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Language

Language Writing

How to introduce young children to the process of writing

By Anitra

This post may contain affiliate links.  Please see the disclosure policy for more information.

For young children, learning to write can be a drudging process.  There are many things that go into teaching young children to write.  Can you just give them a pencil and let them figure it out and explore writing on their own?  Sure you can.  But unfortunately, most children will wither stray away from writing letters or get tired of writing the same letters over and over.  By all means, it is a good idea to give children writing tools and let them creatively “write” things on their own.  At some point, there will need to be some sort of formal introduction of the writing process for children, so that they are able to form the letters correctly and legibly.

There are many activities that young children can engage in as a way of introducing them to the process of writing.  The activities listed below are not an all inclusive list of activities; it is just an idea of what a teacher or mom can do to help introduce children to the world of writing.

Before introducing letter writing and formation, you can provide opportunities for children to trace shapes or objects.  These shape tracing boards have been laminated and the children use a washable marker to trace the shapes.  Once complete, they use a wet sponge and wipe the boards clean. 

Start by having them use fat markers, fat pencils, and fat crayons.  For their small hands, it will make it easier in the beginning for them to grasp and hold the writing tool.  Also, providing young children the opportunity to create and write creatively is important.  Provide various writing tools and blank paper, so that they can practice making shapes; and eventually letters on their own.

Another good tool to use are stencils.  Larger stencils of various shapes, animals, and letters are good for writing practice and for pencil grip functions.  The small letter stencils provide more of a fine motor practice of writing and still allows the children the freedom to explore creatively and independently.

Once they have had practiced using the tracing boards and stencils for awhile, they may be ready for name tracing cards.  Of course, many factors determine if a child shows readiness for tracing their name.  Each child progresses at their own pace, and each child should be assessed on a individual basis.  Name tracing cards are sentence strips that are cut in half, that have their first name written on them.  I then have cut strips of tracing paper that I paper clip onto their name card.  The children trace over the letters in their name, and can take the tracing paper home.  This is especially effective for children who have difficulty holding or grasping a pencil or for those who may not have strong fine motor skills.

Once a child has developed strong fine motor skills and correct pencil grip, they can then be introduced to what I call their Name Paper.  It is created with a font software in a computer.  In the beginning, they trace over their name in print, and practice a few lines on their own.  I eventually add their last name, still using print.  Once they have mastered the correct formation of all of the letters, I introduce their first name in D’Nealian, and then finally adding their last name.  If they master D’Nealian, I introduce them to cursive.  Using the D’Nealian font makes an easier transition into teaching cursive.

 

 

I have used, and continue to use these activities and others in my Montessori classroom. These tips and activities can help aid in the successful introduction and implementation of writing for young children.

Anitra

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Language Reading

Reading in a Montessori Primary classroom

By Anitra

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read the disclosure policy for more information.

Reading is one of the most important skills learned in life.  Everything in our world revolves around reading, and the importance of teaching the fundamentals of reading is key to a child being a successful reader.  The foundation of an excellent reading program must be implemented from the beginning stages of learning and teaching sounds.  In a Montessori Primary classroom, this is done with the phonetic sound of each letter, as well as the ending sound for “x”.  I know that many people believe that teaching young children to read at a young age is not age-appropriate or may not even be possible.  I am here to tell you that it is indeed possible, and that teaching a young child to read is age-appropriate when the child shows signs that they are interested and have been exposed to an environment that is rich in language.  In Montessori, it is customary to follow the child’s natural development and direction.  Don’t get me wrong, teaching young children to read can be a long, detailed process.  The process of reading is one of my favorites!  The look on their faces when they know that they have learned to read is priceless…

Bob Books

 

I have a complete reading program that I have developed over my years of teaching.  I use the infamous Bob Books, which you can find almost anywhere these days.  There are many different sets of Bob Books; I use the Beginning Sets 1 to 5. I also use a record keeping form that I created that lists all of the books, a space to write the date that they check it out and return it, as well as a space to include new sight words that are introduced throughout the books.  (There will be a subsequent post related to  sight words).  Each new reader takes a letter home regarding the policies for reading.  The letter goes over the “Reading Folder”, the reviewing of sight words, and where to return the books each morning (The labeled “Book Bin”).  Each child also has a “Reading Folder” with their name on it and it is used to take the books back and forth each day. I created the reading folders from inexpensive folders that have a zipper close, and labeled them with each child’s name using a label maker…VERY simple and cheap, but efficient. 🙂

 

 

 

 

Reading is such a big deal, and a HUGE accomplishment.  In my classroom, when a child reads their first Bob Book, we stop what we are doing.  I ring the bell, and announce that child x has read their first Bob book.  Then I have the entire class clap for them!  It makes them feel so special, and shows them how proud we are of them as a class.  It also sets a bar in the classroom that can be reached and is motivation for them.  Any way that I can make them feel special, I do.  After a child has completed all five sets of Bob Books, we again stop what we are doing.  I ring the bell, and announce that they have read all five sets of Bob Books; another amazing accomplishment.  The most important thing about reading is to make sure that the foundation is set firmly so that a child will not experience failure. Succeeding in reading is not a small feat, but it is a rewarding one!

Anitra

 

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Language

Why I think that D’Nealian is superior to classic print

By Anitra

This post may contain affiliate links.  Please see the disclosure policy for more information.

When I first started my Montessori training, I was trained using print.  This was at least 17 years ago, and I believe that most companies that sold Montessori materials only had the option of either print for the Primary and maybe cursive for the Elementary.  For most of my early years of teaching, I used print and was fine using it.  But I noticed early on that many children had difficulty in distinguishing between the “b, p,and d.  Depending on the manufacturer, the “q” sometimes was printed with a slight “tail” on the end, and sometimes it was not.  They basically were the same letter, just positioned differently.  As I kept teaching, I learned that it was becoming more common that the children in my class struggled with differentiating between those particular letters.

 

I was introduced to the D’Nealian style when my oldest daughter entered into the public school system for first grade.  It was interesting at first; I wasn’t sure how I felt about it; especially since I was only accustomed to using print.  I quickly found out the reasoning for using D’Nealian…it was a precursor to cursive.  It was still years later before I actually decided to take the chance and change from using print and switch to D’Nealian.

It was actually not until about six years ago did I make the full switch to using D’Nealian.  I was working at a small school, and the classroom language materials were all D’Nealian.  The sandpaper letters, moveable alphabet, and the font on the nomenclature (3 part cards) were all D’Nealian.  I figured that there was no better time than then to give D’Nealian a try.   I absolutely LOVED it!!!!  I noticed right away how easily the children confidently noticed the differences between the “b, p, d, and q”.  They no longer struggled on deciphering between those letters; and yes, it truly makes teaching cursive easier.

 

Shockingly, public schools NO LONGER teach cursive!!! I found this out when my youngest daughter was in public school.  My oldest daughter learned how to write in cursive at school, but my youngest did not.  It is really weird…how are our children supposed to learn how to sign their name if they are not taught how to write in cursive? I took that as a sign that I definitely needed to incorporate D’Nealian style into my classoom.   And I did…and the rest is history…

I use print sandpaper letters as a “first” lesson to learning the sounds.  I have created Sound Boxes; small boxes that have five sounds in each box with two pictures for each sound; using D’Nealian.  I also use the D’Nealian sandpaper letters once they have had lessons on at least four to six sounds.  Sometimes, it is easier for a younger child to recognize print than D’Nealian, so I use them in the very beginning stages of teaching sounds.  I also use the D’Nealian Moveable Alphabet.  This initial introduction makes the transition into teaching cursive a fairly easy one, considering the D’Nealian letters already have a slight slant to them, and many have the “tail” i was talking about earlier.  So yes, from my experience,  D’Nealian is superior to classic print.

 

Anitra

 

 

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