Most summer days, after lunch, you will find my twins and I at the kitchen table. It’s time for “Mommy School,” where we do a short, structured learning activity. We don’t do workbook pages or other things that feel too much like work. We play lots of games, experiment with art supplies, and even try a few science experiments. I strive to keep it light and fun!
Nevertheless, practicing fine motor skills proved to be a battle. My four-year-olds can name every letter, know all the sounds, can count till I beg them to stop . . . but have very little interest in learning to write. In preschool last year, their teachers helped them practice writing their name. As part of our quest to stop summer slide, we continued to practice over the summer.
After some frustrating days, I reached out to my Facebook network, which includes a lot of teachers. I asked for the very best ways to practice name writing and letter formation. Overwhelmingly my friends agreed practice did not need to be of the paper and pencil variety. In fact, most said that kids this age are not ready to grip a pencil and write that way.
So, armed with their advice and another of my beloved Pinterest searches, I came up with a couple of quick ways to practice that were more fun than drill. By making the learning enjoyable, it became less intimidating and more meaningful, and my kids were more willing to practice.
Here are a few of our most successful activities:
Chalkboard Erase the Name
Mia and Miles loved this, and it was so easy! I simply wrote their names in chalk on the chalkboard and gave them a paintbrush and a cup of water. They loved tracing the letters and making them “turn invisible.” They even asked to practice other words! I plan to do this again on the driveway once the weather cools off.
Dot Marker Practice
Sometimes just changing up the size of the paper makes the lesson more interesting. I wrote Mia and Miles in large letters across a sheet of mural paper, taped it to the kitchen floor, and let them cover each letter using dot markers. I also had them trace a dotted line version of their name and had them write it in boxes to work on correct sizing and spacing.
It is said that the more senses you involve when learning, the more likely you are to retain the information. These squishy bags were a way to make writing practice a sensory experience. We made the bags together, which gave Mia and Miles some pride and ownership in the activity. I taped the bags to art trays and gave them a few minutes of free exploration before we started any structured practice. I had them practice each letter in their first and last name along with trying numbers and drawing shapes.
Hopefully, these practice sessions will hope Mia and Miles feel successful as they start back to preschool in just a couple of weeks.
What is your favorite way to practice name writing?
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