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Deedee Wills - Mrs. Wills Kindergarten

Why Teaching Kindergarten Handwriting is Still Important

Kindergarten handwriting instruction is still an important part of your literacy lessons. This post will show you how to easily work alphabet formation and path of motion lessons into your daily schedule... and it is fun!

Kindergarten Handwriting… is it Still Important?

Absolutely, kindergarten handwriting is more important than ever!  I must raise my hand to admit that there was a day when I would have had a different answer.  But, when you know better, you do better… right?

Kindergarten Handwriting – What does the Research Say

The Journal of Occupational Therapy, Schools, and Early Intervention published a review on handwriting and interventions for preschoolers, kindergarten students, first grade, and second graders. This is what the experts found:

  • Writing letters in late preschool contributes to letter recognition.
  • Elementary students do better when handwriting is explicitly taught.
  • Legibility improves with adequate practice. (Fancher, 2018)

Research also tells us that the more young chidren practice letter formation incorrectly, the harder it is to change.

There is also research that supports handwriting and fluency. As students learn to write the letters more fluently, they are also able to name them more fluently.

Do Teachers Still Teach Handwriting in Kindergarten?

Yes, I know, so many of us have tons of technology in our classroom. Students are up to their elbows in tablets and writing tools, and quite frankly, they’re better at this technology than I am most of the time. Will they need to know handwriting? Is it still important to teach? Well… yes… and there are these little things called the learning standards, as well:

  • 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 Kindergarten Handwriting Practice Look Like?

Each day we practice.  I do these steps as part of our phonics and handwriting practice work. 

  • I place a copy of the same handwriting 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 of the entire group of letters they wrote. It helps them to be reflective.

Handwriting Homework Practice

The back of the page goes home for “optional homework” so students have extra practice with letter formation at home. I include the path of motion instructions for the parents and reinforce the importance of building muscle memory. So, no more guilt about giving out handwriting practice pages! 

Is path of motion THAT important?

Yes! Experts tell us that it is! They also tell us that a good handwriting program should have students try to complete the letter formation without lifting the pencil, whenever possible. For example, a, d, m should be written without lifting the pencil. Whereas, lower case 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 of the alphabet 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 a fun whole group writing practice activity. In all honesty, I usually wait until mid-November to start this. The entire class starts with just the single 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 basic strokes and 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 expectations, with these types of fine motor activities, are usually not the same for 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 with their handwriting worksheets during small group time instead.

When your students are ready for more engaging handwriting practice, along with some numeral and word writing practice (and puzzles too!) – this set is very helpfulClick HERE.

How Do I Keep Track of the Students’ Handwriting Practice Progress?

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 as practice sheets for their 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! What a fun way to master basic letter formation – SCORE!

How long does this take?

I know time is a huge commodity. At the beginning of the year, on a daily basis, I spend about 10 minutes teaching the path of motion, in conjunction with letter sound. Talk about making the most of your day when you don’t have a lot of time — this is a great way to do the hard work of reviewing letter sounds, fine motor skills, and handwriting all at once! So then, when we start to do Minute to Win IT! it literally takes MINUTES… 5 tops!

Dessert Tubs

I have also talked about dessert tubs or early finishers. You can read more about these by clicking HERE. Tossing in your path of motion cards with an Expo Marker is simple and such great practice! Expo markers are the best! 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 would get a class set at the beginning of the year because my OCD is STRONG!

What About Letter Reversals and Handwriting?

You can read my post on b and d letter reversals and grab a free download by clicking:


If you are looking for more on kindergarten handwriting practice worksheets:


And, if you’d like some ideas for center activities that show how to make handwriting practice more fun, click HERE. 

Want a numeral version?

You can find that version by clicking:

FREE Handwriting File

Who doesn’t love effective FREE resources? Grab your free parent path of motion letter by filling out your email information below.

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Kindergarten handwriting instruction is still an important part of your literacy lessons. This post will show you how to easily work alphabet formation and path of motion lessons into your daily schedule... and it is fun!

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Deedee Wills

Deedee Wills

My teaching career allowed me to experience teaching in different classroom environments and grades. My heart belongs to early childhood education. My job is to make teaching FUN, ENGAGING, and EASIER. Welcome!

Hi, I'm DeedeE.

My teaching career allowed me to experience teaching in different classroom environments and grades. My heart belongs to early childhood education. My job is to make teaching FUN, ENGAGING, and EASIER. Welcome!

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30 Responses

  1. Excellent blog post, Deedee!!! As I teach in a Christian school that uses ABeka curriculum, path of motion is stressed strongly for letter formation. However the minute-to-win-it approach to increase speed WITH accuracy is a great addition that I’m going to add. Keep sharing these wonderful strategies. Thanks!

  2. I LOVE how you teach handwriting! I agree that with all the content that needs to be covered each year, we really need to double up on skills when/where we can.

    As far as the Mr. Sketch markers go, don’t even get me started on all the wonderful memories made by these fantastic products! Thirty-some years ago, my first job in high school was working at a public library. My favorite part of the job was creating bulletin boards each month. Those were the days when we would enlarge images on overhead projectors, color them in, cut them out, laminate, and hang them on the wall. Well, I had a boss who would only purchase Mr. Sketch markers, and let me tell you, that made the task of creating bulletin boards even more enjoyable! I still remember trying to incorporate turquoise and magenta into every design just because I loved the smell so much! 🙂 Plus, I adored saying the word “MAGENTA”…

    I read somewhere that the sense of smell is the strongest link to memory, and I really believe that. How many times do we catch a scent of something and are instantly transported in our minds to another place or to a certain person? I think the folks at Mr. Sketch might be on to something because I remember nearly every bulletin board I created in those four years at the library all those years ago. With that in mind, think how we could engage ALL of a students’ senses creating with those magnificent markers and crayons!

    Thanks for the terrific tips and for letting me take a fun trip down memory lane!

    1. Thank you SO MUCH! I am with you. Certain smells take me RIGHT back to that moment in time!

  3. Great way to teach handwriting! I didn’t see the curriculum guide on the sidebar. Where can I get that? Thanks so much for the awesome post!

      1. Hello! I am having a difficult time finding the letter introduction order. Please help!

        1. You can download the curriculum guide. It is on my sidebar wit a pink and green cover. It has everything in there 🙂

          1. Thank you so much for your quick reply, it is greatly appreciated!

            I did download that but can’t seem to find it within that document.

  4. Cab you share some of the sources you’ve used to research handwriting? This has become a hot topic for me and I’m interested in doing more reading on the subject.

  5. I love the path of motion. I really dislike seeing letters that are written inappropriate like the letter a here. Children have enough problems learning letter formation why do we have to confuse them with crazy writing.

  6. I’m trying to sign-up for the the FREE curriculum guide, but the link is not working. Can you add me through this comment section?

  7. Is the Minute To Win It punch card included in the handwriting bundle? I really like that!

    1. Yes! The alphabet Minute to Win It is in the handwriting “Make it Neat” unit.

  8. How do you do capitals and lowercase when you do the Minute To Win It? Do you go through all the uppercase first then move on to lowercase letters? Or do you alternate? (For example: A then a then B then b.)

    1. Honestly for Minute to Win It, I was more concerned with the lowercase letters, since these are what show up in their writing more frequently. So I focused on those for the timed activities 🙂

  9. Should pencils be used to practice handwriting in kindergarten? I like the chubby ones for kids that have motor control problems. Better marker than nothing, but are pencils preferred?

    1. I used pencils but added a modification for those students who needed it. Sometimes it was a different pencil or sometimes it was a grip guide attached to the pencil. I hope that helps.

  10. Is there any way to buy just the Minute To Win It part of the packet? I love that idea so much but don’t need the entire curriculum.

  11. Do you send home a letter to parents explaining the importance of practicing handwriting, with or without homework or writing notebook?

    1. I do send home a note. However, I really encouraged my students to take responsibility for completing the tasks. That seemed to work the best.

  12. I feel like I’m losing my mind! I know I have looked at your progression of letter to teach handwriting before and now I can’t find it! I’ve been searching the curriculum guide up and down. Can you point me in the right direction? Thank you so much.

    1. Hi Erin,

      Are you talking about the order in which we teach the letters or what is rubric on assessing early writing?

  13. When assessing for letter formation in kinder, should the student form the letter from memory or be able to use a resource to find the letter first? Is there any research on this?

    1. Hi Kelli,

      Ideally, students will gain muscle memory to be able to form the letters without the need of a resource. My students had the formation on their name tags to support them at first. Over time, they became less dependent on the resource. I hope that helps.

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