On the eighth day of Book Nook, my teacher gave to me…

eight tools for writing,
seven fishies swimming,

six stickers sticking,
five books to read,
four chirping birds,
three story maps,
two Play-Doh tools,
and a story under the tree!

As a literacy enrichment program, one of Book Nook’s main goals is to prepare children for handwriting and reading.  We start introducing the tools and activities needed for these skills to our Lil’ Hoots, and begin adding more in-depth exercises as they progress to our higher tiers.  Our children work through the different stages of gripping at their own pace, with constant encouragement from their teachers.

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We use a wide variety of writing utensils to expose to different widths and sizes.  Size affects their grip, as well as their advancement throughout the appropriate stages.  We assist them if they are having trouble finding the most comfortable grip and give them helping tools such as a clothespin to keep their grasp consistent.

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Children work through the instruments to fully develop their grasp.  We begin with thicker tools, like markers, and end with thin tools, such as pencils.  These utensils help not only with grip but also in teaching them the proper pressure to place when writing or drawing.

We incorporate many exercises in each lesson to allow a child’s handwriting and grip to properly advance.  Vocabulary lessons are key in expanding their knowledge of words, which readies them for reading.  Letter writing has a very similar effect, but on a much larger scale.  By learning to write their letters, they are building a strong foundation for their future education and lifelong journey as readers.

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With our littlest hoots, we begin with name recognition.  This will help them on the path to writing their names all by themselves.  We place a specific shape next to their name, which stays the same each week.  This helps them to recognize their name and become accustomed with the spelling.  Eventually, we remove the shape and they are able to choose their name on their own.  This activity gives children a chance to acknowledge letters and shapes and, ultimately, understand how each letter comes together to create a name/word.  It also helps with the introduction of phonics and the inclusion of letter sounds while learning their alphabet.

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Another element we use to make handwriting new, fun, and exciting is: dry-erase markers!  Our kids call the dry-erase markers “magic markers” and we let them draw on our “magic table” to make letters, shapes, self portraits, and even more.  They look forward to getting a chance to use the types of markers their teachers do, and are always eager for this part of each lesson.

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There are so many ways to keep children excited about learning.  Introducing new techniques or fun, innovative assignments will have them progressing without even realizing it.  Learning can and should be fun, and we pride ourselves on accomplishing that feat!

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