There are some kids out there who absolutely HATE handwriting. Let me re-phase that. There are a ton of kids who completely despise to their core the act of working neat handwriting, pencil grasp, slowing down so people can read their words, and writing on the lines. A ton. I’ve worked with many (many!) kids like this. I’ve recommended fun activities to about a zillion parents and teachers of these kiddos. It just isn’t fun and it is work for them. Poor handwriting can result from so many factors: fine motor development, motor planning, visual perceptual skills, and attention, are just a few of the areas that interfere with neatness in written work.
So how do you possibly get through to build those areas up when the child is resistant to pick up a pencil and copy written work?
You make it completely NOT handwriting practice.
I’ve got a super creative way to sneak in skills like pencil control, line awareness, spatial awareness, and letter formation. And kids won’t realize they are building their ability to write on lines, space between words, and form letters the correct size. And it all uses art!
Work on Handwriting with Tangle Art
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I was lucky enough to snag a copy of my friend Jeanette’s new art book, Tangle Art Drawing Games for Kids: A Silly Book for Creative and Visual Thinking. This book is completely creative with easy and fun ways to get arty. I flipped through the book and loved every single project. They are no-prep art ideas that require only a pen and paper for most of the ideas. You could do every project in the book and then go back to the beginning and re-do them all and still be inspired to create new and fun art.
Seriously, the new favorrite book in our house is Tangle Art Drawing Games for Kids: A Silly Book for Creative and Visual Thinking!
One project in the book drew me in when i saw it. Ice pop stick tangle art is the perfect workout to build the skills needed for neatness in handwriting while creating fun art.
We followed the directions in the book to make shapes using craft sticks. Just tracing the craft sticks is a great way to work on bilateral coordination. When a child writes, it is essential that they hold the paper with their non-dominant hand. Then need to stabilize the paper in order for the pencil to glide across the page.
Just try writing without holding the pencil and you will notice a difference in neatness. This small task is often one that slides when kids loose attention in a handwriting task. You might see them slouch over at their desk and write without holding the paper.
Tracing those craft sticks is a nice way to physically attend to the bilateral coordination needed in handwriting tasks.
We used both the jumbo-sized craft sticks and the regular size to build more pencil control. Use a sharpie marker to get a thicker line for building line awareness.
After you’ve got your shapes on the paper, hand over a bunch of brightly colored fine point markers. You can do some tangle art that is described in Tangle Art Drawing Games for Kids: A Silly Book for Creative and Visual Thinking or you can make letters and numbers in the craft stick shapes. Try adding color to a section and then make shapes and letters in the color.
It is fun for kids to make hidden messages in the shapes by spelling out a name or word with all of the letters.
If your kiddo is VERY anti-letters, try working on spatial awareness and pencil control by practicing the writing strokes needed for letter formation. Instruct them to make counter clockwise circles close to one another, diagonal lines, horizontal and vertical lines, and mountain shapes.
Encourage them to use those fine point markers to write very closely spaced lines. We also tried a few cursive line formations.
For the younger crowd, this activity is great for pre-writing skills, too. Coloring in the shapes encourages the motor skills needed to move the pencil in handwriting.
Now go off and make art while working on handwriting! Don’t forget to grab your copy of Tangle Art Drawing Games for Kids: A Silly Book for Creative and Visual Thinking! You will love it!!