6 Fun Ways to Encourage Children Learning to Write

6 Fun Ways to Encourage Children Learning to Write

 

Watching children learning to write is such a magical process.
The current catch cry at our place is “But how do I spell that?”
Here’s what I have been doing at my place to help unlock the world of writing for my kids.

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Establish a writing space

Is your child discovering the magic of letters and words? And pencils and pens and paper? Here are 6 fun and playful ways to encourage children learning to write. #preschooler #preschoolwriting #learningtowrite #writingactivitiesforpreschoolers

My little guy moved into a Big Boy bed.
So we were left with a cot.
Which my husband suggested we convert into a kiddy desk.
Who was I to argue?!

By no means do you need to create a fancy-pants cot-turned-desk writing space for your child learning to write.
You just need to create an inviting writing space. And stock it with accessible writing materials.

Full transparency: This has lead to many pens and pencils being strewn across the space.
Hello Teachable Moment! I’ve been trying to embrace it as an opportunity to teach my children about the need to organise our belongings. #workinprogress

Provide a variety of materials

Is your child discovering the magic of letters and words? And pencils and pens and paper? Here are 6 fun and playful ways to encourage children learning to write. #preschooler #preschoolwriting #learningtowrite #writingactivitiesforpreschoolers

In their writing space, my children have paper, pencils and markers.

At this stage, my focus is on my children experimenting with writing and mark making.
I’m not hung up on letter formation or correct spelling.
Take a playful, learning approach to writing by supplying different tools and materials.

Things like:

Whiteboards and whiteboard markers
Take writing outside and write with chalk on the fence or footpath
Or use a paintbrush and water to paint words onto the fence or footpath


Novelty materials like these early stART alphabet crayons from Micador are fun. I’ve found them excellent for getting my 3-year-old, a reluctant writer/ sketcher, excited about mark making. (Thank you to Micador for gifting these fab crayons to us.)

Provide an environment rich in text

Children learning to write are excited about letters and words.
Support this curiosity by providing lots of visual support and prompts.
My children are at that obsessive stage of learning to write their names.
So we’ve been doing a lot of discussing about how a name starts with a capital and then lower case letters follow.
I have posters for their first letter so they can see how it is formed.
There is an alphabet chart on the wall. (We got a super cute unicorn-inspired one from Send a Unicorn.)
They also have the desk charts shown above so that they can refer to the alphabet as they write.

Learning to write is a super complex process. Having visual references helps young writers through the process.

Encourage children to play with letters and words

Is your child discovering the magic of letters and words? And pencils and pens and paper? Here are 6 fun and playful ways to encourage children learning to write. #preschooler #preschoolwriting #learningtowrite #writingactivitiesforpreschoolers

This should probably be tip #1.
Children learning to write are excited by the possibility of letters, sounds and words.
Provide lots of playful ways for your children to explore this world of letters and words.
We provide old keyboards for the kids to play with.
Letter tiles, magnets or alphabet cards (bought or DIY) are other ways to show your child how to play with words.

Show your child how writing is an everyday activity

Heading to the supermarket? Demonstrate how you write a shopping list.
Filling in your diary or calendar? Model how you write down the details of an appointment.
Going to a birthday party? Show your child how you think about a message and then write it down.

Involve your child by showing them writing in everyday contexts.

Develop fine motor skills

Successful writers need strong hands.
If you’re concerned that your little one shows no interest in writing, never fear.
Provide lots of fine motor activities for your child and rest assured that they are building up the skills required to eventually become a writer.

Here are 14 fun and playful fine motor activities.
The Happy Hands eBook is also packed with playful ideas for developing fine motor skills.

Happy Hands book

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Is your child discovering the magic of letters and words? And pencils and pens and paper? Here are 6 fun and playful ways to encourage children learning to write. #preschooler #preschoolwriting #learningtowrite #writingactivitiesforpreschoolers

 

Is your child discovering the magic of letters and words? And pencils and pens and paper? Here are 6 fun and playful ways to encourage children learning to write. #preschooler #preschoolwriting #learningtowrite #writingactivitiesforpreschoolers

 

Feelings Paper Plate Craft

Feelings Paper Plate Craft

A paper plate turned into a face for a simple feelings craft.

What does your face do when you experience different feelings?
This simple feelings craft encourages children to think about and discuss how their face can show emotion.

Mr almost-3 has been having some BIG feelings lately.
Which often result in epic meltdowns.
Which results in Mum having BIG feelings.

To try and deal with the emotional roller coaster, we’ve been naming our feelings.
This book has been helping A LOT.

Each letter of the alphabet is assigned an emotion and accompanied by a gorgeous illustration.
Aussie friends, you can purchase your copy here.
International friends, you can purchase your copy here.
(These are affiliate links. Thanks for your support!)

I’ve also written this post on picture books about anxiety and worrying.

To accompany the book, we used some paper plates to create a simple feelings craft.

What you will need:

Paper plates
Split pins
Markers
White card
Wool
Hole punch

What to do:

This simple feelings craft uses paper plates to encourage children to think about and discuss how their face can show emotion. #kidscrafts #paperplatecraft #feelingscraft

My children have an insane love for painting paper plates.
So we had a session of painting paper plates. As you do.

This step is obviously optional. You do not need to paint the plates if this is going to give YOU BIG feelings.

Using a craft knife and mat, create a “window” through which the mouth will be seen.
This is a step to be completed by an adult.

This simple feelings craft uses paper plates to encourage children to think about and discuss how their face can show emotion. #kidscrafts #paperplatecraft #feelingscraft

I included this photo mainly to highlight that craft is all about trial and error. #keepingitreal
On a second plate, draw a variety of mouths illustrating the feelings you wish to explore.
I then trimmed this second plate down, so that it would sit neatly behind the top plate.

On a piece of card, draw eyes and cut out eyebrows.
Use split pins to secure these to your top plate.

You could draw a diverse range of eyes to illustrate different feelings.
The eyes could then be replaced with blu-tack as you discussed different emotions.

Secure your plates together with another split pin.

This simple feelings craft uses paper plates to encourage children to think about and discuss how their face can show emotion. #kidscrafts #paperplatecraft #feelingscraft

And because I like including as much fine motor practice into a craft activity as possible, I used a hole punch so that wool could be threaded through for hair.

This simple feelings craft uses paper plates to encourage children to think about and discuss how their face can show emotion. #kidscrafts #paperplatecraft #feelingscraft

Rotate the bottom plate to change emotions. Discuss what our eyes and eyebrows can do when we experience this feeling.
The above face is what I look like when we are out of milk and there is no morning coffee.

This simple feelings craft uses paper plates to encourage children to think about and discuss how their face can show emotion. #kidscrafts #paperplatecraft #feelingscraft

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This simple feelings craft uses paper plates to encourage children to think about and discuss how their face can show emotion. #kidscrafts #paperplatecraft #feelingscraft

Creative and Playful Alphabet Activities

Creative and Playful Alphabet Activities

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I adore that stage in a child’s life when the World of Letters starts to open up and the magic of the alphabet is discovered.
But how many times can you sing the ABC song before you want to stab yourself in the eye with a fork?!
(Just asking for a friend.)
If you’re looking for some creative and playful alphabet activities, you’ve come to the right place.

Over on Instagram, I co-host the weekly @get.creative.with challenge with the Little Button Diaries team.
Each week, we welcome a guest judge who chooses a theme for our community.
Last week, we welcomed Molly from @littleoneslearn. Molly challenged everybody to #getcreativewith the alphabet.
So much creative, alphabetty goodness!

Creative Alphabet Activities for Younger Kids

It feels good to be back! After what feels like an eternity of being ill, the glue gun is plugged in, the glitter and paint are out and we’re back to crafting! Hooray! Over on @get.creative.with our judge Molly from @littleoneslearn is challenging us to #getcreativewith the alphabet this week and we’re excited all from way from A – Z. To get us started we made this pipe cleaner alphabet fishing game we spied on @wonder.and.awe’s super duper feed ages ago. The Buttons loved it! Come and join in with our alphabet fun over on @get.creative.with. All you need to do is tag your pics @get.creative.with and #getcreativewith and be following @littleoneslearn, @ohcreativeday and us! Easy as A, B, C!

A post shared by Laura & Tia ✨ Crafters & Mamas (@littlebuttondiaries) on

The Little Button Diaries team created an alphabet fishing game out of pipe cleaners. Make a fishing rod out of some dowel, yarn and use a hot glue gun to stick a magnet at the end of the yarn.
Over on their site, they also have a tutorial on making your own felt alphabet with it’s own storage bag.

Little Button Diaries website / On Instagram

Oh hey!  That’s me on Instagram!
I wrote the alphabet in white oil pastels on paper.
The children then painted over the paper with liquid water colours to reveal the hidden alphabet.
You could also use watered-down food dye.

Using our alphabet charts, we then went on an alphabet hunt around the house.
We collected items beginning with the letters of the alphabet and made a design with the gathered items.
Finally, we played a game of good ol’ I-Spy using the items we had gathered.

2…ABC Animal Jamboree…. . A🐜B🐝C🐊A🐜B🐝C🐊A🐜B🐝C🐊A🐜B🐝C🐊 . Bb…Boa Constrictor. The Boa Constructor’s a slippery snake Who slithers and slides round his tree, And when tasty animals wander too close He squashes them slowly for tea! . . . A little homemade addition to this favourite ABC alphabet book. If you love ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ and all the other fab books by Giles Andreae & David Wojtowycz, then you’ll love this ensemble of their creations in alphabetical order. . This copy was one of my daughters favourites way back when she was little. So when @get.creative.with said ‘Alphabet’ I just had to get this book out! My initial idea was an animal painted pebble AND the letters to match, but I think the animals will be an ongoing project! Too many ideas…not enough time! . A week off school meant a trip to the beach, so pebbles were collected. Out came the chalk paint, then the stamps & ink pad, followed by the Posca pens…to make a tactile, multi-sensory resource…so nice to hold and and a little uppercase/lowercase, match the letter to the page game. Work in progress pics in my stories! . . ABC Animal Jamboree…Giles Andrea & David Wojtowycz , Orchard Books 2009. . A🐜B🐝C🐊A🐜B🐝C🐊A🐜B🐝C🐊A🐜B🐝C🐊 . . . . . . @get.creative.with @littleoneslearn #getcreativewith #alphabet #abc #animaljamboree #hobbycraft #gilesandreae #davidwojtowycz #paintedpebbles #hobbycraft #invitationtoplay #invitationtoread #kidlitpicks #kidartlit #kidsbooks #storystones #poscapens #kidsbookstagram #readingmatters #storybooks #getcreativewithbooks #kidsbookcrafts #crafternoon #waketomake #creativelife #oursensorykids #earlyyearslearning #creativechildhood #earlylearning101 #kidscrafts101 #tagfromtheheart #funcraftskids

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Julie Curtin is the kind of Kindy teacher of our dreams. Her classroom looks like such a fun, creative space.
Julie paired her activity with an alphabet book and made letter pebbles. Click on the picture for the full process.

Julie on Instagram

Dig out the fidget spinners! Create a line of letters and get that spinner spinning!
The aim is for your child to name the letter as the spinner moves past it. Extra points if they can provide the corresponding sound!

Raising Kinley website / On Instagram

I love how simple this set up is. Trace around some magnetic letters and then have your little learner match the letter to the traced shape.
Or you could use stickers and add in some fine motor practice!

Busy Little Bodies on Instagram

My friend Amy is the Queen of literacy activities. She’s a bit of a phonemic awareness nerd.
Use stickers on a dice to create a letter dice. Learners keep track of how many times letters have been rolled by using coloured pom poms.
It’s letter identification meets chance and date.

Playful Little Learners website / On Instagram

We have these bath foam letters at our place and they drive us nuts. They appear all over the house.
I love how Cristin and her little learner used the letters to create animals beginning with that letter.

Artsplorers website / On Instagram

Such a genius way to use Duplo with this lower case to capital matching game! And what a great way to build the strength in little fingers through play.

Teacher Types website / On Instagram

I love that this art invitation is adaptable to younger and older learners. This would be a cool way to make some personalised, alphabetty art for a bedroom or playroom.
Check out the tutorial here.

Art Camp La website / On Instagram

Creative Alphabet Activities for Older Kids

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Joanna has 4 children and this activity appealed to all of them. Such a great activity for elementary students.
Using pencils and sharpies, the children designed their own letters and incorporated zentangles into their designs.

The Blue Barn website / On Instagram

I love the process behind this alphabet art. A grid was drawn on some water color paper with pencil. One letter per square, each having upper and lower case letters. Once the letters were written in black oil pastel, the entire page was wet watercolored.  Wet water coloring is when you dip the entire page in water, making sure the entire page gets wet then add your pigment. Such a cool result!

The Mama Juggle is Real on Instagram

It’s been raining nonstop here, reminding me of all the indoor recesses I spent hanging in a corner with my friends making up our own handwriting. Do the kids still do that these days, or am I just a billion years old? 👵🏼 I happened to see that this week’s @getcreativewith challenge from @littleoneslearn is the alphabet, and I just had to join in and share my love for the (lost?) art of handwriting… . A few years ago I saw a beautiful interactive video installation by the artist Xu Bing about the history of Chinese Characters. Did you know that the strokes used to make the symbols were originally styled after bird tracks and shadows cast by trees? Such a striking way to honor nature, no? Xu created an insanely fun calligraphy lesson that used Chinese calligraphic principles to write English. Using brushes and ink to make expressive marks, he wrote English words in squares, writing left to right, top to bottom and outside to inside. . Today I tried using his techniques and it was so much fun! Like a beautiful code, this is a fun experiment in mark-making for older kids, and a whole different way to write and read the English alphabet. Using different kinds of ink and brushes produces a huge variety of results, and is a great reminder that every letter is a work of art. Thanks for the challenge @littleoneslearn! (PS – we also had fun making this “aged” paper with coffee and coffee grounds! A quick pop in the oven and an ironing dries it out in 15 minutes and gives it this beautiful effect!) . . . #getcreativewith #alphabet #kidart #playmatters #learningthroughplay #teachersofinstagram

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Amanda was inspired by the work of conceptual artist Xu Bing who created a lesson using Chinese calligraphic principles to write English.What a super fun way to explore mark-making and art materials with older learners.

Barley and Birch website / On Instagram

My friend Agnes developed this super cute Unicorn Alphabet poster after a conversation in the car with her kids.
It’d look so sweet in a nursery!
You can purchase your copy here.

I also adore these personalised napkin rings! Bringing together fine motor skills with nature and playing with letters. Darling!

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If you're looking for some creative and playful alphabet activities, this is the post for you. Here are 12 alphabet activities for a wide range of learners.

15 Playful Ways to Learn Sight Words

15 Playful Ways to Learn Sight Words

A whiteboard with magnetic letters that read SIGHT WORDS

Sight word practice- love it or loathe it, it’s a pretty important part of learning to read.
How do you help your littles learn their sight words?

Why are sight words important?
As the name suggests, sight words or high frequency words are so called because they occur frequently in texts and the goal is for your child to recognize them on sight.

Reading is a really complex process that requires the use of many different strategies.
Sight word recognition is one of these strategies that kids can rely upon to read a text.

Why is this important?

  • Many sight words do not follow basic phonic principles, so they can’t be sounded out.
  • They enable fluent reading. Reading is a laborious and complex process. Knowing words upon sight, means that beginning readers do not need to decode every single word. Decoding every single word affects the flow of the reading. Fluent reading aids comprehension which is the ultimate goal of reading. Knowledge of sight words allows energy to go towards comprehension not decoding.
  • They promote confidence.

What is the best way to learn sight words?
Practice, practice and repeat!

The more opportunity your child has to play with these words, practice them and spot them in texts, the better.

Learning with Manipulatives

I Spy Bottle

This is a fabulously portable activity that is super simple to make. Fill a dried-out water bottle with rice and sparkles. Write sight words onto small pieces of card and insert into the bottle. Kids have to shake the bottle up to uncover different words. A great activity to keep in the car so that your children can practice their sight words en route to swimming lessons, piano lessons, etc.

Duplo
Write letters on the side of Duplo pieces. Children can connect the pieces to create words. A great way to highlight letter formation as well. Make sure to use long pieces for the “tall” letters (like k, l, t) and the letters with ‘tails’ (like y, g, and p.) Use the smaller pieces for letters that only have a “body” (like a, e, c, o.)

Magnets

Magnets are always a favourite in the classroom. When teamed with a whiteboard, this is a great way for children to practice “read it, build it, write it.
Children read the word aloud. They build it with magnets and then write it. This would be a great activity to organise on the fridge door. Your little reader can practice whilst you get on with organising dinner.

Learning Sight Words Through Sensory Play

Playdough
An oldie but a goldie. Get your reader to trace their sight words into the playdough, using a finger or a paddle pop stick.
They could also roll the playdough into logs and form the letters of the sight words. Lots of fine motor development happening at the same time! We love this playdough recipe.

Paint in a Bag
Squirt some poster paint into a sandwich bag. Seal the bag and cover with duct tape to ensure it is sealed tightly. Give your reader a cotton bud and let them trace their words into the paint. Watch the words disappear!

Shaving Cream
Cover a baking tray in shaving cream and let your child use their “finger pencils” to write their sight words.

Paint with Water
A no-mess activity. Equip your child with a container of water and a paintbrush. Let them “paint” their words on the exterior of the house, on the driveway, on the fence… This is also a great activity for bath time if the clock has beaten you and you didn’t manage to fit in sight word practice in the afternoon madness.

The above activities are also great for fine motor development?
Need some playful ways to develop fine motor skills? Here you go!

Learning Sight Words Through Movement

Chalk and Trampoline
Get your reader to write their sight words in chalk on the trampoline. They have to jump on the word that you call out. A great way to get kids to use up their energy whilst completing their homework.

AUSLAN
Visit the AUSLAN Signbank and get your children to spell their sight words using finger spelling.

Twister
Have your child write their sight words on index cards or scraps of paper. Lay them out on the floor and play Twister. “Put your left hand on the word ‘from.'” You could also play this with chalk on the driveway.

Learning Sight Words With Games

BANG!
One of the most popular sight words games I’ve used in a classroom. Children choose a card from a pile of sight words. If they can read the word, they keep the card. Interspersed through the pile are some BANG! cards. If you draw a BANG! card, you have to put all your cards back into the central pile. The person at the end of the game with the most cards, wins. I first saw this ideas over at K3 Teacher Resources.

Fishing

Cardboard fish shapes with sight words written on them to make a game.

Cut out some fish shapes. Write sight words on the fish and place a paper clip on each fish. Create a “fishing rod” with a ruler, string and a magnet and kids can “fish” out the sight words they recognise or the words that you specify.

Memory
Another oldie but a goldie. Write sight words twice onto pieces of card. Turn all cards word-side down. Readers have to find matching sight words.

Bingo
Create a bingo card with a list of sight words. As you call out a word, your reader has to locate it and cover it on their game board. (This is a fun one to rope all family members into!)

Sight Word Sticks

Write all sight words on some craft sticks or paddle pop sticks. Place them in a jar and your little one has to pull out a stick and read the word. To add another level of fun, set a timer. See how long it takes for your reader to read all the sight words. See if they can beat their record each time.

The key to learning sight words is to practise, practise, practise. And then repeat. And repeat again. Feel free to vary your prompts. You don’t need to be continually asking “Where is the word ‘the?’ Where is the word ‘from?’
You can help your child identify the patterns in words and the way words work by asking things like,
“Find me a word ending with -ey.”
“Where is a word starting with the sound th-.”
“Find me a three letter word beginning with b-.”

Above all, sight word practice should be fun. Otherwise it just feels like rote learning.

This post first appeared over at Mumtastic.

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Sight word practice is an important part of learning to read that can feel like rote learning. Here are 15 playful ways to practice and learn sight words.

4 Fun Ways to Build Scissor Skills + August KidArtLit Review

4 Fun Ways to Build Scissor Skills + August KidArtLit Review

BUILDING SCISSOR SKILLS - Do you have a scissor enthusiast at your place? Here are 4 fun ways for children to build and practise scissor skills.

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My preschooler is going through an intense love affair with scissors.
Let us not speak of the time I found her under the dining table with a self-administered haircut.
Do you also have a scissor enthusiast at yours?
Here are 4 fun ways we have been building and practising scissor skills at our place.

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9 Creative Ways to Learn Shapes

9 Creative Ways to Learn Shapes

A series of colourful blocks

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Thanks for your support.

Looking to explore shapes with your littles?
Here are 9 hands-on, fun and creative ways to learn shapes.
Most importantly, these activities are all rich in opportunities for language development and play-based learning around shapes.
Scroll to the end of this post for 4 of our favourite picture books about shapes.

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