by Julie A. Daymut, M.A., CCC-SLP
One of the most exciting things preschoolers and kindergarteners learn is how to write the alphabet-and their own names! Correctly writing uppercase and lowercase letters requires visual skills, fine-motor skills such as hand grip, hand-eye coordination, good posture, focus…and practice! There are many fun ways to help a child learn to form the letters of the alphabet. Here are some "handy" tools and tips:
- Chalk - Write a letter using chalk on the driveway or a chalkboard. Have the child trace your letter then try to write the letter by him/herself. To increase the difficulty, you can draw an outline of the letter by making small marks, such as dots, in the shape of the letter. Have the child connect the marks.
- Sand table or the beach - Write a letter in wet or dry sand using your finger/hand or a stick. Have the child trace your letter and try writing the letter without assistance.
- Dry beans, cereal, or pasta - Give the child a piece of paper with a "bubble letter" written or traced on it. Put glue inside the lines of the letter. Have the child fill in the letter by placing dry beans, cereal, or pasta on the glue. You can hang these up when they dry to create a letter wall or put them on the refrigerator.
- Sandpaper - Use a die-cut machine to cut out (or trace and cut out) the alphabet on pieces of sandpaper. The child can trace the cutouts with his/her fingers to feel the shape of each letter.
- Glitter, cinnamon, or sugar - Put a generous amount of glitter, cinnamon, or sugar on a baking sheet. Have the child write a letter with his/her finger. Let him/her "shake out" the letter after he/she writes it.
- Air - Use large motions to "draw" a letter in the air with your finger/arm. Ask the child to mimic you. You can use hand-over-hand assistance (putting your hand over the child’s hand and moving together).
- Dry-erase board - Have the child trace/write a letter on a dry-erase board. Use a different color for each letter.
- Paint - Help the child paint a letter with finger paint or with a paintbrush. Use your foot as a fun alternative!
- Cookies - Buy cookie cutters in the shapes of the letters of the alphabet. Make cookie dough, and then cut the dough with the cookie cutters. Help the child spell words such as "cat," "Mom," "Dad," etc. with the baked cookies.
- Highlighter - Use a highlighter to write the child’s name on a piece of paper. Have the child use a pencil to trace the letters. For a different approach, use black construction paper with light-colored chalk or with a marker or pen that writes on black paper.