Use Letter Construction Method for Accurate Letter Formation

When kids are learning to write, they often times form letters in “parts”.  Accuracy with letter formation starts with correct training of how to write letters.  The number one essential task for kids to proceed on with legible and speedy handwriting is correct letter formation.  

That means starting at the top and pulling lines down to the bottom or forming a specific “part” of the letter first (as when writing a letter “a”). This handwriting quick tip is one way to ensure a child can form letters accurately using letter construction.  

Building letters part-by-part and in correct sequence will help kids grasp accurate letter formation and legibility when writing.

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Letter construction activity with markers
Letter Construction to teach children to form letters.

Letter Construction

When we refer to the phrase “letter construction”, we mean to build a letter section by section, or pencil stroke by pencil stroke. This ability to construct a letter means that letters are formed at the top for uppercase letters and at the correct starting point for lowercase letters.

We can facilitate more fluent and efficient handwriting using the letter construction method because teaching children to learn how to write letters by using multisensory strategies, while integrating underlying skills like visual motor skills and pre-writing strokes, uses that information to create a handwriting motor plan for fluent letter formation.

In other words, handwriting is more fluid and legible because the student establishes muscle memory for writing letters that are formed with the most effective stroke sequence.

However: there’s a very important note we need to make here.

Using the “correct” pencil sequence to form letters does not mean functional handwriting can not exist when letters aren’t built the standard way. In other words, kids can definitely start letters at the bottom, use incorrect stroke sequence, or form letters inaccurately and still have functional writing.

Their handwriting can be legible and simply work!

Given that knowledge, this letter construction process is just one letter method to add to a toolbox of handwriting options!

Letter Construction Letter Method

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What is “letter construction”?  Just as explained above, letter construction is a letter method, or handwriting trick that teaches students to construct a letter part by part and in the correct order.  Constructing a letter when teaching kids how to form letters in their initial handwriting training ensures accurate letter formation.

They might make the curve of a lower case letter “b” as a circle and then add a tall line.  What happens when they accidentally place that tall line on the right side of their circle?  They’ve got a “d” instead of a “b”. 

When kids are taught proper letter formation, they are able to carryover the skills when they are challenged to write at increasing speeds or during independent writing tasks.

To “build” a letter with the strokes needed for proper letter formation, you sequentially add onto the lines. 

For example, some letters are called “magic c” letters in the Handwriting Without Tears Program. That’s because the letter c is the base for the letter. Be sure to check out our post on Handwriting Without Tears letter order for information on building letters upon one another, as some letters contain parts or the same pencil strokes as others. This is a way to support a motor plan for letter formation.

Start with a letter c and then add on a line or a line and curve or continue around in a circle and you’ve got three different letters, depending on how the pencil moves.

Starting with our free Letter C worksheet is a great idea because this base letter supports development of other letters, sequentially.

Letter Construction trick

This quick and easy handwriting trick is part of our 30 day series on easy tricks and tips to help with handwriting.  

To help kids understand the step-by-step process of building letters, try this easy trick that breaks down the construction of letters…

You’ll need a few materials to get started:

  1. Lined paper
  2. 3 markers or colored pencils in different colors

That’s it! The process of constructing letters is pretty simple as well:

  1. Grab three different colored markers (affiliate link) or colored pencils.  
  2. Assign each marker to a place.  For us, we assigned purple marker to the first line, the pink marker to the second line, and the orange marker to the third line.
letter construction by building letters

3. Next, show your kids how to “build” the letter by copying you as they form the letter part by part.  Starting out with this handwriting activity, kids may need more visual and verbal cues to follow along with the color sequence with the markers (affiliate link).  Making a visual key helps.

4. Then, kids can trace over the lines to practice letter construction.  Try this for upper case letter formation and lower case letter formation.

Wanting to practice correct letter formation even more?  Use the color coded letter formation in a reusable handwriting activity.  

Use these letter construction tips to help kids learn accurate letter formation to help with legibility and neat handwriting.

To extend this activity, slide the paper into a gallon sized storage bag (affiliate link) or a page protector sleeve and use a dry erase marker to practice letter formation over and over again. Using dry erase markers that match the colors used above, is helpful.

Adding a visual cue of arrows can help, too.

More letter formation tips and tricks that can help with letter construction:

Use these letter construction tips to help kids learn accurate letter formation to help with legibility and neat handwriting.
Use these letter construction tips to help kids learn accurate letter formation to help with legibility and neat handwriting.

Letter construction activity with markers

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