Almost every preschool website contains its own version of tracing worksheets. Almost every dollar store and superstore has for sale a "letter workbook." And because of this, many have the idea that this is the method kids should use to learn to write their letters and numbers. But, if you have ever tried this approach, you know it can be frustrating for everyone involved. While tracing worksheets have their place and can be a great learning tool for some children, through occupational therapy I was taught a process that has achieved better results with our kiddos.
While working with our Bubs' therapist, I learned a lot about teaching our kiddos how to write their letters and numbers. I learned that the key is in the process and that each level is a building block for the next level. In this method, tracing worksheets are not used until after the child has learned the proper formation of the letters and numbers. And even then, I had to discover the "perfect" tracing worksheets. Beginning writers need larger letters and thicker lines to learn how to correctly form letters and numbers. Adding start and stop dots along with spacial boxes guides a child through this process. Combining this sequence with the Letter Formation Chants and Number Rhymes will help your child succeed!
The ABCJLM Handwriting Process involves five steps. Each of these steps are devleoped in the ABCJLM Curriculum.
1. Holding the Pencil Correctly - 2 Year Curriculum
2. Pre-Writing Worksheets - 2 & 3 Year Curriculum
3. 3" Tactile and Written Letters and Numbers - 3 & 4 Year Curriculum
4. ABCJLM Letter and Number Progression Worksheets - 4 Year Curriculum
5. ABCJLM Tracing Worksheets - 5 Year Curriculum
Step #1 - Holding a Pencil Correctly
Handwriting is one of those topics that creates an array of emotions. Even professionals don't agree on the procedure of teaching and practicing. Add in the vast difference of development among children the same age and what a mess we all face.
No matter which side of the fence you live on there are two absolutes. The process of teaching handwriting should not be a negative experience for a child. Secondly, the personality and development of the individual child needs to always be forefront. No matter what other children the same age are doing, remember the child before you is unique and special.
There are several pencil grip stages of development before the child masters the three-finger grasp that we all think of. Time and progress in the child's fine and gross motor coordination will automatically move the child through these stages.
Half way through the 2 Year Curriculum, activities are provided to help the child hold a pencil correctly. IMPORTANT: At this point in a child's life, some children will not be ready for this activity and that is okay. Be careful not to frustrate the child while doing this activity. No matter how much you work with the child, if the fine and gross motor skills are not at the level they should be, your child will not be able to properly hold a pencil. If this is the case, continue to work on fine motor activities (small muscle movement like in the fingers) and gross motor activities (core strength) to increase the child's motor control.
When the child is ready, teach the child to hold the writing utensil with his/her thumb and index finger while supporting it on the middle finger. I tell the child to make an alligator mouth with his thumb and index finger to pinch the pencil. Then the alligator goes to sleep and rests the pencil on the middle finger. Lori, on our ABC Jesus Loves Me Facebook Group shared this similar idea, "Lay a pencil in front of the child with the point facing toward her. Ask her to pinch it with her thumb and forefinger about 1/2-3/4" from the end. Pick it up and flip the pencil back onto her hand. Support the underside of the pencil with the middle finger." Both of these techniques work with right and left-handed children. Short pencils and broken crayons are best to start with if the child does not use proper grasp.
Click for tips on teaching a child how to correctly hold a pencil.
Step #2 - Pre-Writing
Since all letters and numbers are made of five simple movements, a child must first be able to hold a pencil and follow a straight, diagonal, or circular line.
To begin teaching this process, use a yellow marker or highlighter to draw 3" vertical lines. Move to horizontal, diagonal, and circles as your child is ready. Add a green dot for "go" and a red dot for "stop" in the correct spots. Help the child place her pencil on the green dot, draw along the yellow, and stop at the red dot. An alternative options is to purchase or print off the worksheets.
Click on the links below to print the worksheets. Be sure to print the worksheets in color.:
Straight Lines Worksheet
Horizontal Lines Worksheet
Diagonal Lines Worksheet
Drawing Lines Review Worksheet
Circular Lines Worksheet
The ABCJLM Pre-Writing Worksheets are available to purchase in the 2 or 3 Year Workbooks, or in the Handwriting Workbook.
Step #3 - 3" Tactile and Written Letters & Numbers
Upon mastered the basic lines and circles, the child is ready to begin Step #3. This portion of the process can be done using tactile and/or written letters and numbers. The purpose of this step is for the child to learn the correct formation.
Tactile letters and numbers are part of the 3 Year Curriculum and are a multi-sensory way of the child learning letters and numbers. Sight - the child sees the letter. Touch - the child forms the letter on the textured form. Hear - the child says the name of the letter while tracing it.
In writing, use a thick yellow marker or highlighter to draw 3" tall letters or numbers across a horizontal paper. Begin with just one character per page at a time. Add a green dot at the starting point of each character and a red dot at the finishing point.
Most letters have more than one starting and ending point. Only draw the first starting and ending point. Once the formation is mastered, take away the yellow line, red dot and then finally the green dot. Progress to smaller and thinner lines. Be sure to say the Letter Formation Chants and Number Rhymes as you form the characters. These will assist the child and help him remember the correct formation.
The first half of the 3 Year Curriculum focuses only on the child tracing tactile letters and number with her index finger. In the Week 20 Lesson Plan, the child slowly begins to write her name using capital letters only. Follow Step #3 to aid in this process.
Step #4 - ABCJLM Letter and Number Progression Worksheets
Once the child is able to correctly form the 3" characters with the green starting dot, place the characters on the classic tracing lines. Now the child is ready to practice keeping the letters and numbers uniform.
Almost every number and letter in the alphabet is similar to another letter or number. The Letter and Number Progression worksheets combine these similarities to make handwriting easier. Beginning with the simple line and progressing to more difficult strokes, the worksheets increase in difficulty allowing the child to ease into the harder forming letter and numbers.
Letter Formation Chants and Number Rhymes have been written on each of the worksheets to help the child learn how to correclty form each. As my kiddos write their letters and numbers, I say the chants along with them.
I have color-coded the lines to help in the formation. The middle line is green since many lower case letters start (go) on the middle line and end on the bottom (red) line. The top line is blue (sky). Draw the characters in yellow with the added the green and red dots for each letter and number. To finalize this step, take away the yellow line first, red dot second, and finally the green dot when the child is ready.
Line Characters - l i L I F E H T t 4 - All include horizontal or vertical lines
Angled Line Characters #1 - X x V v W w N M - Two worksheets to work on diagonal line letters.
Angled Line Characters #2 - 7 Z z A Y y
Circle Characters - 0 Q o l0 - Compare how the zero and "O" are the same as an oval or circle
Bubble Characters - b p 5 B 3 D 2 - These letters contain big and little bubbles.
Uppercase "C" Characters - C G O
Lowercase "C" Characters - c a d g e q
Hook Characters - j g J f q - Hook letters formed in different directions
Hump Characters - r n m h
Kick Characters - P R K k
Snake Characters - s S 8 - Use the Number Rhymes to help write the "8"
Characters - U u 6 9 - Left over letters that didn't really fit anywhere.
Step #5 - ABCJLM Tracing Worksheets
Step #5 places all of the letters and numbers in alphabetic and numeric order and begin placing the letters into words.
All of the ABCJLM Tracing Worksheets are available in four ways to help children improve fine motor skills and handwriting. The below list is ordered from most difficult to easiest.
1. Letters or Numbers - These are the most-basic worksheets with a place to copy over the letter or number and then write it.
2. With Boxes - Beside each letter or number is a box that gives the child a specific space to write the letter.
3. With Green Dots - The green dot shows the child where to begin the letter.
4. With Green & Red Dots - Inside each box is a green and red dot. The green dot shows the child where to lay the pencil while the red dot means stop. Best printed in color but can be printed with black dots if the colors are no longer needed.
Click on the below links to print or purchase in the 4 Year and 5 Year or Handwriting Workbooks:
The second set of Handwriting Worksheets are called "Writing Worksheets." These worksheets - adapted from Mrs. E - practice correctly writing the letter, drawing words that begin with the letter, and finding the letter in words. These worksheets are available to print or purchase in the 5 Year Workbook and Handwriting Workbook.
Blank Tracing Line Worksheets
Start with the wider lines and progress to the small lines. These worksheets are available to purchase in the 4 Year and 5 Year or Handwriting Workbooks and to print.
Blank Tracing Line Worksheet - Wide
1" Blank Tracing Line Worksheet - Medium
3/4" Blank Tracing Line Worksheet - Narrow
Stetro Grips are very good to enforce a good pencil grasp when writing.
Click for more handwriting suggestions.
Pre-Writing Worksheets can also be helpful. These worksheets teach a child the concept of tracing lines. I would suggest that you trace the lines with a thick yellow marker (to make them wider) along with adding the green and red dots at the beginning and the end.
Lil Bunny Hops
Preschool Learner Pre-Writing Worksheets
Printable Worksheets - Links to free printable worksheets and sites that allow you to create your own handwriting worksheets
Downloadable Font - Download handwriting font to your computer. This allows you to make your own handwriting worksheets.
Disclaimer: I created these worksheets from ideas that I learned from my son's Occupational Therapist. These worksheets are the copyright of ABCJesusLovesMe and JLM Media, LLC and may not be copied or reproduced for any situation other than an immediate family or with a current License.