Inviting, stress-free activities are key when it comes time to teach kids to write. These kid-tested ideas are sure to be a hit in the classroom or at home.
Thank you Go teach! Handwriting for sponsoring this post. All opinions are my own.
The most common comments I’ve heard when people stepped into my classroom are, “Look at all of those children drawing.” “Is your writing center always so popular?” and “My child loves to write, thanks to you.”
The truth is, I’ve changed how I teach kids to write drastically over the past 15 years. I even cringe at some of the things I had my own daughter write when she was three-years-old. I had the best of intentions, of course.
Now that I’ve worked with children for so many years, I’ve found ways to make writing inviting and stress-free at the same time!
Easy Ways to Teach Kids to Write
Today I’m sharing my favorite activities for teaching children to learn to write — the ones that have been successful for all of my students! Here’s a video of these fun and inviting writing activities, and you can read more about each process below!
The first step to teach kids to write
I used to think that the first step in teaching children to write was to sit them down and have them trace. While some children are absolutely ready for this, it’s because they already have a good foundation. My approach is much different now!
The first step to teaching kids to write begins with large arm movements. This allows children to strengthen their entire arms and even their core. Think about the motions you use when writing on a piece of paper. You are using your arms, crossing your body, and you may even feel it in your abdomen as well.
Children begin this process in two very common positions: writing while lying on the floor or writing on a vertical surface.
My favorite way to encourage large arm movements is to tape a sheet of paper onto a smooth wall or window. Then let the children make marks all over the paper. My youngest child gave me the most obvious indication that she was ready for this step soon after she turned two-years-old. She would find markers lying around and draw all over the walls. In all honesty, walls do look a bit like a giant sheet of paper.
We love using the Mr. Sketch scented markers to do this. I can remember them from my own childhood, so smelling the markers while drawing with them is a bit nostalgic. My own kids love them just as much, and they are perfect for this writing activity.
- Mr. Sketch Markers
- Easel paper
Teach multi-sensory writing
I learned about multi-sensory writing while studying some of my Montessorian friends. One day I walked into a preschool classroom that had the most beautiful handwriting I had ever seen. In fact, I didn’t even know it was possible for preschoolers to write so neatly!
When I asked my friend how she did this, she said that she used a multi-sensory method. Maria Montessori taught children to write by tracing the letters first, before handing them a pencil. This made so much sense, and I have seen incredible results with multi-sensory writing techniques. I have also learned that there are lots of ways to do this besides sandpaper letters and sand trays.
One of my favorite multi-sensory writing hacks is with glitter glue. I’ve tried all kinds of glitter glue to do this, and I love the results of Elmer’s glitter glue the most! There are several different colors to choose from, and the glitter is subtle but gives children a nice texture to feel while tracing. Some glitter glues get stuck coming out of the container and make it tricky to make the letters just right. This doesn’t happen with Elmer’s glue. It comes out nice and smoothly, and the glue dries perfectly too.
To make multi-sensory tracing cards, write two numbers (or letters) on a 3-by-5 index card with Elmer’s glitter glue. Allow several hours for these to dry, and then cut them in half.
Then invite the child to trace the number. Teach children to trace from the top to the bottom and have them do it slowly. Put the cards on a binder ring to make them easy and convenient.
- Elmer’s Glitter Glue
- Index Cards
- Binder Ring
Teach kids to write with journals
One of the most inviting ways to teach kids to write is with journals. We make homemade journals with blank white paper. Sometimes lines can be distracting to children, so using blank paper is the perfect alternative. Simply put together 3 to 5 pages of copy paper. Fold them in half and staple the ends to make a journal.
For children who are in the pre-writing stage, you will see them making lines and circle-like shapes. These are all wonderful signs of progress. To help with this, provide circular items that they can trace such as bottle cap lids, small cups, or containers.
Tip: Lots of children naturally tend to hold a pencil or tall crayon up high (as pictured), so encourage them to hold it closer to the tip for better control.
- Blank Journals
- Mr. Sketch Gel Crayons
For children who are already learning to write, I start working on something that they all find to be extra special. When children are starting to write, the first word I teach them is their first name. It is one of the most memorable words they will learn to write, and we are setting the stage for kindergarten and beyond.
One of my favorite ways to help children learn to write their names is with a name rock. Each year I have my students go outside and pick out a nice smooth river rock. Then I write their name on it with a marker. We use this Elmer’s Paint Markers, which is perfect for name writing and decorating.
My students love finding their name rocks any time they need help remembering how to write their names. They can even make rainbow rocks!
- Elmer’s Paint Markers
- River Rock
Teaching children to write should be stress-free and fun, and these activities make the process just that!