What’s new in my “Teaching Print Step-by-Step” Ebook?

So many parents need help to teach their child to write. Over the years of homeschooling, I have had wonderful success using my laminated handwriting charts.

I have just completely updated my Teaching Print Handwriting Step-by-Step Ebook which is now a 16-page booklet. It includes new detailed instructions & examples on line placement for writing on lined notebook pages, starting & ending points for each letter, as well as new charts that include coloured numbered dots and arrow guidelines.

Here’s what you’ll find in this Teach Print Handwriting Ebook ~

  • Introduction to Teaching Print Handwriting Step-by-Step
  • Why laminated charts work
  • Step-by-Step Handwriting Lessons
  • Getting to know the lines and letter placement
  • How to start teaching print handwriting step-by-step
  • Examples of how to talk through each lower-case letter
  • Print lower case with start & end and arrows (a-o)
  • Print lower case with start & end and arrows (p-z)
  • Print lower case with arrows
  • Upper Case print chart with start & arrows A-N
  • Upper-case print chart with start & arrows O-Z & Numbers 1-9
  • Combined print upper-case and lower-case chart

Would you please support me and pop over to my Packages page to purchase the updated Teaching Print Handwriting Step-by-Step booklet.

If you wish to write a private email to me, please fill in the contact form on my About & Contact page.  I would love to help you!

 Blessings, Nadene
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Line Placement Hints for Handwriting

When your child first starts to write on lined notebook paper, it can be very confusing! Where to start?  Where to skip lines so that letters don’t crowd into each other?

We use laminated handwriting charts to teach print and then cursive letters, first working on lower-case and then going on to upper-case letters.  I have several Ebooks on my Packages page that will teach letter placement, as well as the starting and ending points for each letter.

Once your child can confidently trace over their laminated handwriting chart without making mistakes, he is ready to start Copywork.  Copywork is a wonderful way of practising handwriting in a very meaningful way.  Read all about Charlotte Mason.

Copywork is best done on lined notebook pages.

Here’s a good rule when teaching ~

ALWAYS START BIG AND WORK SMALLER!

When you start writing on lined notebook paper, first use broad lines.  You can find 17mm lined books at your stationery shop.  Then go on to normal feint & margin pages before using the narrow Irish lined paper.

Before starting, first, draw simple little hints in the margin to help know where the body line begins.

We used these 3 hints:

  1. Draw a simple “Cat” in the margin to allow 3 lines of regular notebook pages for the head, body and tail.
  2. It may be quicker to draw a “lollipop man” in the margin. The round shape is the “head” and the stick is the “body”.  The “legs” are where the cat’s tail would be.
  3. The fastest method is to make a clear dot in the body line. My kids would count “Skip-dot-skip-skip-dot-skip-skip-dot…” to quickly place a dot marker on every 2nd alternate line all the way down their margin before beginning their copywork.

With these hints, your child will soon easily know where to start their writing and be able to do beautiful copywork.

Please support me by ordering my Handwriting Tips and Teaching Print  & Cursive Handwriting Ebooks on my Packages page.

If you wish to write me a private email, please fill in the contact form on my About & Contact page.  I would love to help you!

 Blessings, Nadene
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John Muir Nature Quotes & free Copywork pages

Previously I introduced the famous naturalist John Muir.  Today I would love to share a wonderful collection of his beautiful and inspirational nature quotes.

Here are 15 of John Muir’s famous nature quotes  ~

I was struck by John Muir’s real passion and love for nature and the Creator which he expressed so beautifully in his quotes, all taken from AZ Quotes.com ~
I collected several short quotes, some slightly longer quotes, as well as several long quotes.  These would suit children from junior primary all the way to high school.

You can use these quotes ~

  • in your nature journalling
  • displayed in your nature study centre
  • copied or dictated for Copywork
  • for handwriting practice
  • for debate topics
  • as creative writing prompts
  • for nature causes and ideals

Here are your free downloads which include Charlotte Mason’s copywork & dictation principles, about 10 pages of quotes, as well as lined copywork pages ~

May these pages inspire you and your children in your nature journalling and handwriting practice.

Blessings, Nadene

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3 Things to avoid in handwriting lessons

What Works! 

Are you new to homeschooling or facing a crisis with your child’s handwriting?  Here’s some practical advice ~

Here are 3 things to avoid in handwriting lessons:

  • Boring  laminated chartYoung children want to write real words as soon as they can and find endless pattern pages and those pages featuring one. letter. at. a. time. very boring.  These expensive handwriting books take almost a year to complete and many young children become frustrated and negative about handwriting.   We use laminated handwriting charts to learn to print and write cursive.  It is quick, free and painless, and within weeks your child will be able to start using copywork pages and practice their handwriting in real sentences.
  • Bad form – Everyone struggles and makes mistakeHandwriting arrowss when learning something new.  Some children become extremely stressed when they cannot control their fine motor muscles or struggle to remember how to correctly form each letter, and this adds to a negative attitude towards handwriting.    With my method, children use a whiteboard marker on the laminated handwriting charts which rubs out in a jiffy.  Any mistake is quickly and easily erased and the child feels much more satisfied at the end of their lesson.  To teach correct form, mom demonstrates writing each letter on the chart while talking through each movement and shape and then the child copies on the chart.  Watch carefully for correct starting points, directions of the stroke and when and where to lift the pen.
  • Basicshttps://practicalpages.files.wordpress.com/2009/09/p1070277.jpg?w=300&h=225Practice the basic letter formation.  Learn the upper case letters as soon as they master the lower case letters.  Go on to real handwriting as soon as possible using copywork pages.  Practice daily in short, sweet handwriting lessonsCopywork is an excellent handwriting exercise because your child will use almost all the letters, join cursive letters, combine upper and lower case letters in meaningful sentences.  This also is a great help in learning spelling and memorizing Bible verses. 

Here are some helpful downloads on my Packages Page

Handwriting Tips Booklet (US$R7.00 / ZAR70.00)   This comprehensive 20-page E-book is packed with practical tips and activities covers pre, early and basic writing skills .  It includes helpful activities and fun pre-writing games to build up your child’s gross motor strength, develop fine motor control and develop their spatial awareness.  Important guidelines to promote correct posture and pencil grip for maximum control and minimum stress while learning to write.  I recommend you also purchase the step-by-step guides below for specific guidelines to teach print and cursive.

Teaching Print step-by-step (US$2.00 / ZAR20.00)    An 8-page booklet with practical advice, clear examples and step-by-step instructions on how and where to place letters and how to form each print letter.  I share remedial and junior primary teachers tips, which have proven very effective in our in our homeschooling.

Teaching Cursive step-by-step (US$2.00 / ZAR20.00)   A comprehensive 8-page booklet with practical advice, simple instructions, clear examples, step-by-step descriptions on how and where to place letters and how to form cursive letters.

Pop over to order you handwriting booklets on my Packages Page.

Wishing you every blessings, Nadene

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Practical Tip – Mechanical Pencils

mechanical pencilHere’s a homeschool practical tip ~ Use a mechanical pencil

 Here are some benefits ~

  • The constant, fine point prevents smudgy, messy writing.
  • Mechanical pencils points never become dull and blunt,
    and doesn’t require constant sharpening with all the mess and wasted time.
  • Select a pencil with a soft, rubber grip for comfort.
  • Some pencil grips are 3-sided, ergonomic shape which is helpful in establishing the correct pencil grip.
  • A child who struggles with  very light hand pressure should use a soft 2B pencil lead.  This lead will allow a darker line even with light hand pressure.pentel eraser
  • A child who presses too hard should use a harder than normal HB pencil leads such as a H lead.   This lead forms a lighter grey line even when pressed quite hard.
  • Use a good eraser to avoid smudges when rubbing out mistakes.  We all enjoy the Pentel pen-shaped eraser.
  • Mechanical pencil leads last a long time.  Encourage your child not to drop any pencil as this breaks the lead.
  • Some artists use mechanical pencils for their sketches.  It is not just for school work.

I teach handwriting with laminated charts and whiteboard marker.  Once my child knows her letter formation, she goes on to do daily copywork.  Children should write in pencil until they are very confident in cursive before moving on to pens.   Gel pens are wonderfully smooth and flows easily, and older children love to use glitter pens.

Read more details in my post Handwriting Tips #2.

When you tailor-make your homeschooling, you make choices to suit your child’s age, stage and ability.  Chosing a mechanical pencil is practical and helpful.

In Grace, Nadene

 

Print Handwriting Tip#2 – 3D Before 2D

Last week I started my first handwriting tip post ~ Tip #1 ~ Teach Large Letters Before Small

Today’s post is aimed for very young children, pre-writing activities, early primary school and remedial activities.

Think of how a baby learns by putting everything into its mouth, feeling it and turning it to look at the object.  Young children need to feel, see, taste, hear and smell a new object in real life before they can truly relate to images, written forms and shapes of the object.  Using many senses heightens their learning experience and increases their connection to the object they are studying.

We learn best when we think, feel and do.  That’s the message of Dr. Adele Diamond, a cognitive developmental neuroscientist who currently teaches at the University of British Columbia in Canada.  “We might refer to this as “whole body learning.”  According to Dr. Diamond, the executive function of the brain — the prefrontal cortex — works best when we go beyond the rational mind by also involving emotions and physical behaviors.  That makes sense since the more we involve other parts of the brain, the more neural connections we make that reinforce learning.”  (http://www.michaelleestallard.com/brain-research-to-improve-learning-use-whole-mind)

In the same way, when exploring abstract concepts like maths, map work, and letter shapes, children need to connect to the concept and object in real life, or at least, with some of their senses.

3D stands for 3 Dimensions = length, width & height = a physical shape that has height/ mass/ or shape that stands out.

2D stands for 2 Dimensions = length & width = a flat picture or image or drawing

So, when teaching a young child his print letters, you want to teach the letter’s name, its sound (phonics), what it stands for (represents) and how to make that shape … first 3D and then 2D.  Quite a number of things to learn!

Only teach 1 new letter!  Our pre-school homeschool co-op sang the alphabet song every day and then we taught 1 new letter each month.  Actually we stayed with ‘a’ for ages, probably for 3 weeks, doing ‘a’ for ‘angel’ Bible stories, angel songs, “a for apple/ ant/ acorn/ antenna stories, pictures, crafts. In a whole year, we only got to about ‘h’!

Revise the letter daily, adding a new letter if the child is absolutely certain of the letter or is really keen and ready to learn more.

Here are some simple, fun activities that help the young child learn the letter shapes, letter formation, directions and positions:

  •  Make letters out of play dough – rolling sausages, pinching dough, squeezing dough balls  – all these activities helps develop finger muscles!                                                      
  • Use a hula hoop, stick and skipping rope to make letters shapes on the ground.
  • Use their bodies lying on the ground to make letter shapes using skipping ropes or hula hoops or sticks – left and right up and down relates to spatial awareness.
  • Build letters out of Lego blocks.
  • Use cheap plastic/ wooden letters to match picture cards –  [Tip: a good self-correcting letter recognition game: Use index cards and stick pictures from magazines to identify each letter of the alphabet (e.g.: ‘a’ for apple, ant, avocado; ‘b’ for ball, baby, bell, butterfly etc.) Put a dot on the top right hand corner the back of each card and draw the outline of the magnetic letter on the back of the card. Now the child can match the letter to the pictures and check to see if the magnet letter fits in the outline on the back. Siblings enjoy helping find pictures to stick on each card!]
  • Use wooden/ plastic letters – hide a few of them in a little cloth bag and let the child feel the letter shape without looking and identify the letter.
  • Make cookie dough and fashion letter shapes out of the dough and decorate them, bake and eat and enjoy!

And remember, that many letter shapes look similar, so the child needs to recognise how they differ.  This requires spatial awareness.  Here are some more activities that your child can do to reinforce direction and position of the letters.  Also these are good exercises for children who struggle with reversals or are simply unsure.

  • Use the arrow chart  (Free Download: Arrow Chart)  It is an incredible tool.Arrow ChartUse in random orientation (hang it differently each time you use it) and simply point to the first arrow in any row (start at one end and move across the row to the end) and the child must quickly move into the correct position (place the bean bag/ step out the hoop/ move in relation to a chair/ move both arms straight up or down or left or right).  You must keep quiet.  Don’t speak. Let the child recognise the direction.  They can call out the direction as they move.  Train them to do it quickly and promptly.  If you are working with more than 1 child, train them to move once you tap on the arrow.  Not before, not long after.  Turn the chart if they are ‘reading ahead’ or start a new random row.  You can work vertically too! Use the whole body, find actions that are fun.
  • Use a hoop and pool noodle or long stick – point to similar letters on a chart and ask the child to move the noodle/ stick to form the letter on the ground.  (b, d, p & q)                                                      
  • Use a hoop and rope to form letters that have curved lines joined to the round shape (g, f, t, j, y)
  • You can call out the letters, or make letter dice and throw the dice to play letter recognition games.
  • Use play dough to roll sausages and form letters.  Let them learn all the letters that are round (a, c, e, o) then letters that are simple straight (l, i, k)
  • Use pipe cleaners to make letter shapes.
  • Use clear descriptive words to describe the letter: “a” (say the phonic name)  “for apple is like a round apple with a straight stick on the right side”
  • Describe an object that it resembles: “ef” (for the letter ‘f’) looks like a tall sun flower with its head looped over the top …” and let them draw the flower over the letter f and turn the cross line into 2 little leaves.
  • Reinforce concept with the correct phonic sound especially the vowels.
  • Use fun physical ball and bean bag games to show positions: above, below, right, left, inside, under, on top, next to, touching.  Let the child sit inside a hoop and place the bean bag outside the hoop in the correct position.
  • Draw a large chalk circle on a wall and let the child throw a beach ball according the position words you call out.
  • Use foam letters (from a craft store) and arrange a few similar letters in a row.  Ask your child to find the specific letter/ the odd letter/ the letter with a straight side on the left or right.

Have fun and keep these activities short and sweet.  If something doesn’t “stick” find other creative ways to teach your child!  Hope that these ideas help.

Blessings,

Fresh New Handwriting Charts!

Some time ago, a fellow South African teacher, now living and working in New Zealand visited my blog and then emailed me and offered to make me new handwriting charts for my blog.

I was stunned. 

My old teaching-days-photocopied-and-tipexed-charts I had uploaded to my blog were fuzzy, smudged and unclear.  Of course I said, “YES!”

Within weeks she popped these gorgeous fresh new charts into my Dropbox

I was delighted.  But then my laptop crashed … and it has taken me months absolutely ages to reorganize myself and upload all these lovely clear charts and refresh my Handwriting Pages

Do you want to pop over and take a look? 

May I introduce you to my cyber-fairy Veronica?

She works as a Special Needs Teacher in Auckland, New Zealand.  She describes how she felt the Lord lead her to take up a position in the school: 

“I emigrated to New Zealand in 1997. I could not find a post at a normal primary school in Auckland and then I got an interview at a special school in the south of Auckland. I wasn’t trained for special education and wondered whether I would be able to do this.

I was pretty nervous as I arrived at the school for the interview, but when I put my hand on the door handle at this Special School, I made eye contact with the students who were waiting for their taxis, and I was sold.

I soon found out that there were no resources available for the low functioning students at that school. I wasn’t very computer literate, but had to learn fast, as I had to make worksheets etc to suit their learning levels and abilities.

When I wanted to write a series of books (resources) and needed a font, and I had to learn how to make fonts.   This would also help other teachers if they wanted to make their own worksheets.

I am also making font pages for a friend who is teaching at a Distance Education School in the South of Brisbane as she has one student who is autistic.

Children need resources to make their education fun and worthwhile.  It doesn’t matter how disabled they are, they can still learn and have a fruitful education!

I don’t want to make a difference in the lives of just the 6 students I teach, but I want to make a difference in 6 million or more other children’s lives!”

How inspiring!  I trust that the Lord blesses and rewards you for  your compassion and love and practical ministry.

And may I say again, “Thank you so much Veronica.”

Blessings,

Teaching Print Handwriting step-by-step

Handwriting arrows

In earlier posts, I have shared some basic principles of teaching handwriting using a laminated chart and writing with a whiteboard marker.

Today, I would like to share some step-by-step tips to help teach print to a beginner writer:

Each of these exercises will form  the writing lesson for the day – keep it short and happy! Repeat the first 4 steps each time you begin a new lesson.

  1. Notice the “man” in the margin – his head is in the head line, his body is in the body line and his legs are in the leg line – (Let your child add eyes & a smile to his face) This “man” is vital for letter placement.  We draw men in all our margins of our lined paper and then begin the writing.  This helps prevent the missing lines or squashing letters too close to the previous line.
  2. All, ALL, ALL, ALL the letters sit on the body line – (let your child underline all the letters with a coloured whiteboard marker)
  3. ALL tall letters start in the head line – (use a whiteboard marker and let your child draw all the tall letters in a new colour)
  4. Some letters have shapes that “hang” down in the leg line – (Use another colour whiteboard marker and let your child  draw over the ‘”legs” of these letters)
  5. Many letters have circle shapes – (let your child draw over all the round, circle-shaped letters)
  6. Many letters have straight lines – (use a coloured marker to draw over the straight, stick shapes)
  7. A few letters have dots – (find them and dot them with the whiteboard marker)
  8. Your child can continue to find similar shapes – candy-canes, lines that make crosses, snake shapes, etc..  Allow them to make any associations with the shapes and use words or pictures.  This is important for them to remember the specific letters and their differences.
  9. Now you are ready to start each letter!  Find the 1 on each line.  Tell them this letter starts on the head line/ just under the body line. Mom must draw and explain. Draw the first shape, describing where it touches lines, bends, curves, becomes straight until you get to number 2.  Now begin the 2nd part of the letter describing where the line/ dot/ crossing line/ straight line starts and finishes.
  10. Let your child copy exactly what you have done.  Talk about and describe exactly what you did.  The child must remember where to start, slide up without lifting his pen, go straight, start to curve and so on.
  11. Once your child has successfully copied that letter, move on to the next.  Do only about a row a day when starting.  If they make any mistakes – lifting the marker instead of sliding it up or down a line already drawn/ making it too big or too small, going over a line etc. – let them wipe it out and try again.  We are aiming for 1 good, clear letter formed correctly!  Use humour – “Oh dear, that body looks too fat!  He ate too many cookies!  Let’s try draw him round, but not so wide!”  or “Wow!  That ‘c’ is floating – let’s try draw him sitting on the line!”  🙂
  12. Once your child can draw over all the lines with care and correct formation, he can do the lower case chart with staring dots.  Talk through the letter formation and watch for correct style, size and starting points.
  13. Once your child can do the lower case letters, you can introduce him to the upper case (capital) letters. Remember with capitals:
  • They ALL start on the head line!
  • They ALL sit on the body line!
  • None hang down into the leg line!
  • Pick up your pen to draw each shape.  They are too big to slide up or down – e.g.: “Capital A – Start on the head line, draw a straight slanting line that leans forward.  Pick up you pen and make another long straight line leaning back.  Pick up you pen and draw the small middle line across the body line to join the tall lines.”

I hope these tips help!  🙂  You can download all these charts on my Free Handwriting Pages