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Early Handwriting Activities
By: Renata Bursten, Dragonfly Staff

Learning about the building blocks of handwriting.

Prepare the ground well, and expect to reap good harvest. Work on the basic skills involved with handwriting, and expect more rapid improvements later in the development of the complex movements.

Printed English uses many types of strokes. The first strokes to teach are horizontal and vertical. Next come circular, and then Vs and inverted Vs. Boring? Yes, deadly boring, unless... we make a fun exercise of it.
,You can make a ladder from the horizontal lines. Have the child draw the 'rungs' of the ladder. Then, you should join the rungs with long vertical poles. The straighter your poles get over time, the more attention the child is paying to the uniformity of the lines. Ask them, "Could I climb up this ladder? Hmmm... I can't step between those two..." It let's you comment without a direct critique, and let's the child take part in a meaningful exercise.

Make a game out for each of the primary stokes. By doing so, you build the motor skills, but also you build the critical faculty needed for discerning the quality of the stoke. Will my ladder look all crooked? Could someone climb up my ladder? These kinds of perspectives lend a air of importance to the exercise which, if we are lucky, will transpose into attention to detail in penmanship.

Try practicing these strokes with different media, like Wikki Stix, Chubbi Stump crayons, chalk, markers, fat pencils, and paint. You can also use play dough snakes to form the basic strokes. Many of these materials are available in our Creative Arts section.

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Eight In A Row: Developing Pre-Reading Skills

Before a child can learn to read, there are essential "pre-reading" skills that a child must master. Three of the most important are sequencing, left-right progression, and time progression (before and after). All can be explored and practiced with Eight In A Row. The puzzles show scenes that are familiar to most children. There is a child making a painting and a child getting up in the morning. Each piece has only one place to fit it onto the next piece, so children with delayed fine motor skills can usually manage the puzzle-fitting with a minimum of frustration.


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