Thursday, September 8, 2011

Handwriting Exercises

One of Merrick's biggest struggles is his handwriting.  Though it may seem like a minor subject, it is a big one for me.  I love to write.  Just like I love to read.  And, I want to pass on the love of writing to Merrick.

Merrick is not super interested in filling out handwriting worksheets.  And, by "not super interested," I mean not interested at all.  So, to help reinforce his handwriting skills but still keep it fun at the same time, I've been trying to come up with different ways to learn and write his letters/numbers.

Here are a few handwriting activities that have worked...and a few that have not:

{Bake a Letter}

First, I poured some flour on the coutertops to practice writing letters.  However, this wasn't really a fun time for either me or Merrick.  Neither one of us likes getting our hands dirty.  :)

Then, we made some cookie dough.  I got a package of prepared dough and added just enough flour and eggs to make the dough for cut-out cookies.  By doing this, we were able to manipulate the cookie dough the way we would playdough.  However, the cookies definitely didn't taste as good.  

If I was smart, I would have made a cookie in the "U" shape and spelled out I <3 U.  

{Pasta Letters}
This was probably the most helpful handwriting activity we have done to date.  After reading this article, I realized that Merrick was thinking of writing his letters the way one would think of making art: abstractly.  Instead, I needed to teach him that every letter is made up of either a stick or a ball (a straight line or curve).  I used a baseball and bat as references since he likes t-ball so much.

First, I typed out his name in a dashed font.  Then, I had him trace the letters in red marker (red is his current favorite color).  Next, I had him trace over the red letters in glue.  After each letter was covered in glue, we laid pasta down.  We used penne on the "stick" parts of each letter, and macaroni on the "ball" parts of the letter.  

{Crab Walk}

Apparently, this is an exercise that helps build the muscles in the hand needed for writing.  Merrick didn't know that and he didn't care.  He just enjoyed smokin' his brother and sister in the crab walk.  I even let him get the best of me a few times.  Yes, I threw the win.  Sadly, no one was accepting bets on crab walk race, so I made no money on betting against myself.  

I loved how Scout and Sawyer were just as excited about this game.  Precious Sawyer just scooted on his little diaper bottom across the floor.  Next time we play this game, I think I'll strap a sponge to his bottom...the kids strengthen their writing muscles and I get a clean floor.  Bonus!

{Color Water Relay}

I can't remember where I first saw this activity.  Probably Pinterest.  Similar to the activity above, this game is supposed to strengthen writing muscles.  Truthfully, I have no idea what special muscles are needed for writing (unless "the ones in your hand" count as an answer).  So, I'm just trusting that these internet folks are right and that my son will become totally buff in the handwriting muscle area.

However, if it's all a hoax, all is not lost.  We've definitely had a lot of fun playing these games.

Here's what we did for the Color Water Relay.  It was very simple.  First, I filled a pitcher with water.  I put several drops of blue food coloring to tint the water blue.  Next, I got together a couple of large sponges and two more plastic containers.  I put tons of yellow food coloring drops in one container, and red food coloring in the other.

Here's the game: placing the water pitcher on one side of the lawn and the plastic containers on the other side, put your sponge into the blue water, then run to your respective container and squeeze the water into it.  Whoever has the most water in her/his plastic container at the end of one or two minutes, wins.

Naturally, Merrick won.

As you can see, our poor lawn and vegetable garden are suffering due to the drought in Texas.  Please pray for rain in Texas!

The little twist to the game is that though both Merrick and I squeezed blue water into our plastic containers, we both ended up with different colored water (due to the yellow and red food coloring, of course).  An added bonus - we got to talk about mixing colors!

Sweet Scout wanted to get into the action as well.  I love this picture below.  She would let go her of "letter purse" in order to play.  She found this little plastic purse with magnet letters inside my Handwriting Without Tears curriculum.  She and Sawyer both love playing with those letters.  

{The Magic Glitter Bag}

Remember how I said some of the handwriting activities bombed?  Yeah...that would be this one.  A total dud.  I found this idea off Pinterest.  It seemed like such a good idea.  

Fill a gallon plastic bag with hair gel and glitter, then try to practice writing your letters.  For some reason, the logistics of this just didn't...gel.  It was difficult to see the letters you were writing.  And, you had to "write" it with just the very, very tip of your finger, which is difficult for a 5 year old.

Merrick was not thrilled, as you can possibly tell from the picture below.  Yeah...this goes on the list of what NOT to do with hair gel.  (I'm sure there's a list like that out there somewhere.)

{Jello Writing}

Obviously, the gel bag below was missing a key ingrediant - an "o" at the end!

Magic Glitter Bag was a complete bomb, but Jello Writing was 'da bomb!  This is probably one of Merrick's favorite things that we've done in our entire 3 week homeschooling experience (that's a long time, I know).  

Soooo simple: make some chocolate jello, spread it out on a cookie sheet, then practice writing letters!  We used the Handwriting Without Tears letter sheets to remind ourselves the proper way to write each letter.  Going through the entire alphabet (including rewriting some letters written incorrectly) was no problem at all because Merrick got to lick his finger in between each letter!

After writing the alphabet with his finger, Merrick found it was even more fun to write letters with his mouth...

...which naturally turned into Mama drawing mustaches on his face.  

Hola.  My name is Don Juan Chocolate 'Stache. lovely flower.  I want to inhale your love the way I just inhaled 2 pounds of chocolate jello."  

So...what are your favorite handwriting activities?  


  1. I have a 4 year old and toddler twins too! My boy also struggles with handwriting, these are all great ideas.

  2. That is awesome, Amber! You'll have to tell me what you do to help your little man with his handwriting.