Sunday, July 29, 2018

Teaching Handwriting - Part 1

I know that this seems to be a thing of the past, but I still feel that it is important.  That does not mean that it has to take a large chunk of time.  Because I teach half-day Kindergarten {Vonda}, time management is CRUCIAL.  So I can't possibly denote 20-30minutes that some traditional programs require.  I've found a few quick and easy ways to teach handwriting quickly and efficiently.  I hope one of these will be great for you!

Catchy Tunes and Phrases
Students love catchy tunes and phrases.  I am always surprised and pleased when parents tell me their child corrected their penmanship at home using one of our tunes or phrases!  Here are some of mine - I'm pretty sure I made most of them up on the fly!

  • "Never ever ever start at the bottom {move hands back and forth to show "never"}, always at the top {point up to the sky}.
  • There are lots of songs out there for letter formation.  I don't have a specific source, because it is something I learned from my Advisory Teacher when I was a Student Teacher way back when!  But anything put to song sticks with the students so much better!  Add making the letter in the air and voila...magic!

Jen Jones, from Hello Literacy, posted a great anchor chart for teaching the proper formation of letters.  My boys loved this one.  It was easier for my students to identify with this than the traditional "upstairs, downstairs, basement."  Kindergarten is sometimes students first experience with using writing lines and lowercase letters, so some added visuals and verbal cues is just what they need.

Special Incentives
Notice that I didn't say "Prizes!" There is no reason to give rewards for every little thing that students do.  Of course, they love to hear you praise them and compliment them.  But here are a few more easy things you can do to encourage them in their handwriting.  These things have worked great for me!

  • Smelly Markers - My students love any opportunity to use smelly markers.  I have a large bucket of them that they can only use during Handwriting time.  Students can use the marker to circle their best letter on the page, use if for the last line if they have tried their best on all the other lines, circle the best one on a friend's paper, etc...
  • Smelly Stickers - I only use smelly stickers for handwriting assessments.  I do these bi-weekly, and the students only have to do their personal best to earn one.  It never ceases to amaze me how well some students do on these assessments compared to their daily work - all for one little smelly sticker.  If you are ever interested in doing handwriting assessments, click the pictures below for a free download of some rubrics I have created.

Consistency is KEY
Use the chants, phrases, songs, and reminders throughout the day, any time the students have a writing utensil in their hands!  Handwriting time cannot be isolated to only 10 minutes or so per day, or a lot of bad habits will form.  Of course, don't nag the students.  Find lots of ways to remind and encourage them.


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