Butterfly Handwriting Activities

Butterfly writing activities

Today, I have another free slide deck activity that is great for Springtime, or anytime of year! These butterfly handwriting activities can help to foster handwriting practice with a butterfly theme. Or, use this free therapy slide deck to facilitate a therapy session while working on letter formation, copying skills, spatial awareness, and size awareness. Want to add this handwriting activity to your therapy toolbox? Let’s break down the butterfly themed activities in this virtual therapy activity. Add this activity to your Spring occupational therapy activities.

Butterfly handwriting activities for kids to work on writing skills with a butterfly theme.

Butterfly handwriting activities

Working on handwriting with kids doesn’t need to be boring. When you help kids work on the visual perceptual skills associated with legible written work, students sometimes do well in the therapy session, but are challenged to carryover written work into their classroom handwriting tasks.

In this slide deck, I’ve created handwriting activities that use a butterfly theme to work on different aspects of handwriting.

In the slide deck, the activities start off with a butterfly maze to challenge visual perceptual skills, spatial awareness, eye-hand coordination, visual attention, and visual tracking.

All of these areas play a part in handwriting.

In the slide deck, students can click the caterpillar images and drag them through the tree maze in order to match the identical caterpillars.

Butterfly Writing Activities

In the next slides in the deck, you’ll see various butterfly writing tasks. There are slides designed to copy longer words and shorter words to challenge copying skills.

Encourage users to break apart parts of the words such as spelling butterfly by the word’s syllables. Kids can then copy each section of the word and work on copying accuracy.

Other butterfly words to copy include:

  • Caterpillar
  • Monach
  • Painted Lady
  • Viceroy
  • Beautiful
  • Cocoon

These words are presented with lined paper for writing the butterfly words, and in a simple copying activity.

To extend this handwriting exercise, you could ask some students to write sentences and others to simply copy the butterfly terms.

Butterfly Writing Task

Included in this therapy slide deck is also a blank slide. Use this as an open-ended activity to work on skills for each individual’s specific needs. Try some of these butterfly writing tasks with this part of the session:

  • Ask students how to spell butterfly.
  • Break the word butterfly apart into smaller words
  • Rearrange the letters in butterfly to spell different words
  • Work on forming the specific letters of the word butterfly (work on letter b reversals and diagonal letters)
  • Work on visual memory to write out the words in a butterfly life cycle.

Draw a Butterfly

The next section of the therapy activities include butterfly drawing activities. Kids can copy the simple and complex forms to copy each butterfly drawing.

This can be a fun way to end a therapy session while working on visual motor skills needed to copy the butterfly forms.

There are so many ways to use this slide deck in therapy sessions!

More butterfly activities

Use the butterfly life cycle heavy work activities in the Heavy Work Cards to work on calming proprioceptive input.

Free butterfly therapy slide deck

Want to add these butterfly handwriting activities to your therapy tools? Enter your email address into the form below and you’ll receive this full slide deck to implement into therapy sessions.

Butterfly Writing Slide Deck!

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    Spring Fine Motor Kit

    Score Fine Motor Tools and resources and help kids build the skills they need to thrive!

    Developing hand strength, dexterity, dexterity, precision skills, and eye-hand coordination skills that kids need for holding and writing with a pencil, coloring, and manipulating small objects in every day task doesn’t need to be difficult. The Spring Fine Motor Kit includes 100 pages of fine motor activities, worksheets, crafts, and more:

    Spring fine motor kit set of printable fine motor skills worksheets for kids.
    • Lacing cards
    • Sensory bin cards
    • Hole punch activities
    • Pencil control worksheets
    • Play dough mats
    • Write the Room cards
    • Modified paper
    • Sticker activities

    Click here to add this resource set to your therapy toolbox.

    Spring Fine Motor Kit
    Spring Fine Motor Kit: TONS of resources and tools to build stronger hands.

    Grab your copy of the Spring Fine Motor Kit and build coordination, strength, and endurance in fun and creative activities. Click here to add this resource set to your therapy toolbox.

    Colleen Beck, OTR/L is an occupational therapist with 20 years experience, graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 2000. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. As the creator, author, and owner of the website and its social media channels, Colleen strives to empower those serving kids of all levels and needs. Want to collaborate? Send an email to contact@theottoolbox.com.

    This slide deck activity goes really well with these hands-on butterfly crafts and activities:

    Writing Trays for Handwriting

    Writing trays are sensory activities to teach handwriting

    Writing trays are a fantastic way to help kids work on handwriting, letter formation, and pre-writing skills.  There are so many benefits to a sand tray (or other sensory writing materials) in helping with letter formation and handwriting. There is a reason that writing trays are a popular way to encourage fine motor skills and an introduction to handwriting; They use a tactile sensory strategy to encourage movement in learning in a multi-sensory way.  Writing Trays make letter formation fun and meaningful in a play-based manner.

    Try this easy rice writing tray for a simple sensory writing experience.

    Writing trays are sensory activities to teach handwriting

    What is a writing tray?

    I’ve used writing trays in my occupational therapy interventions and with my own kids for years. Writing trays are such a powerful tool to add a multi-sensory component and moveemnt to learning to write.

    Writing trays are a dry or wet sensory material in a low tray or bin type of container. Children can use their finger or a tool such as a pencil, paint brush, or other item to draw, write letters, or form numbers into the sensory material.

    Writing Trays are a creative way to help kids learn to write letters, numbers, shapes, and pre-writing strokes.  There are a ton of different ways that writing trays can be set up and used in letter formation. Essentially, a writing tray uses a low container (or TRAY) and a medium that can be moved and shifted for writing.

    Sensory writing trays can contain sensory fillers of any type. If you are able to move the material in a way that letters can be drawn in the tray, then the sensory writing tray is a success. With a sensory writing tray, children can write letters independently or copy letters from a visual letter card.

    You can find them used in schools, clinics, preschools, early learning centers, and homeschool dinging rooms.  

    Writing tray sensory filler ideas for handwriting

    Writing Tray Sensory Filler Material

    Affiliate links are included in this post.

    What is in a Writing Tray? (Writing Tray Fillers)

    Writing Trays are filled with a filler that us manipulated and shifted so that letters or writing lines are visible.  Some ideas for filling a writing tray include the sensory materials listed below.

    Colored Sand
    Dyed Rice
    Dyed Rice
    Play Dough
    Other Doughs
    Slime (Check out the fun we had with slime in a writing tray!)
    Crushed Chalk

    While sometimes, a child can use their finger to form the lines in their writing tray, a writing tool is typically recommended. (More on that below.)
    Use writing trays for handwriting and letter formation

    Sensory Writing Tray Benefits

    Kids can use writing trays to practice letter formation, or pencil control and stroke sequence in writing letters.  Typically, they will be provided with a visual cue or cue card for copying the letters/numbers/shapes.  Other times, kids can form the letter/number/shape independently when prompted to make a specific letter. This is a great way to work on visual memory and independent letter formation.
    Be sure to verbally prompt children to form letters or build letters with correct stroke sequence.  This is essential for carryover of accuracy with letter formation in handwriting.  Otherwise, the child is simply playing in the sensory tray and not effectively using the writing tray as a tool for improved handwriting.  Encouraging the child who is learning pre-writing strokes and beginning letter formation can use a writing tray as a base for forming letters independently. Try using visual and verbal cues to promote correct letter construction.
    A few more must-dos when using a writing tray for addressing letter formation:
    • Make sure letters are not formed in parts.  In other words, don’t allow kids to make a circle and then a line to form an “a”. 
    • Make sure letters are formed from top to bottom. 
    • Realize that the motor plan to form letters with your finger is different than the motor plan to form letters with a pencil or other pencil-like writing tool.

    The nice thing about writing trays is that they are very versatile. Students of all ages can use writing trays to work on different levels of handwriting. Some ways to work on handwriting include:

    • Copying pre-writing lines
    • Copying shapes 
    • Letter identification
    • Uppercase letter formation
    • Lowercase letter formation
    • Letter copying
    • Letter writing from memory
    • Cursive letter formation
    • Cursive letter writing from memory
    • Word copying
    • Sight word writing
    • Spelling word writing
    Writing trays for handwriting, letter formation, and fine motor skills.


    Fine Motor Skills and Writing Trays

    A writing tray can be an effective tool in boosting fine motor skills.  Kids can use their finger to form lines and letters while strengthening finger isolation and separation of the two sides of the hand, including an opportunity for the ulnar side fingers to tuck into the palm for a more effective pencil grasp when writing.
    Children can also use a tool to form letters in a writing tray.  This can be an opportunity to develop pencil grasp.  However.  There are a few items that should be mentioned about using a writing tray to address pencil grasp and appropriate motor plan for letter formation.
    Writing Trays are a common tool.  But if you just place a writing tray in front of a child, you will likely see an inefficient writing activity.  You will probably see most kids forming letters with an awkward grasp on the writing tool, a flexed and deviated wrist, an abducted shoulder, and generally ineffective positioning.  

    Positioning absolutely carries over to letter formation and handwriting.
    A writing tray can be used to address pencil grasp and handwriting needs.  However, it is essential to use the tray in a proper manner.  There are a few ways to do this:
    • Place the writing tray on a slight slant. Try using a DIY slant board.
    • Use a low edged tray.
    • Use verbal, physical, and visual cues for appropriate positioning. 
    • Position the writing tool in your child’s hand with an appropriate tripod or modified tripod grasp.
    • Show the child how to hold the tool at the end of the tool as if they were holding a pencil.
    Once you’ve got your writing tray set up and positioning taken care of, it’s on to the fun stuff…making a writing tray!

    How to make a Writing Tray

    Making a writing tray to gain benefits of teaching sensory handwriting is easy. You can use materials found around the home. The options are limitless when it comes to writing tray combinations! You can create a writing tray in any theme or to meet any need. You’ll need just a few items: a container, a filler, a tool, and letter cards.

    Writing Tray Ideas

    First, you’ll need a low tray, basket, bin, or other container. We’ve used a variety of containers in our sensory writing trays. You’ll want a container that will hold the sensory writing material within its edges. In some cases, you can even scatter the sensory material on a flat surface like a table or a plastic table cloth on the floor. For example, we used dyed rice right on the kiddie picnic table for a pre-writing and hand strengthening activity.

    Kids will be using a tool or their hands to write letters and the sensory material can scatter. Some specific ideas include:

    • Kitchen baking trays (jelly roll pan or cookie sheet with edges)
    • Food storage containers
    • Melissa and Doug wooden puzzle boxes
    • Cardboard boxes cut low on the sides
    • 9×11 cake pan
    • Shirt box
    • Tray
    • Low basket

    Writing Tray Tools

    Next, you’ll need a tool to use to write the letters. This can be items found in the home as well.  Some writing tray tools include:

    • Finger
    • Eraser end of a pencil
    • Paint brush
    • Feather
    • Straw
    • Pointer stick
    • Stick from a tree
    • Craft stick
    • Chopsticks
    • Toothpick
    • Craft pom pom attached to a clothes pin

    Writing Tray Letter Cards

    Next, an important part of a writing tray is the letter model. As mentioned above, writing trays are great for copying pre-writing lines, shapes, letters, numbers, and words. 

    Cards can be used as a visual model for forming letters or words. Some cards include direction arrows. Others might include a sight word or spelling word for the child to copy. These cards can be positioned in different positions to address different needs. 

    • Position the letter cards right in the tray for near-point copying.
    • Position the writing tray cards in a vertical position near the writing tray to challenge vision shift. 
    • Hang the writing cards on a wall for far point copying to work on visual shift, visual attention, visual memory, and copying from a distance. 

    Writing Tray Fillers

    You’ll also need a sensory material to act as a filler. This is the material that the child will actually “write” in. When we say “write”, they are using the tool to form letters as the sensory filler moves in the tray. They will not actually write a letter with a pencil or other marking device. Sensory filler material can be as creative as you let it. Some writing tray fillers include these materials:

    Click each link for ideas on how to set up these creative writing trays.

    Dyed Rice
    As you can see, the ideas are limitless when it comes to sensory handwriting! Use a theme or materials that meet the needs of your child or client and are motivating and fun!

    More sensory Handwriting Activities

    Sensory Writing Bag

    Sensory Handwriting Camp at Home

    Teach letters with sensory textures

    Pencil pressure activities






    Colleen Beck, OTR/L is an occupational therapist with 20 years experience, graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 2000. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. As the creator, author, and owner of the website and its social media channels, Colleen strives to empower those serving kids of all levels and needs. Want to collaborate? Send an email to contact@theottoolbox.com.

    Lowercase Letter Formation

    lowercase letter formation activities

    Teaching kids to write lowercase letters can be a tricky task. Kids are exposed to different techniques depending on if they went to preschool or not. Some children pick up on lowercase letter formation easily and others struggle with reversals, placement on lines, and accurate letter formation. Today, I’ve got some tips and tricks to teach kids how to write lowercase letters and a tool that kids will love.

    Lowercase letter formation activities

    Lowercase Letter Formation

    Teaching lowercase letter formation can be fun! We’ve shared quite a few ways to use creative activities in teaching kids to write letters here on the website. One such activity is using a sensory means with baked cotton swabs.

    Like we talked about in yesterday’s play-based learning post, we know that adding movement, play, and a creative component to learning allows kids to engage with learning in a way that allows children to truly benefit from the learning experience.

    Ways to work on lowercase letter formation

    Using play and movement in working on letter formation takes just a little out of the box thinking. Here are some ways to teach letter formation with movement and play.

    Use a sensory writing tray to teach lowercase letters.

    Add movement! Add motor components to teaching letter formation as kids learn how to form big lines down, curves, and slanted lines. Letters can be acted out with rhymes or with themes like in the Lowercase Muscle Movers card set.

    Build lowercase letters with play dough, slime, wikki stix, yarn, or paper strips/paper curves.

    Trace and then re-trace the letters on a dry erase board. Rainbow writing offers several chances to practice letter formation.

    Trace letters with a finger. Then use finger paint, pudding, dish soap, lotion, or cooking oil.

    Want an easy, on-the-go tool for working on lowercase letter formation in a fun and engaging way? I’ve got a fun way to help…

    Fundanoodle Lowercase Letter Formation Kit

    Muscle Movers are a tools for working on letter formation with a focus on movement, motor planning, gross motor skills, and play. Heavy duty laminate cards with letters on one side, unique animals and activities on the other – the educational opportunities are endless. Use the cards for letter recognition and getting the wiggles out, add Wikki stix or PlayDoh to allow your Little Learner to use their fine motor skills to form the letters on the card and finally practice with the included dry erase pen.

    I Can Build Letters! Magnets (with a magnetic dry erase board)– This set includes hands on letter building with colorful lines and curves used to work on letter formation. These colorful, super-strong magnets allow help improve problem solving and fine motor skills while visually supporting letter formation. These can be used on any magnetic surface.

    I Can Build Letters guide– Use this guide as a companion to the I Can Build Letters! Magnets. Your child can start by building the letters on top of each guide on a regular surface, progress to a magnetic surface and then ultimately build letter puzzles with the color builder guide

    I Can Write Letters! Workbook– Little Learners start writing using Fundanoodle’s zip, zoom, and buzz terminology. With our grid paper, they learn how to keep their letter a consistent size and we introduce the letters from easiest to hardest to write to develop confidence. And each book includes a series of practice pages and a reward sticker system

    The Fundanoodle Letter Fun Kits come in a colorful zippered tote for learning on the go!

    More lowercase letter writing activities

    Some of the smartest and most creative folks I know are the readers of The OT Toolbox. I asked readers to tell me sensory strategies they personally love and use to address sensory modulation. Scroll through the comments…you might just find some new sensory strategies that will work for you! Hopefully we can learn from one another!

    Letter Reversals

    Letter Reversals…they are a major cause for handwriting concern by most parent’s standards. Do letter reversals mean dyslexia? And dyslexia means problems learning to read and write. However, there is much more to reversals than what meets the eye, and should be assessed before jumping straight to the conclusion of dyslexia. Here we are covering information about writing letters backwards and what is normal for letter reversals in development. We also have some great tips for addressing common letter reversal struggles and even reversal activities that can help with visual perception handwriting struggles. Read on!

    Letter reversals such as switching b and d or writing letters and numbers backwards can be a result of various things. Here is information on letter reversals.

    Letter Reversals Normal Development

    Reversals are age appropriate up until 7-8 years of age!

    That’s right! Letter reversals are normal up to a certain age range. And when kids write letters backwards it is actually typical development in handwriting skills. Working on letter reversals in occupational therapy (and other visual perceptual areas) can be a common occurrence for school-based OTs…but just because kids are writing letters backwards, it doesn’t mean there is a true problem indicating a need for intervention.

    It takes our brains that long to integrate all the skills needed to form a letter correctly and automatically during written expression. Skills needed range from phonetic awareness, ability to imitate pre-writing strokes, automation of letter formation, and higher level cognitive skills for multi-tasking.

    Some kiddo’s develop these skills faster than others. Some kiddo’s struggle with these skills and may receive support services such as occupational therapy or pull out services with their school’s reading specialist before age 7.

    Services provided before age 7 are typically preventative and because the child has shown struggles in the foundation skills needed for reading and writing, such as phonemic awareness, challenges with pre-writing strokes and shape formation (visual motor integration), poor fine motor skills, dominance concerns or underlying vision concerns.

    Letter reversals can be related to phonetic awareness difficulties.
    There can be a connection between letter reversal problems and phonetic awareness delays.

    Phonetic Awareness and Letter Reversals

    The current theory among the educational community is that reversals start with phonemic awareness. If a child is lacking phonemic awareness, they may struggle with letter identification and spelling needed for fluent written expression. Similar struggles may also be seen with numbers, resulting in a negative impact on math skills.

    In my clinical experience, I have found that children with high rates of ear infections and PE tubes (ear tubes) struggle with sound awareness. If the kiddo is unable to hear the sound of the letter clearly and consistently, it leads to poor sound awareness. I have also found that children with difficulties with attention and auditory filtering often pair the wrong letter sound with wrong letter. This is important to note in sessions as it may require remediation by a speech therapist or reading specialist if available. Here is more information and activities for auditory processing.

    While phonetics play a large role in reversals, many other foundational skills may influence whether a child will struggle with reversals or not.

    Letter reversals and a connection to hand dominance
    There may be a connection between letter reversals and hand dominance.

    Hand Dominance and Letter Reversals

    Hand dominance is typically fully developed by five years of age. Right at the same time most children are learning and mastering the formation of letters and numbers. It also coincides with the start of kindergarten, or formal education where children who are struggling may be noticed for the first time. Writing with both hands can be a common struggle and an indicator of hand dominance challenges.

    Children with handedness issues, whether it’s mixed dominance or delayed development of dominance, are more likely to struggle with left versus right tasks. This plays into reversal concerns as many of these children cannot consistently discriminate left from right, leading to b’s and d’s, p’s and q’s being flipped. Often times, they are unable to recognize that they have made the mistake as their brain is registering the letter as they meant it to be.

    VIsual processing plays a big part in letter reversals. Here's what you need to know.
    Visual processing plays a big part in letter reversals. Here’s what you need to know…

    Letter Reversals and Visual Processing

    Vision is can be one of the biggest challenges facing children who struggle with reversals. Chances are, they have had an underlying vision concern that goes unaddressed or unrecognized during the critical learning period of letters and their sounds.

    You will find much more information on visual perception in our free visual perception lab series.

    (Children in the U.S. typically begin to learn letters and sounds between 3 and 4 years of age when they enter preschool programs. Curriculums now expect children to know their letters, sounds and how to write them upon entering kindergarten.)

    Due to their vision deficit, the child may not consistently see the same image of the letter each time, or may not see the letter that is being taught due to “wandering” eyes or poor abilities to focus on the letter. The kiddo now has a poor foundation from which to build on, due to difficulties with recalling from their visual memory what the letter looks like, and pairing it with the correct sound.

    To add to vision deficits, vision is not just what we see, or how the eye’s work together. It is also a motor task of taking information in with the eyes and reproducing an image, or in this case, letters on paper. This skill is known as visual motor integration and also plays a role in reversals.

    Here are free visual perception worksheets that can address a variety of visual skills.

    Visual Motor Integration and Letter Reversals

    Visual motor integration allows us to write, draw and paint freely. To do all of these things, we go through a set development of producing pre-writing strokes and basic shapes in imitation to freely producing them from our memories and eventually becoming automatic. Here is more information and activities related to visual motor skills.

    Most children learn to imitate these strokes and shapes at a young age from top to bottom and left to right. However, some children do not learn it this way or their brains are not “wired” to follow this pattern of development. Children who deviate from this pattern may have difficulties with reversals as they struggle to learn and integrate letter stroke combinations in the correct order. When this happens, they struggle to write fluently and reversals may begin to appear.

    Signs of poor visual motor integration skills that could lead to reversals include:

    • Segmental Drawing—drawing a shape one stroke at a time instead of integrated
    • Bottom to top orientation when drawing
    • Right to left orientation when drawing
    • Difficulties crossing the midline during drawing tasks
    • Rotation of the paper to adjust for angle execution
    • Failed attempts to imitate basic shapes after the child has stated what the shape is
    Reversing letters can be related to an executive function difficulty.
    Writing letters in reverse can be a trouble with executive functioning skills.

    Executive Functioning and Letter Reversals

    Executive functioning skills refer to our higher level thinking that includes attention, multi-tasking and memory, among many other skills. Writing requires all of these skills to be working at their best. If a child is struggling with any of these skills, they may demonstrate reversals and poor overall handwriting.

    Reversals and poor handwriting may be the result of the child being unable to recall the strokes of the letter, the sequence of the strokes, what the letter looks like, where to start the letter, how big to make the letter, what each letter sound is, how to spell a word and complete their thought. Oh, and lets add in that they have to remember how to hold their pencil correctly. For a kiddo who is struggling, this is a CHALLENGE.

    There are so many more things that go into writing that may lead to reversals then what I have listed, but are too many to list out.  The main concept of executive functioning is that if the child cannot make it all work together, from fine motor to phonemic awareness to visual motor, they are more likely to struggle with reversals in their work.

    Try these letter reversal interventions to help kids who reverse letters and numbers.
    Try these letter reversal strategies…

    Letter Reversal INterventions

    It is important to recognize that reversals may be the sign of underlying deficits with foundational skills and should be addressed when they are noticed. The sooner that these underlying deficits are addressed the better off the kiddo will be. Once a child has had a long enough time period to practice incorrectly, it will be that much harder to break the “bad habits” and correct the reversals.

    Addressing some of the other co-existing issues discussed in this article can be a start.

    Address the motor planning in handwriting necessary for letter and number formation. Strategies that develop motor planning skills utilizing multi-sensory approaches can help with letter reversal. When kids learn and practice letters with visual, auditory, and kinesthetic sensory channels at the same time, the weaker channel may be reinforced (Berninger, 2000). Strategies such as

    Work on visual perception with toys and games, and activities to address specific visual perceptual skills or visual motor skills.

    Use cursive writing in some cases. Here are creative ways to teach cursive and our entire cursive writing series.

    Gain a better understanding of visual processing and all of the “pieces” of the vision puzzle that play into letter reversal and other concerns by joining thousands of other therapists, teachers, and professionals in the Visual Processing Lab.

    Use this Vision Screening Tool to identify and address specific vision concerns such as letter reversals.

    Try some of these activities to address visual motor integration and eye-hand coordination.

    Have concerns? Talk to your child’s teacher or occupational therapist to address your concerns.

    Work on letter reversals and get a better understanding of vision, visual perception, and visual motor skills in the visual processing lab.
    Work on letter reversals and get a better understanding of vision, visual perception, and visual motor skills in the visual processing lab.

    Contributor Post by Kaylee Goodrich, OTR: Hi Everyone! I am originally from Upstate N.Y., but now live in Texas, and am the Lead OTR in a pediatric clinic. I have a bachelors in Health Science from Syracuse University at Utica College, and a Masters in Occupational Therapy from Utica College. I have been working with children with special needs for 8 years, and practicing occupational therapy for 4 years. I practice primarily in a private clinic, but have experience with Medicaid and home health settings also. Feeding is a skill that I learned by default in my current position and have come to love and be knowledgeable in. Visual development and motor integration is another area of practice that I frequently address and see with my current population. Looking forward to sharing my knowledge with you all!

    Rainbow Writing Letter Formation Activity

    Rainbow writing

    This quick and easy rainbow writing activity is an easy handwriting activity to working on letter formation and letter construction.  Rainbow writing handwriting is a strategy to work on letter formation as a multisensory learning activity for kids. This handwriting activity is an Easy Handwriting strategy that can be so helpful in teaching letter formation and pencil control.   

    Color mixing rainbow writing activity for helping kids with letter formation

    What is Rainbow Writing

    Rainbow writing might be a handwriting activity that you’ve heard of before. Many times, we see rainbow writing as an option for practicing sight words or high frequency words, especially as a multi-sensory learning options.

    Typically, you’ll see rainbow writing as one way that kids can practice writing words and letters: They are asked to write the words in a color of the rainbow and then trace over those letters with another color, thus making a rainbow of letters.

    Rainbow writing is a great strategy for practicing handwriting! Kids get multiple attempts at forming letters, working on motor planning, pencil placement, and repetition (practice) that very much plays a part in handwriting legibility.

    But there’s more to rainbow writing than incorporating colors and sensory experiences into handwriting. Color Mixing Rainbow Writing is a creative way to help kids learn the right way to actually form letters, because the task allows children to self-correct their written work right in the moment. They can see where their letter formation has veered into poor letter size or placement. Rainbow writing then becomes a strategy to improve motor planning and pencil control as well.    

    Rainbow Writing for handwriting legibility 

    Rainbow writing is a way to work on legibility of written work.

    Helping kids write letters with correct letter formation is essential for legibility, especially as kids get older and are required to produce more written work at a faster rate.  Consider the high school student that needs to rapidly jot down notes.  If letters are formed from bottom to top or in sections, their speed and legibility will drastically drop. Sometimes it is speed OR legibility  that suffers when a child needs to produce more amounts of written work in a specific period of time (i.e. copying down notes as a teacher rattles off details.    

    The younger student will be affected by inaccuracies in letter formation as well. Around the third grade, students are responsible for jotting down their homework assignments into a planner.  

    When the child is bombarded by classroom sensory input (pencil sharpeners, students, desk chairs moving, hallway distractions, coughing classmates…) difficulties with letter formation can result in illegible homework lists and trouble with re-reading the assignment list when the student attempts to start on homework.  

    Rainbow Writing Color Changing Activity

    Affiliate links are included below.

    In the handwriting activity shared here, we are taking rainbow writing a step further.

    This letter formation activity is really simple and a LOT of fun.  Kids can work on typical motor pattern of letters by exploring color mixing.  You’ll need just three markers for this activity.   

    Red, Yellow and Blue markers  are all you need to work on letter formation with color mixing.  We used dollar store markers, but also tried these washable markers and the activity worked too. 

    For this activity, you’ll need to first write the letters that you are working on in one color. Then, using another color, trace over the letters to create a new color.  Mixing the yellow and red made orange letters and mixing the yellow and blue markers made green letters.  

    Kids can work on letter formation but experience the color changing of the markers when they write over letters in different colors.

    Some different options to try with this rainbow writing activity:

    • Use just 2 colors so kids can try mixing two primary colors to see what the colors make
    • Not when the colors do not change: did they marker lines go off the lines? Can letters be written again or can the student try again to make the colors change?
    • Some kids may benefit from a model that is written in one color by the teacher, therapist, or parent. Then, the student can try to keep their letters on the lines to ensure proper size, spacing, and formation
    • Try making color coded messages to one another using the color changing activity
    • Work on phonetic awareness, by making vowels or phenomes one color and consonants or letter blends another color.
    Rainbow Writing Activity with Color mixing for handwriting.


    Work on letter formation with this activity by providing kids with the amount of assistance they need to form letters correctly.  At first, they may need verbal, physical, and visual cues to form letters correctly.

    Encourage students to form the letters from top to bottom and in the correct way.  When they re-trace the letters with a second color, be sure they are forming and tracing the letters correctly.    

    When kids trace over the colors, they will be forming letters slowly in order to trace over the letters and ensuring the colors mix.  

    By tracing over the lines to form letters, they are building the typical motor patterns needed to write the letters correctly and efficiently.  

    We worked on cursive letters with this activity, but it would work very well with printed letters, particularly letters that are typically reversed or confused like “b” and “d’.  

    Color mixing rainbow writing activity for helping kids with letter formation

     Looking for more creative ways to work on handwriting?  First, be sure to join the Sweet Ideas for Handwriting Tips Facebook Group.  There will be a lot of resources and tips shared there.   

    Next, check out these creative ways to help kids work on their written work:  

    Functional Handwriting Practice Ideas

    What is Visual Spacing

    Visual Tracking Tips and Tools

    Handwriting Spacing Tool and Spatial Awareness Tips and Tools

    DIY Dry Erase Board Handwriting Travel Kit

    Colors Handwriting Kit

    Rainbow Handwriting Kit– This resource pack includes handwriting sheets, write the room cards, color worksheets, visual motor activities, and so much more. The handwriting kit includes:

    • Write the Room, Color Names: Lowercase Letters
    • Write the Room, Color Names: Uppercase Letters
    • Write the Room, Color Names: Cursive Writing
    • Copy/Draw/Color/Cut Color Worksheets
    • Colors Roll & Write Page
    • Color Names Letter Size Puzzle Pages
    • Flip and Fill A-Z Letter Pages
    • Colors Pre-Writing Lines Pencil Control Mazes
    • This handwriting kit now includes a bonus pack of pencil control worksheets, 1-10 fine motor clip cards, visual discrimination maze for directionality, handwriting sheets, and working memory/direction following sheet! Valued at $5, this bonus kit triples the goal areas you can work on in each therapy session or home program.

    Click here to get your copy of the Colors Handwriting Kit.

    Colleen Beck, OTR/L is an occupational therapist with 20 years experience, graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 2000. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. As the creator, author, and owner of the website and its social media channels, Colleen strives to empower those serving kids of all levels and needs. Want to collaborate? Send an email to contact@theottoolbox.com.

    Letter Matching Glitter Manipulatives for Learning

    These DIY letter manipulatives were very easy to make.  The kids and I have been playing with these letters for a few weeks now.  We love playing with learning elements and we’ve done a lot of letter identification activities.  This one was fun to make and for playing!

    DIY letter match manipulatives with glass gems.  These are great for letter identification, matching, memory games, pre-reading.

    This post contains affiliate links.  See our full disclosure here.

    This letter learning activity was a lot like our DIY color glass gems.  They are so much fun for sorting, patterning, play on the DIY light box.  We used a similar manner to make these glitter letters. These large glass gems are great for play and learning.  We’ve written letters and shapes on them, and painted them, created art with them.

    If you have’t made your own DIY decoupage, this is one thing you need to try.  We use this stuff all the time.

    We used glitter that we received from http://www.craftprojectideas.com.  

    Paint the flat side of the glass gems with decoupage.  Cover with glitter.

    Shake off the excess glitter.  Coat with another layer of decoupage.

    Stick on letter stickers and cover with another thin coat of decoupage.
    Let those beauties dry.

    When the letters were dry, we played letter memory, sounded out the sounds of the letters, and matched the letters.  This is a great way to play and learn letter identification, letter sounds, pre-reading, visual scanning skills, and more.

    We haven’t tried putting the letter manipulatives on the light table yet, but I think they will look great!

    More posts you may like:


    We played our way through the Kindergarten year as Big Sister explored sight words, decodable reading, counting, composing numbers, and more.  These are our favorite Kindergarten activities:

    Kindergarten math and reading sight word activities.

    Creative Kindergarten Math Ideas

    Creative Kindergarten Math ideas

    Teaching Math Through Play

    Counting Nature

    Snowball Fight Math

    Snowman Math

    Learning Math Through Play

    Kindergarten activities for math and sight words.  These are great ideas for homeschool or home supplement.

    Ideas for sight words and reading activities for Kindergarteners

    Creative Kindergarten Reading Activities for Kids

    Roll, Pop, Pull Game
    Decodable Reading Activity

    Tips to Make Reading Fun

    Sight Word Crayon Rubbing

    Sight Word Scooping

    Sight Word Ping Pong

    Creative Sight Word Games

    Sight Word Scavenger Hunt

    Beginner Sight Words Letter Match

    No Mess Window Sensory Spelling

    Sight Word Sensory Bottle

    Sight Word Sensory Bin

    String Sight Word Games

    Sight Word Manipulatives

    Sight Word Sticky Board

    Sight Word Bottle Cap Stamps

    Sight Word Bottle 

    Cap Stamps

    Decodable Reading with Nature Letter Formation Fun

    We play outside every single day.  Getting outdoors is so great for kids.  And for mama who needs some fresh air and sun light to make it through another round of feeding the littles.  Seriously. They are ALWAYS hungry!!  This letter formation and decodable reading activity was fun and a good way to slow down in the great outdoors while working on reading skills.
    Big Sister is a new reader and Little Guy is starting to show some interest in sounding out letters and little words.  We used something we have in great abundance to work on letter identification, letter sounds, and decodable reading…sticks! 

    Work on letter formation and decodable reading using nature. From Sugar Aunts

    Decodable reading activity for new readers

    With a handful of twigs ready, I showed the kids how to make letters on a shallow basket.  We started by me making the words and sounding out the words with decodable reading techniques.  I made the first letter in the word and said “sound”, as they made the sound of the letter “T”.  Next, I made a letter “A” and said, “sound”.  They made the aaaa sound.  Then, I said the cue, “Blend it together”.  They blended “T” and “A” together and added the “R” sound.  Big Sister is familiar with this technique from Kindergarten.  Little Guy repeated Big Sister, but soon got the hang of it. 

    We tried it with a few more words before Big Sister got in on the fun.  She made a few words of her own and Mom and Little Guy decoded the words.

    Letter formation Activity

    Little Guy worked on letter formation with the sticks.  He really got into this.  While he built the letters, we talked about the sound(s) of letters.  Letter “A” makes a short and long sound. 

    Building the letters with sticks is a fun pre-handwriting activity for new writers.  Talk about the lines needed to make each letter.

    Looking for more letter formation and decodable reading ideas?  Follow along on our handwriting or beginning reading Pinterest boards.