpaper letter and then write it in the sand. When done, the child gently shakes the tray to erase the letter. You can also use cornmeal or even use a ziploc bag filled with shaving cream or food coloured water (I saw this on many other blogs but I haven't tried yet, to be honest).

Using Letter template
When the child has mastered the process of tracing over the dots, we can move onto the use of letter template (at the same  time as using the sand tray). I use pattern/outlines/template of letters we are learning together (in relation to their own names). I print them and cut them before gluing them onto a coloured A5 card sheet.The children are then asked to trace the sandpaper letter first (see previous post). The, the children have to  trace over the pattern/template using 4 markers of different colours, one after one.

The local primary school has been using this technique for years with the Junior Infants. And I think it is a brilliant addition to our Montessori sandpaper letters. Actually the children love these little "rainbow" letters (as one of the kids prouldly exclaimed the other day on completing his letter!).

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