Before they are writing
There are lots of ways to encourage the skills that support writing from long before they are writing letters and words.
Fine motor activities – Starting in the first year, you can give activities that practice the pincer grasp and exercize the fingers. This is picking up small food like Cheerios or raisins. Later it is using tweezers, putting coins in a piggy bank, dress me dolls and playing with small manipulatives like bristles blocks and legos. This is making small balls with playdough and folding paper for planes and oragami.
Gross motor activities – This includes crawling, climbing, swimming, ball games, frisbee and gymnastics. This is anything that encourages the strength, flexibility and coordination of their arms and hands.
Lots of art supplies early and often – The goal is to encouarge a wide range of art supplies early and often. There is a different pencil grip and pencil pressure using thin markers, thick markers, crayons, pencils, dot art, roller art and paintbrushes. Spray bottles and hole punches build hand strength.
Writing props in play – If children are playing store, give them long paper for shopping lists and a notepad for writing reciepts. If they are playing office, give them a calendar for meetings and a legal pads for taking notes.
A writing supply drawer – By three and a half or four years old, it can be helpful to have a writing supply drawer or box separate from your other art supplies. This might have list paper, notebook paper, staitionary, pens and pencils.
Other writing activities – In preschool this includes maze books, dot-to-dot books, Color Wonder, stencils and scratch paper. In elementary school this includes tracing paper, spirograph, and invisible ink books.
Encourage new positions – When they are coloring with crayons, you can encourage them to color sitting at a table, laying on the floor, standing at an easel, or under the table with the paper taped to the underside. Each position gives a new view on arm and hand position, pencil grip and pencil pressure.
Once they are writing
Once they are writing letters and words, the goal is to encourage writing often.
Give them jobs – There are several fun jobs that encourage writing. The ‘list maker’ writes all the shopping and activity lists. The ‘navigator’ draws maps or traces the route on an actual map for car trips. The ‘historian’ keeps a journal of family activities. The ‘mail carrier’ writes postcards to grandparents weekly.
Notebooks, journals and diaries – Especially over the summer months, it can be helpful to encourage writing daily. This might be easiest with a dated journal or diary. It may also be helpful to keep a writing notebook and pencil in the car.
Writing prompts – For young children, this might be having them draw a picture and then tell or write a story to go with it. As they are older, this might be giving them a starting story line or topic and encouraging them to write the rest.
Book making activities – You can make a book with a few pages of paper, a pencil, crayons and a stapler.
- There are ideas for making books at home on http://www.makingbooks.com/freeprojects.shtml and http://www.artistshelpingchildren.org/bookmaking-crafts-make-books.html.
- Here is also a cute kid teaching you how to make a book on youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lu66RP25-i8.
- If you want to get fancy, you can buy blank books https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1/138-5559048-5343804?url=search-alias%3Doffice-products&field-keywords=blank+books.
- You can buy a make your own book kit https://www.amazon.com/Lulu-Jr-Illustory-Craft-Kit/dp/B00IUAAJY4/ref=dp_ob_title_toy.
For more writing and other academic supplies, visit: Lakeshore, Kaplan, Discount School Supplies and Community Playthings