More scoop on the coop:
We keep a box of sand letters that we made together in our Writer's Workshop. Forget pricey sandpaper letters -- our method is way cheaper, fast, easy as can be, and fun too!
The basic how-to: I write each letter out in glue and Jack sprinkles sand over the top. Then he shakes off the excess (his favorite part) and we let it dry. Yes, it really is that simple. And what a great, tactile, hands-on learning tool!
I use these when I am teaching Jack a new letter. I trace over the sand letter with my finger while he watches, and then he traces the letter the same way with his finger. We stick to just one letter until I'm very sure that he has mastered it, and then we move on to the next. We are going through all of the lowercase letters first, and then the capitals. (Except for the first letter of his first name. We did that letter in capital first, to avoid confusion when writing his name.)
I freehand the whole thing, but I am sort of deliberate about where I place the letters on the card. I put the letters on the side of the card that corresponds to the dominant hand (ie. right side for righties, left side for lefties). This encourages kids to hold the card with their non-dominant hand while tracing, a helpful habit.
Let me know if you try making these letters, or have any questions. I think this is one of the best activities for introducing letter-writing to children, and it doesn't even require any writing! Nonetheless, it is sends strong, multi-sensory messages to the brain about how to make each letter.To be an efficient writer, it's just as important to feel the letters as it is to see and hear them.
The next stop on the tour is our basket of alphabet stamps. We use these constantly.
Not a day goes by without us giving something our stamp of approval.
A cubby full of tools-at-the-ready helps a young writer to feel prepared for anything. Glue, string, a stapler, and a hole punch come in handy when we make our little books. (Hmmm... would a future post on little-book-making be of interest to anyone?)
Scissors are indispensable around here (my favorite scissors for little hands, shown here, is the Total Control scissors by Fiskars).
And a manual pencil sharpener is all we need to keep our pencils (and our wits) sharp.
Stay tuned... in the next post we will definitely be getting to the bottom of it (for those of you who haven't flown the coop already). Is everyone still with me?