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Ways to Write or Trace Letters and Numbers

Teach your kids new ways to write or trace letters and numbers! These inexpensive activities use things you already have at home! It's educational and fun!


collage photo of different writing activities.


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Our little ones are becoming more and more curious about the world around them and these weird symbols that they can't quite seem to decipher yet. 

Learning letters and numbers is a multi-sensory lesson that is not just visual and tactile, it stimulates their ability to recognize and recall their body movement when drawing the letters and numbers. 

Many teachers will say that it is perfectly normal for a child to start school without being able to identify or write all of their letters and numbers. But as parents there is some sort of unspoken rule that is ingrained in us that we must help our children learn their numbers and letters. We sing the ABCs to them before they even speak their first words, we randomly point out letters and numbers that we see on buildings and t-shirts, we try to limit screen time to academic television shows, and we invest hugely in toys to help educate. 

However, the ability to help them identify and write their letters and numbers through motor skill development does not have to break the bank. Cost cutting causes creativity. And here are some creative ways to not just help our children learn and grow but to have fun in the process.

 

Before we begin to write, letter/number recognition and tracing is important and does not always require a traditional writing utensil.


a green plate with the letter c written in sprinkles.


1. Food is always fun

  • Before baking alphabet cookies, let them practice tracing with sprinkles.  No messy sprinkle showers. This requires practice with hand/eye coordination as well.
  • Make letters/numbers using small pretzel sticks and circle pretzels. Show them letters/numbers and let them try to match them or give them outlines and let them fill the shapes with pretzels.


2. Drive around the track

  • Make the letters/numbers out of road drawings and then have them use hot wheels to drive the road.

  • Dipping their wheels in a washable paint before driving the track helps them see their progress as well!


letters and numbers written in blue play dough.


3. Make letters with playdough

  • Draw giant letters/numbers as the base and roll the dough to place on top of the letters or numbers.
  • With the proper writing utensil, a flat slab of playdough also makes a great practice board for writing. It works well with toothpicks. I also let my little one use empty mechanical pencils!


4. Life-sized learning

  • Make large letters on the floor with painters tape or with chalk outside to drive on with cars, walk on, jump on, etc...


5. Laminate it

  • Laminate sheets with letters and numbers for them to trace using the dry erase markers.


6. A glass canvas

  • Either write on one side (if you can write backwards) or on paper and tape it to one side of a window so that the little ones can trace what they see on the other side.

 

After tracing, it's time to practice recalling the body movements. Writing using visuals or memory. Not necessarily using traditional pen and paper.


sticks, paint brushes, toothpicks and cotton swabs laying on a dark background.


1. Writing utensils

  • Depending on their age, many children are not ready for that proper pencil grip. So there's no need to stick to traditional writing utensils. Try new tools like chop sticks, cotton swabs, fingers, sticks, toothpicks, paint brushes (either end), even dinosaur tails.


the number 2 written in rice in a gray tray.


2. Sensory writing

  • With the proper container (a tray, baking/cookie sheet, a plastic bin) and the proper filling (whipped cream, shaving cream, rice, sugar, rice crispy cereal, sand), children will have a canvas they can use over and over.


3. Bathtub fun

  • Cover a space on the bathtub wall with shaving cream or a soap and let them practice. Or have them write letters with bathtub finger paint soap on the tub. Handwriting strength begins with full arm/back strength. This is a fun way to promote more strength and control.


4. Outdoor fun

  • Wet and muddy or dry, dirt and beach sand make great canvases for writing practice.


flashcards and a sand tray with the letter z written in the sand.


5. Things to buy


6. Free phone apps  

  • There is an endless amount of free phone/tablet apps that support child learning. My personal favorites are Lucas and Friends and Number Blocks.



the letter c written in sprinkles with an overlay that says ways to write letters.


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