Monday, November 14, 2011

The Easy, Fun way to Teach Handwriting



Handwriting is important to me.  I know, a lot of public schools are skipping it completely, and many homeschoolers have traded early typing skills for handwriting practice.  But for me, it is just…. needed.  There are actually several reasons that handwriting is a useful drill.  Handwriting helps develop reading skills.  Handwriting is very helpful for developing small motor skills and . 


But do we really need worksheets and practice pages to learn to write?  I mean, we all know how to write the letters, so it can’t be that hard to teach them to someone else, right?  Right!  At least, that’s what I decided.


There are two basic tools that I use to help my kids practice writing and enjoy it at the same time.  First, we learn the letters very well using an amazing set of DVDs.  You can read all about them here and here.  I am somewhat passionate about these DVDs, and so are my kids.  We love them!  It is fun to practice the letter shapes with the movie, and it really helps develop writing skills because we are laying a strong foundation (individual letters) before we go on to work on works and sentences.  One new thing at a time, right?


So after we learn all of our letters really well (we used the Print DVD for about six months before I felt like the kids were really strong enough in their individual letters to move on.) we need to move on to the next step- letters and words.  I feel that if this happens too soon the letters will get pretty sloppy because there is so much more to think about.  They really need to be automatic before you move on. 


When Bop was ready to move on to writing more complex words, I found out really quickly that handwriting is BORING.  Of course, I knew this from my own elementary years, but that was just a vague memory now.  This was the real deal for Bop.  We were using a cheap 1st grade writing notebook that I found at Wal-Mart and she was copying words that I wrote on every other line.  I had to ask myself why handwriting pages are all so blah.  Why do they all have these lined pages with maybe a bit of clipart if you are lucky?  Why do we expect our children to want to do their best work on our ugliest pages? 


I decided that if I was going to expect her prettiest writing, the least I could do would be give her a pretty page to write it on.  So I went to NotebookingPages, where I have a complete membership (I have never regretted buying that, by the way!) and started digging around.  I found out that there are hundreds of beautiful pages with primary-lined pages just waiting to be turned into handwriting sheets! 


Some of these have lovely coloring pages of birds, historical figures, animals, Bible stories, transportation themes, and so much more.  Some of them feature lovely borders or small pictures with a large blank space for drawings.  Either way, they are gorgeous and Bop loves them.  She actually ASKS to do handwriting now!  She gets to color pictures or draw when she is done, and she really takes pride in making them lovely. 


Lately our handwriting has just been our dictation words from All About Spelling, but any simple words or phrases will do.  Start by writing the words on every other line so they can see them and remember how to make the letters.  We also want them spelled correctly, because lovely work requires nice spelling.  After that is coming easily we can move on to writing the words lightly above the lines so that they can erase them later and the page will only have their work on it.  Finally, when they are really doing well we can have them move on to true copywork- looking at a source in a book or something that you have typed up, and carefully copying it into their page.




We start with simple words- maybe something from their phonics or spelling, or something from what they are learning that day.  But remember, we want them starting small so that the sheer complexity of the word doesn’t overwhelm their memories of how to form the letters.  We start with CVC words and sight words.  They start out doing maybe 3-5 words a day.  Later they will move on to more, but don’t overwhelm them and they will be able to really do their best. 


Free Notebooking Pages:

I really love NotebookingPages, and highly recommend them.  However, you can find some notebook pages free online.  I have never really found much that compares to the quality of NotebookingPages, but if you want to try this out here are a few sources: 

NotebookingPages free printables

Homeschool Helper Notebooking Pages (most of these seem to have single-lined pages instead of primary-lines pages.)

Homeschool Share Notebooking Pages

Homeschool Notebooking

The Notebooking Fairy blog

Geography-based notebooking pages

Freebies at Currclick:

ABC Notebooking Pages

Ancient Egyptians Pages

Autumn Notebooking Pages

Down on the Farm Pages (These are excellent!)

Bird Notebooking Pages (I don’t know if these have any primary-lines pages.)

Thanksgiving Pages


Kids school web


Our Favorite NotebookingPages:

These are our favorite handwriting pages on  Most of these can be purchased as individual packages, or you can do what I did and buy the whole membership. 




  A-Z Animals








  A-Z Sports








  A-Z Transportation







  Nature Study- Wildflowers, Weeds and Garden Flowers








  Basic Lined Pages








  Nature Study Birds

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Weekly Wrap-up

OK.  I have to start doing these again.  I was reading back through last year’s blog posts and these are my absolute favorite things to read.  What a treasure to have a record of each week!  There was so much that I had forgotten and it has only been a year. 


My sweeties.  Ages three, five and six.

Kids picture web


Bop was on Ambleside Online week 11 this week, and we finished up The House at Pooh Corner.  This has to be my kids’ all time favorite book to listen to, along with Winnie the Pooh.  They all pretended to cry when it was over.  It is also my favorite book to read aloud, so we will be doing it again soon! 

For science we worked on a lapbook from In the Hands of a Child on the water cycle.  I have a lot of resources for learning about weather, and I thought this would be a good one to kick us off.  It was a little slow going at first but we all enjoyed it.  We watched The Magic School Bus Water Cycle on Wednesday and that was fun, of course. 


Watching the Magic School Bus and eating clouds.  (Or marshmallows for the uninformed. )

Kids school movie



Math Time…

kids school 2 web


It takes a lot of concentration.

kids school 3 web


 kids school stck



Mountains of Food

The kids also helped me organize the cupboards.  After they made a castle with the food, they climbed to the top of the cupboards, and later onto the fridge.  They were disappointed when I started putting the food back in. 






We also had to celebrate the first true snowstorm of the season a couple of weeks ago. 


Baby Girl



It was really wet but they had fun…



We had a Merlin visit us. 

Of course, we had to take pictures, look him up in a field guide, and read all about him. 


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