Writing for a Purpose
Showing children that there is a purpose to writing can really inspire them to make marks. Get them involved with writing shopping lists, birthday cards, signs etc and they will quickly become interested. Here we made birthday cards for a cousin and she signed her name.
Using water is a great way to expose children of different ages to letters. Here I put some magnetic letters in coloured water and suggested to the girls that they try and collect as many of the letters as they could using a variety of tools. So many skills are being practised here and I was able to differentiate for the two girls despite the almost two year age gap.
Using familiar toys to engage little ones with letters is a great place to start. Here I made the first letter of her name and suggested she place more lego on top in the same places. She loved it and repeated it several times.
This is a great activity for practising letter formation and the letters can be made larger or smaller spending on the stage your child is at. I wrote some familiar letters on a tuff spot using chalk and suggested she trace over the top using water and a paintbrush.
Using water and a paint brush meant we could practise forming our initial on the ground in the garden. This encourages gross motor development and confidence with letter formation, as the water just dries up so mistakes don’t matter!
This was very simple to set up and is great for children who are just beginning to recognise the initial letters of their name.
Getting together a variety of letter resources is a good idea once your child starts to show an interest. I picked these letter stickers up from Home Bargains and they are great. I let the girls just explore the stickers here and as I took a back seat I could hear my eldest pointing out the letters she knows.
This simple activity was set up to allow the girls to practise recognising their initial. The aim of the game is to clean away any letters that don’t belong. Quick to set up and can be made easier with the exclusion of upper- or lower cases, or more difficult with the inclusion of more letters.
We both believe that it is important to stress there should be no pressure for children to write before they are ready. The activities we set up are purely to spark an interest, and this is how we worked when we were Early Years Teachers. It is so important to take the impetus off the final product and focus on the *process*.
Writing a shopping list, card, letter, sign, name – whatever – in front of your toddler, without even mentioning the fact you’re doing it, will be sparking an interest and they will want to copy.
All these fine and gross motor skills we mention will be preparing children’s muscles for writing. We don’t just mean fingers and hands, we mean forearms, upper arms, elbows, shoulders, core – it’s all important!