"I want to write smooth letters, mama..."
Zozie has been asking to write alot recently.
He's been working on his name, but at 3.5, he often does "love letters" where he's is pretending to write sentences in paragraph form and give them to me all folded up. The sentences are just loops and squiggles, but they connect, like cursive letters, or in his words, "smooth". "That's E, mama, look..."as he makes a small loop in one of his sentences.
Montessori starts toddlers with lower case cursive letters when introducing the alphabet. What? None of this ALL CAPITAL learning in all the kids toys, books, and teaching props sold in stores? What's up with that?
NOPE. Apparently, lower case cursive is considered the natural "next step" to a child drawing loops and circles. Once introduced, that actually made complete sense to me. Just think of your 3 yr old drawing pictures. How hard is it for him to make a solid straight line, let alone a series of straight lines that connect in a certain sequence (Print Capitals). Curves and loops are much easier for little hands. Also, grammatically, we don't write in all caps. Caps only begin a sentence and lower case letters are used 90+% of the time.
Now to the shape "poking". Tracing is the foundation on which Montessori builds writing skills. When a child shows interest in writing, they are asked to start with the METAL INSERTS. This repetition of tracing different shapes with a pencil builds their coordination and pencil grip, skills they need to master in order to move on to writing.
At the LAB, I was in need of a FAST new home tool, and the metal inserts were much too expensive to own. So this one is really simple, only requiring some paper and a marker. It builds on the idea of tracing shapes, so we used various geometric shapes, outlined by dots, and we asked Zo to hand-poke the dots for tracing purposes. Sounds basic and simple, but the kids really dig it. Now run along and go do some poking-fun of your own!
To build hand eye coordination & focus as foundation to start writing
The Set Up
1) Cut scraps of paper
2) Markers to draw geometric shapes and outline each shape with dots. Make the dots more dense if child is older, looser if child is younger.
3) Sharpened Pencil
4) Small hand towel
1) Bring tray to the table
2) Select one shape to work on
3) Lay the shape on the folded towel to create a soft surface for poking
4) Take the sharpened pencil in one hand and come down firmly on one of the dots, piercing the paper
5) Continue to trace along the shape until all dots have been pierced.
6) Ask child to clip up their finished shapes on a ribbon (Our own addition to work clipping pincher skill and just an opportunity for the child to have a "finish" to the routine in displaying his work)
Some poking fun at home: