Dirt, Grass and Sky 
Submitted by: donnaGEM, http://www.austeachers.net
Grade Level(s): K, 1-2
On the board draw three lines for writing on – the bottom line brown (the dirt), the middle line green (grass) and the top line blue (sky). Then when demonstrating how to draw a letter you can refer to the lines the letters touch and it keeps their attention easier than boring normal lines. This is just one of a number of more creative handwriting lessons I’ve used that are listed on my own teaching site, if you want to see some more (I’ve just picked one to post here).

Good Letter, Bad Letter 
Submitted by: Liz Borgwardt
When I teach handwriting, I play “Good Letter A, Bad Letter A”. (Using “A” as an example) I write examples one by one of the letter A. Some of the examples are written incorrectly or sloppily, and some examples are correct and neat. The kids watch the letter (and watch how I write it, because I like to trick them!) and if it’s a “Good” A, they give me a thumbs up. If it’s a “Bad” A, they give me a thumbs down and offer reasons why the letter is bad. The good/bad letters are accompanied by a smiley/frown face above, and the bad examples are crossed out or erased. It’s a success in my room!
Grade Level(s): K

Handwriting Tricks for Beginning Writers 
Submitted by: Amanda Post, Originally posted at the Discussion Forums
Grade Level(s): K, 1-2

We switched from D’Nealian to basic manuscript this year also because the slanted letters and tails were confusing for struggling kids. We use a specific language to describe the handwriting strokes…

We got it from Shaping Literate Minds by Linda Dorn. It goes like this:

a – over around and down
b – d-o-w-n up and over
c – over around and open
d – over around u-p and d-o-w-n
e – across over around and open


As you can see, the language is simple and consistent. It has really helped my kinders, and all the teachers are using it now, so the kids will get the same language in other classes and grades. I am modeling how to put the letters on lines now, but I am not requiring the kids to do it yet. Some are ready, and some are not. Something that has really helped to get the right proportion is acting them out like so:

Letters that touch the top line – We stand and put our arms above our heads
Letters that are only as high as the middle dotted line – We put our hands on our hips
Letters that drop below the bottom line – We squat

For example, for the word dog, we say the letters as we act it out:

d – hands over head
o – hands on hips
g – squat

I started this in the past week or so, and even with not writing on lines yet, my kids are getting the letters lined up in correct proportion.

Most kids do want to start letters at the bottom and go up. Every time we practice handwriting we talk about starting at the top. Handwriting Without Tears has a song to the tune of “If you’re happy and you know it” to help the kids remember:

Where do you start your letters? At the top!
Where do you start your letters? At the top!
Where do you start your letters? At the top!
If you’re gonna start a letter, then you better, better, better
Remember to start it at the top!

Upper case and lower case
Submitted by: A. Lane
Grade Level(s): K, 1-2

Chinese children often practise learning to write using a caligraphy brush, water and a specially treated gray mat that allows the brush strokes to appear on. While it is wet, the children can see how their brush strokes look. Some of these mats can be bought in any stationary store in a city where there is a China town. It is so fascinating for children to use a brush, water or even a finger tip dipped in water. To teach the upper and lower case …

…one can have a simple sentence from a favorite story – perhaps a line from a Dr. Seuss book. This line can be written on a sheet of appropriately lined paper and laminated.

The gray writing mat should have lines drawn across it in white permanent marker or white out or white fabric paint (so that it is raised off the mat and the children’s fingers can feel it).

The children can write the sentence using water and follow the example. They can make their own sentences remembering when to use an upper case letter or lower case letter.

The lines on the mat provide a framework. Because there isn’t any need for a marker – only some water and a finger tip/brush – this is an absorbing activity that young children will especially like to repeat.

Make your own handwriting worksheets – Try out A to Z Teacher Stuff’s handwriting worksheet maker.  You can make custom sheets for children’s names and more.

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