Let your preschooler be hands-on when it comes to practicing letters.
Your preschooler doesn't need fancy flash cards or workbooks to teach him how to recognize and write letters. Believe it or not, you can teach your preschooler letter recognition and writing skills using household materials such as salt and yarn. According to Mara Guckian, early childhood specialist and managing editor for Teacher Created Resources, teaching your little one to write using a multisensory approach not only helps promote your preschooler's fine motor skills, but also helps him retain the shape of the letter. And chances are, your budding writer will jump at the chance to practice his letters with finger paint.
1Introduce a new letter to your child by writing it boldly on an 8.5-inch by 11-inch piece of paper. Though you may be inclined to start at the beginning of the alphabet and work your way through it in order, consider, instead, beginning with letters that might be of particular interest to your child, such as the letters of his name or a favorite stuffed animal or friend. Tell your preschooler the name of the letter and the sound that it makes.
2Trace the letter slowly, using your pointer finger, as you repeat the name and sound of the letter to your preschooler. Pass the piece of paper to him and allow him the chance to trace the letter as he repeats the name and sound of it.
3Practice forming the letter using materials that allow him to build finger strength to help prepare him for the use of writing utensils. If you are up for the mess, bust out the finger paints and let him smear the letter on the paper using the paints. Fill a baking dish with sand or salt and help him to practice tracing the letters. Allow him to mold the letter using pipe cleaners or strings of yarn or roll long ropes of modeling clay and let him shape them into the letter.
4Give your preschooler fat markers or crayons to use when he feels confident in his knowledge of how the letter is formed. Begin by allowing him to trace over your original sheet of paper with the letter on it, and then see if he is able to draw the letter on his own, without a guide.
5Review the letters that you have worked on continuously by drawing attention to them in your daily activities. As you read aloud to your preschooler, ask him to point to any letters he recognizes on the page. While driving in the car, look for familiar letters on signs. Have him point out the letters he has studied on cereal boxes or soup cans while you eat or prepare a meal together.
6Give him many opportunities to practice his writing. While he is a long way off from writing coherent sentences, allow him the chance to practice forming letters alongside you, helping him to realize that print carries meaning. When you make your grocery list, let him doodle letters on a piece of paper next to you. Provide him the opportunity to sign his name whenever you mail a card to someone. Next time you play "restaurant" together, encourage him to write his own menu that you can order from.
Things You'll Need
- 8.5-inch by 11-inch sheet of paper
- Finger paints
- Baking dish
- Salt or sand
- Pipe cleaners
- Modeling clay
- Fat markers or crayons