Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Handwriting Desk Strip

Teaching my five-year-old to write legibly is a bit of a struggle. She is getting better, but she's not enjoying the process too much. It is difficult for her, and so she doesn't like doing it. She doesn't like doing things unless she's good at doing them, which is a bit of a catch-22 in terms of learning something new.

We are using A Reason for Handwriting, Book A, right now. It is meant for 1st grade, but we are going slowly. We started with the practice sheets, which reviews single letter formation and is basically at a "2nd half of kindergarten" level, which was perfect for us to start this past January. We just finished the practice sheets last week, as we were only doing 2 lessons a week. This week, we started the real lessons, and I think she's liking them a bit better. She is doing better, so that might be the reason too. (It might also help that I've realized I have to teach her how to form the letters, and not just hand her a worksheet to practice and think that she already knows or can figure out how to form the letter the best way.) The real lessons have half a page of writing a day, with 2 or 3 words to practice. These words are all from a weekly Bible verse. The entire verse is traced on day 4, and on day 5, the student writes the entire verse on a decorative sheet of paper, which they can then color and give to someone after they're done. I'm hoping that will be a good incentive for her to do well, since she likes the idea of giving her grandparents or someone from church a fancy, decorated sheet.

Anyway, I have been thinking that it might be a good idea to stick a alphabet sampler on her desk, so she has a reference to look at when she's writing things for her other classes. We have letter posters hanging around the school room, but they are a bit high and far away for her to gaze at when she's writing on her desk. I saw some self-adhesive alphabet desk strips for sale on the Christian Light Publications website, in their elementary electives - penmanship section. They seemed like what I was looking for, and you could buy them individually, instead of in the packs of 36 which is the only option I see on Amazon. But I don't want to pay nearly $5 in shipping costs to buy a $1.75 alphabet strip, and I'm not ready to buy anything else from CLP at the moment (I wish I had ordered them when I ordered their 1st grade reader a while back!). I searched around and found a few other sources for similar desk strips, but they all either came in multi-packs or would require too much in shipping to make it worthwhile.

So I made my own.

I made and printed out some blank pages with handwriting guide lines, and then wrote my own alphabet on them, trying to make them in the same style as the Reason for Handwriting books. I couldn't find any fonts on my computer that were similar enough. My attempt isn't perfect, but it's good enough for our purposes. My cursive samples in particular may not be exactly the same as the Reason for Handwriting ones - it's hard to write in cursive differently than you learned how! I then cut out the strips and taped them together on her desk. I just put the manuscript version on her desk for now, and then when we start cursive in 2nd grade, I'll put out the cursive version. I turned my desk strips into a pdf file, which I am making available for free here, in case anyone else wants to print out their own alphabet strips. I suggest using a paper cutter to get the lines straight, and I also suggest using just a small piece of clear tape to get the placement of the strips on your desk correct before taping over it all with wide, clear package tape.

Here's a picture of the final result on Rebekah's desk. It may not be perfectly straight, and my tape got twisted a little bit, and then I ran out of package tape and had to revert to plain, narrow Scotch tape. But you get the general idea. You can rearrange the strips to be long and narrow, or short and wide, depending on the size of your desk. You can cut and paste the letters into whatever size strips works best for you.

Here's the link to the pdf file:  https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=explorer&chrome=true&srcid=0BwJU7PcbWJdcZDlhNmNjOTQtZGI4Zi00MGM0LWI4NDQtNzc4ZGQzYWRiOWVi&hl=en


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