Kindergarten handwriting instruction is still an important part of your literacy lessons. But in if I am being completely honest with you, this was my LEAST favorite skill to teach. LEAST! Until I found a way to make it fun and FAST!
NOTE: This is a sponsored post from Go Teach, but the content and opinions are my own.
Is handwriting instruction still a thing?
I know, many of us have tons of technology in our classroom. Students are up to their elbows in tablets and they, quite frankly, are better at this technology than I am most of the time. Will they need to know handwriting? Is it still important to teach? Well… there is this little thing called the CCSS:
K.L.1.a-3. Print all uppercase letters.
K.L.1.a-4. Print all lowercase letters.
But the standards alone should not be the reason to convince us to embrace a subject. For me, I need to feel it is important as well, otherwise, it might get pushed off the schedule… whoops!
I often think about where I want students to focus their mental energy. In writers workshop, I want them to focus on composing a message (not handwriting). BUT if handwriting is laborious for the student, they might spend their mental fuel on forming letters or thinking about how to form the letters. I don’t want that to happen. I want them to feel confident and their letter formation to be automatic. SO… we practice.
What does handwriting practice look like?
Each day we practice. I do this as part of our phonics work. You can find this resource by clicking HERE.
I place a copy of the same worksheet the students are working on under my document camera. As we form each letter, I repeat the path of motion. Then I say, “A…apple../a/.” The students echo me. On one side of the paper is the classroom practice. As this is happening, I am also circulating around the room. Because we all know, just because we show them the correct path of motion, it does not mean they will necessarily follow it. We are building muscle memory. I would rather have them do NOTHING than practice it incorrectly. When the page is done, I have students circle their best one. It helps them to be reflective.
The back of the page goes home for “optional homework.” Students practice the letter formation at home. I include the path of motion instructions for the parents and reinforce the importance of building muscle memory. If your students are going to use crayons, these Mr. Sketch Scented Crayons get my vote EVERY. TIME. They are twistable so you don’t have to peel the paper off of them!
Is path of motion THAT important?
Yes! Experts tell us that it is! They also tell us that students should try to complete the letter formation without lifting the pencil whenever possible. For example, a, d, m.. should be written without lifting the pencil. Where letters like k, f, t require a pencil lift.
Focus on the path of motion versus perfection. Meaning, instruction should be focused initially on teaching the students the correct letter path of motion. Perfect legibility will come later with time.
Letter introduction order
Experts also tell us to provide instruction on letters that are formed similarly. You can see the order I use by downloading the FREE curriculum guide that is offered in the right-hand sidebar of my blog.
You have introduced all the letters… now what?
Wouldn’t it be great if humans could be taught once and then they would know? This makes we think about when I was learning a new dance step. I had to do it OVER and OVER and OVER. Then, when my mind would wander, I would miss a step. Students need time to build muscle memory… Enter Minute to Win IT! Here is how it works.
Once all of the letters have been introduced, we start with this activity. In all honesty, I usually wait until mid-November to start this. The entire class starts with the letter a. They practice writing the letter across the first line and then STOP! They do this at their own pace. I walk around to make sure they have the correct letter formation. If they do not, I show them quickly (see the pen marks on her letter b?). Then I set the timer for 1 minute.
Students race down the page as quickly as they can. AGAIN, my focus is on the path of motion. If they reach the bottom and the letters are formed correctly, they pass that letter. So yes, after a few weeks, I have some students working on f, while others are working on k. Also please know, that my expectation might not be the same of every student. Some students might need to complete the page, while others need to just do 10 letters correctly. Another modification might be giving students more time or practicing during a small group time instead for them.
How do I keep track of what letter they are on?
I don’t … the students do it for me. The students have a punch card that they keep in their crayon box. As they “pass” a letter, I punch the letter out and they move on to the next letter. Then students take this home to practice as homework. As part of the motivation for home practice, I sent home a smelly marker with the student. They just got one so they had to take care of it. I know this is a sponsored post, but honestly, Mr. Sketch is the BEST. The markers last REALLY long, they make great anchor charts, and according to one of my students, “The light blue one smells like the car wash.” Ha!
When they bring the page back completed, they get a star on the back of their card. When they get 10 stars, they get a trip to the treasure box! SCORE!
How long does this take?
I know time is a huge commodity. At the beginning of the year, I spend about 10 minutes on teaching the path of motion in conjunction with letter sound each day. When we start to do Minute to Win IT! it takes literally MINUTES… 5 tops!
I have also talked about dessert tubs or early finishers. You can read more about these by clicking HERE. Tossing your path of motion cards with an Expo Marker is simple and such great practice! Again, I know this is a sponsored post, but I only get Expo Markers. I have yet to find another brand that works as well. Nobody has time for dry erase markers that DON’T ERASE! Expo never lets me down. I get a class set at the beginning of the year because my OCD is STRONG!
Thank you, Papermate! I really do love your stuff!
Scented markers can be found HERE.
Scented crayons can be found HERE.
Expo Markers can be found HERE.
You can read my post on b and d letter reversals and grab a free download by clicking HERE.
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