Archive for the 'letter formations' Category

Handwriting Worksheets: Beware! #2

<When writing on unlined paper with his eyes closed, the second grade student's letters are 3/4 inch high.  The space on the worksheet is unlined and allows for 1/4 inch high letters.

Problem:  When a child writes letters with their eyes closed either for fun or for professional observation, the height of the letters produced can represent the “comfort level” of his finger movements.  If the height of the letters are 3/4 inch, this is more appropriate for a kindergarden student than for a second grade student.  As he must tighten down his fingers to place the letter in the worksheet’s smaller space, hand fatigue and decreased writing speed can result.

Solution: Copy the worksheet allowing for larger spaces or allow the writing on an extra page.  If ask to write on the back of the worksheet, two problems appear: 1. usually there are no lines on the back.  We all write better with lines. 2. Flipping the worksheet from front to back and then back to the front can be very distracting as well as taxing on the child’s memory as he attempts to remember the question and answer, flip the sheet and then write.

To help with improving the size of his writing, a program such as “Callirobics” ( may be helpful.  Also it would be important to look at his pencil grip which may be a cause (though not only) of the larger writing.

Handwriting Worksheets: Beware!

MP900049596Handwriting worksheets vary according to the writing program that is being used.  Let’s look at the first of several worksheet “glitches” and how to fix them:

1. A worksheet has four lines for practicing a single letter..  A “model” letter to be traced is at the beginning of the first line but is not repeated at all.  Dots are placed for each letter on the lines.

Problem:  The child will trace the model letter and hopefully make the first independent letter correctly.  The second independent letter is modeled after the first independent letter.  The third independent letter is formed according to the second independent letter not the model. As the child loses focus on the model letter especially on the fourth line, the letter will more than likely be formed incorrectly.

Solution:  Place a model letter at the beginning of EACH line as well as in the MIDDLE of each line.  Make sure the model letter is traced correctly!  Once the letter formation is in the tactile (touch) and proprioceptive (body movement) systems, it’s almost impossible to change!

Note: This pencil grip is highly inefficient!  But that’s another blog!:)

Alphabet Game: Memory and Go Fish

Alphabet Flash Cards can be used in different ways!  Hope you had fun with last week’s Battle game! Oh! I forgot to tell you that for your older kids who are into cursive, its great fun to mix a deck of upper and lower case printed alphabet cards with a deck of upper and lower case cursive cards together to play Battle with!  More cards, more fun! (if you don’t have cursive cards to play with check out my decks of printed and cursive playing cards!)

Here are 2 more fun ways to use a deck of upper and lower case cards (either print or cursive).

Memory:  Lay out the decks face down in rows.  Take turns turning up 4 cards to see if they match.  If two of the cards are the same letter, the person keeps that pair and has another turn  turning up another 4 cards.  No match? Its the next person’s turn.  The game ends when all the cards are gone. The person with the most matches wins! If there are too many cards, decrease the number just making sure there are pairs of cards.

Go Fish:  The dealer passes out 7 cards to each person.  Then lays down the remaining deck on the table.  Each person places the 7 cards in his hand and looks to see if there are two cards alike (a and A).  If there are matches, he lays them down on the table and is given two more cards.  The person to the dealer’s left, begins play by asking if a person has a specific letter.  If that person does have the letter, he must give it to the person asking for the letter.  The person asking for the letter takes the letter, places it with its matching partner, places the pair on the table and asks again for a specific letter.  If the person being asked does not have the letter, he says “Go fish” and the person must draw a card from the deck. Then its the next person’s turn to asked for a specific letter.  When a player has matched and played all of his cards, the game is over.  The person with the most matches wins the game.

Do you all have new ideas?


Puzzles, Parquetry, and Writing: Paper Modifications

  1. 1. Check the color of the paper: Blue may be helpful for those with visual perceptual weaknesses.
  2. 2. Clearly mark the writing lines:  Anytime the writing lines  change either with color, width, or boldness, explain the difference to the child. With notebook paper it may be helpful to highlight every other space so that the child writes a line of words, skips a space, writes a line of words, etc.  This will help keep the tails of letters such as p, j, g, from interfering with word legibility on the next line.
  3. Mark on the desk where the paper should be placed.Slant of paper and placement does affect quality.
  4. If “hugging the left side of the paper” is a problem, first highlight the left margin of the
    page.  Encourage him to begin at the highlighted edge.  If he continues to
    move away from the highlighted left margin, move the left side of the paper to
    the body’s midline so the child works only in the right body space.
  5. Encourage the student to move the paper up as he writes closer to the bottom of the paper. Many students move their arm off the desk as they reach the bottom of the paper
    which affects legibility.  Encourage him to move his arm across the paper as well to improve legibility.
  6. Make your own paper strips and mark off boxes for each letter to be written in.  Help the child see the outline of the words by drawing around them before writing them.

Puzzles, Parquetry, and Writing: Solutions

  1. Ensure that it is not a physical visual problem by having a through eye examination.
  2. Have your child evaluated by a professional such as an occupational therapist or psychologists or developmental optometrists to determine what
    the issues might be.
  3. If a spatial concept is missing, make sure he understands it with his body first and then in toy play and finally with paper and pencil.
  4. If your child has high verbal skills, teach him to talk himself through activities. Use his stronger language to help pull up his weakness. For example if working on
    pegboard patterns, talk your child through the first placement of the rubber band on
    the pegs: “Jimmy, place the rubber band from the top of the board to the
    bottom of the board just like in the pattern”.
  5. Encourage puzzles, parquetry block patterns, geo-boards, “Find Waldo “books, perceptual apps
  6. Make adaptations for writing, art, and math as needed.  These will be discussed in the next blogs.

Puzzles and Writing: Problems?

Children who avoid puzzle and block play may develop visual perceptual issues.  It’s always important to have a child’s eyes checked for tracking, covergence, and accommodation besides acquity before attributing the avoidance to visual perceptual issues.  As we have talked about before, its extremely important to consider the developmental (not chronological) age of the child and his attention span as well.  Below is a list of observations noted when there is a visual perceptual issue in early elementary grades:

  1. Difficultyplacing letters on or between the lines correctly.
  2. Difficulty spacing between words or letters.
  3. Difficulty with reversals of letters and numbers (appropriate at certain age levels).
  4. Difficulty copying from the blackboard or overhead if there is a weakness  in memory or figure ground perception
  5. Difficulty forming rounded letters: letters may be flat on the bottom if
    he is distraced by the printed lines
  6. Difficulty visualizing the letter formations
  7. Difficulty finding objects or words on a busy blackboard or bulletin board.
  8. Difficulty finding objects or shapes which are alike or different
  9. Difficulty drawing simple pictures because he does not picture how
    how they look or cannot determine the shapes they are made of  (house is a square with a triangle roof).
  10. Difficulty with math, particularly lining up the numbers

Puzzles and Writing: Is There a Connection?

For older children, puzzles with multiple interlocking pieces offer more advanced

  • Spatial concept of “corner”: As the child puts sides pieces together with top or bottom
    pieces, this concept is learned. Interesting we don’t use the word “corner”
    much anymore in our conversations!
  • Attention to details: “Part to whole”: Details/ parts can come together to make a picture.
  • Visual memory: This is encouraged as the child looks at the picture on  the box,
    remembers a part of it, and goes to find pieces.
  • Figure Ground: The child is able to find one piece among many pieces.

multi piece puzzles


 Concepts of corners  Names are written in the left upper corner of the paper
 Attention to details on the pieces  Attention to details that make a “b” turn into a “d”
 Visual  memory  Ability to picture and remember the “looks” of a letter (Writing of a
letter comes through motor memory.)
 Figure Ground  Ability to sort out words from a busy blackboard or a letter from the
middle of a word; ability to write on a line without being distracted by the
line (letter will be flat on the bottom if distracted by the line).

Handwriting Questions

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Alphabet Soup: Fun Activities to Stir Your Child's Interest in Letters by Lyn Armstrong O.T.R