1/10/11

Penmanship and Courtesy

Practicing Penmanship and Courtesy
I was thinking about my to do list the other day when I realized I haven't yet sent out any Thank You cards to family and friends who gifted us with something over the holidays. I have always had to work extra hard to remember this common courtesy as it doesn't come naturally, although my mom is pretty darn good at it.

Connect the Wonky Lines
Getting a simple 'thank you' in the mail is one of the easiest ways to make someone feel appreciated but it is probably one of the arenas where politeness is fading in society in general. In order to help myself stay accountable and pass this habit along to Sebastian I decided to go the creative route rather than making it a chore. He's been needing to practice writing his letters so what better way to kill two birds with one stone than make connect-the-dots (dashes) thank you cards!

Sebastian's Font
I'm pretty sure this isn't a new idea since it's such a simple one but I wanted to share it anyway in case any of you have need of something easy, quick, and slightly educational! I just free handed the words 'Thank You' onto some thick paper from my sketchbook after folding them in half and told him his job was to find the letters by connecting the dashes. I was expecting a little bit of resistance but he jumped right in. Maybe I should turn this into a font. ;)

Practing Penmanship and Courtesy
Look, mom! His grip! (We've been practicing.)

Practing Penmanship and Courtesy
I love how focused he was on this little task. He ended up finishing two before he decided he wanted to practice drawing transformers instead and I didn't push it. I figure if we do a few each day it's good practice and we'll cover everyone.

Practing Penmanship and Courtesy
I loved to draw when I was a kid but haven't necessarily done any drawing in front of Sebastian other than random coloring and painting sessions in the past. Brett found a rare How-to-Draw Transformers book at the library that we currently need to return (uhh....) that has been really fun. Sebastian gets so nervous about messing up so I'm trying to remind him he has lots of paper to practice on and that everyone has to practice to get better at anything. Since we've recently had freezing temps and a bit of snow it's been a great indoor activity.

It's Snowing!

On a completely different note, I'd love to know a more accurate head count over here as far as how many followers are following, etc. not only through Google Reader but bloglovin in order to give the best stats to my sponsors each month. So, if you'd like to humor me I'd love any regular readers who haven't already followed to add me to their Google Reader or bloglovin list. I've added the option to follow with bloglovin below and the option to update with Google reader on the left sidebar. I truly appreciate it!

If you've got kids or a background in education, what other techniques do you use to help kids develop their handwriting? I'm all ears!

xoxo,
Rachel

42 comments:

Molly said...

I've been following via blogger/gmail, but signed up for bloglovin since I've been meaning to do it anyway! What a darling idea for thank you cards, I'm sure it's going to mean much more to your loved ones than any generic card :)

ringmaster said...

we do that to! and we also write a word with a yellow hi lighter and pip traces it!!!

Linnie Joy said...

So cute...

miss james said...

adorablest!

beka*b said...

I have used this free font in the past for handwriting practice: http://www.searchfreefonts.com/free/national-first-font-dotted.htm which saves having to write lengthy numbers of dots/dashes by hand :)

I think any medium that can be drawn with is good and fun to practice with, not just pens or pencils. As for ways of doing it - I think the only way is to keep practicing writing names and letters - maybe get him to write the names of the Transformers, or other characters he loves?

bethie said...

I am a kindergarten teacher. To practice our letters at school we use...SHAVING CREAM! It cleans the tables and everyone has a blast!

Aimee Smith said...

I am a school teacher and a few of my favorite go tos for handwriting are non traditional. Spray shaving cream on an old plastic lunch tray or platter and let him write with his finger then "erase" with his hand. Messy but he will love it! You can do the same thing with sand or rice. Or give him a clip board and have him go on a letter hunt in your house and write down any letters he finds, sounds simple but kids will do anything if you give them a clipboard! If you happen to have a stand up glass shower, steamed windows at bath time are perfect for practice too!

Jess Gatlyn said...

awwwwwww....i LOVE this!

harmonybatham said...

Because we were home-schooled we always wrote thank you notes! it was handwriting/spelling/etiquette all in one:)I still write them-its been thoroughly ingrained and this year my 3 yr old "wrote' them too:)

shutterbean said...

following you with google reader :)

i love this post! My mom was a stickler for thank you notes, and I want my son to be schooled on it too! Great idea with connect the dots.

sarah stupendous said...

I taught Pre-K for 2 years, and I second the tracing-the-highlighter trick! I think that you are definitely on the right track by not forcing him to do it all at once, that way it won't become a chore for him. Too cute! :)

Rubyellen said...

i am horrible at this common courtesy! the fact that you are even thinking about it makes you so great at it! i am just plain bad!

Beth said...

I am an elementary art teacher...I love Ed Elderly drawing books for step by step drawing. As for writing, my daughter's school has lamented statements like "happy birthday, thank you, and I love you" on card stock. They use vellum or tracing paper to place over it and write. She now asks us to write words out and she copies them underneath.

Jenni Austria Germany said...

this is adorable!

SugarBear Diaries said...

I'm a regular!

Silke said...

How lovely to see Sebastian on the blog again. He is such a cute little fellow and I love it how he holds his pen! Just pressed "follow" to make sure you know I am a big fan :-)

Apple Scrapper said...

I am a kindergarten teacher and I swear by the program developed by occupational therapists, Handwriting without Tears, the kids love it! I most recommend the chalkboards, workbooks and the wooden pieces.

http://www.hwtears.com/

Emma said...

Great idea Rachel! Thank you notes are also top of my list for today x

Stefan, Sarah and Lukka said...

I am a hard-core "Thank you" mama over here, since my own mother pounded it into me! Since having kids we've had them have a hand in it too, either decorating the card and now, with my son who is 3 and learning letters, writing his name.

We use these to help teach the letters, as they trace them and get a feel for the way to 'write them' (I believe they're a Montessori technique). Then we just practice. It's probably my son's least favorite thing, but hey, with writing about 10 words a week, I'm happy!

(http://www.etsy.com/listing/61504166/sandpaper-letters-uppercase-mounted-on?ref=sr_gallery_3&ga_search_query=sandpaper+letters&ga_search_type=handmade&ga_page=&order=&includes%5B0%5D=tags&includes%5B1%5D=title&filter%5B0%5D=handmade)

Sarah M

Emily said...

I teach K/1 and Zyia Learns Letters is another great font to download for free that has the dots outlined already to trace. This is a great idea on your part! -e

amanda jane said...

this post is so cute! I love the look of concentration on his little face.

tammy said...

To encourage both drawing and writing, consider getting a giant white board. I know chalkboards are the thing people go to now days, but we've done both chalk and white boards with our kids and the white boards just end up being more practical. (3 kids on a giant chalkboard can make quite the mess) We've had a large (3' x 4') board for 3 years now and it gets used daily. It also saves a lot of paper.

BlondeShot Creative said...

I LOVE this idea as a way for kids to get involved in writing thank you notes that are too young to actually write them. It saddens me that "thank you" cards seem to be a lost courtesy these days.

bird and tree said...

That is a great idea! I am a preschool teacher and one of the things we do is lots of play dough activities....I know you're thinking for writing? But YES!!! This activity helps strengthen and promotes muscle coordination in little hands to help them as they begin to write (and use all those new hand muscles). Good luck Sebastian!

margie c said...

Aw, he is so adorable sitting there concentrating so hard! Great job :)
I have 2 boys, ages 4 and 7, and I have to admit, their attention span is very short - we use mini chalk boards to practice our letters! And I just learned that using something small to write with (golf pencil size) helps them get comfy with their grip - so we have broken all of our pencils, crayons and chalks in half, and I have seen such an improvement in their handwriting, especially in my 7yos (he's a lefty).
Oh, and I've been following through my google reader ;)
Happy Tuesday!
hugs, margie

Tamara said...

i'm a follower now! love your blog and this post is most precious! way to go with the thank-you notes at such an early age...such an important part of receiving a gift. (and something i can use some practice with!)

Casey said...

I love Thank You notes, but I really need to get better at getting them done! I always forget :(

thanks for pointing me to bloglovin'! looks like a good site

SarahAnn said...

Teaching kids to write thank you notes is so important--and I think this is one of the cutest ideas I've seen for it!

joyfullyC said...

Hi Rachel, I'm a preschool teacher

you can use fatter pencils/crayons, best if they are the training pencils with triangular grip, so it's easier for his little fingers. let him do pre-writing practices, like tracing straight lines, curves, zig-zags... when he mastered them, he can proceed with tracing the actual letters. and start big, then slowly reduce the size as he gets older. so that it's not too tiring for his fingers. :)

Avoid markers as much as possible for the start as he needs to learn to exert enough strength in writing so as to have a better grip. Pencils and crayons are still the best.

play with dough - the kneading, rolling, pinching and all help develop his fine muscles. which will definitely aid in his writing.

the key is to develop his muscles first. when his fine muscle are ready, learning to write will be a breeze!

hope that helps!

Three.20 said...

great idea :) He looks so cute with that furrowed brow of concentration! jaja

nataliexmarie said...

I am a teacher and I have typed out a page of the students' name in ZB Manuscript with lines (found here: http://www.abcteach.com/font_details.php). Then I laminate it and have the students trace it with dry erase marker. You can also do this with the alphabet, sight words, etc.

Jen said...

I used to teach pre-kindergarten and I would write out words, names, or letters with a yellow marker and have the kids trace them. You can also put sugar in a cookie pan and have them write letters in that with their fingers.

alaina said...

Love your blog! Thanks for the reminder, I will now be making thank you cards with my kids.
My son is 3 and to practice drawing, every morning we will read a story from his Bible and then I have him draw a picture of what we read about. He has a special journal that he draws in and he looks forward to it each day.

Melissa Haworth said...

Ok, since you asked on the handwriting thing as the kid of a pre-school teacher and the parent of a kindergartener I'd just suggest you write it out Thank You rather than THANK YOU. The all caps writing seems to be a giant pet peeve of all the kindergarten teachers I've ever met and they seem to spend forever teaching kids lower case (in particular with the child's name). On the other hand, upper case are much easier to trace since all straight lines and looks cooler on the card (so take me with a grain of salt and in the good spirit this 'advice' is intended :)

Ok, and I'll finally put on you on my google reader if that helps. I just check in periodically the old fashioned way :)

lingering daydreams said...

Great idea! I love that it is good practice (writing and thoughtfulness!) which results in an adorable card. Thanks for the inspiration!

Jenna said...

I love the intense and focused look on your sons face while tracing/writing his thank you. so stinking cute.

Coming from an artist the BEST book to get Sebastian is called "Beautiful Oops"! I found it by mistake while looking for a book for my cousins baby shower well. It has now become my book to give anyone and everyone!

I use to nanny and I'm still really close with the family... while visiting and exchanging Christmas gifts I told the olderst now 11 that i wish I had found this book when she was a kid because like Sebastian she would get frustrated over mistakes and would try to hard to make every craft or piece of art 'perfect'.


www.JustCallMeJ12.blogspot.com

Kristin Ann said...

I work with preschool children. One activity kids love is to fill a Ziploc bag with shaving cream and then seal it tightly. They can practice writing on the bag with their fingers as the lines they make disappear. It’s fun and less mess for you.

Also, to get a good grasp while writing...have a crayon breaking event. Can you imagine? Breaking crayons on purpose? Coloring with broken crayons forces kids to have a better grasp.

Have fun!

cedargirl said...

I use http://www.startwrite.com/
it allows you to use many different styles from manuscript to the Handwriting Without Tears font. You pick the line style, font size, shade depth, solid or dashed,... you create the wording to be done. It's awesome. You make your own sheets and print them out! My 6 year old uses it to write ut his poems, tooo cute. My 9 yr old is now using it to write cursive snail mail letters. Hope that helps.

Christie and Nikkie said...

I LOVE this! I will have to try this with my girls!

Maayan said...

when i was little i llloved drawing, my mom used to give me see throgh papers (not too thin though) so i can choos any drawing i like from books etc and copy the outlines, then recolor it... i could do that for hours

Jess @ Cards for Kiva said...

I am such a lazy blog reader, I was just skimming to look at pictures and noticed the finished product. I thought "that font is so cool", then I actually read the post and realized how the card was made. What a great idea!

shelley said...

we happened upon some really awesome wipe off boards when my daughter was only 2. it had the alphabet, upper and lower case, along with 0-9 numbers to trace. she would literally sit for hours, over and over again, writing, wiping off and starting again. she's only in kindergarten, but was writing and reading over 18 months ago...i believe boards are made by "board dudes"