Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Letter Writing Practice

These summer days have afforded me the opportunity to reflect on years past in my Montessori classroom.  Lately, I have been analyzing trends in the the progression of Language lessons as they pertain to individual students as well as the class as a whole.  For example, my students typically LOVE working with the Sandpaper Letters, but sometimes begin to loose interest beyond the Moveable Alphabet.  On one hand, this makes it challenging to identify when to present writing practice on the chalkboard and other subsequent lessons.  On the other hand, the children are excited to begin writing practice on chalkboards, but I feel that they need more opportunities for practice before moving to writing on paper.  Usually, their interest wanes with the chalkboards before they are ready for paper.  As a result, the paper for writing practice loses its intended purpose as it becomes "doodle paper."  Let it be known that I believe there is nothing inherently wrong with doodling - in fact is a necessary pre-writing skill.  In the context of the progression of writing lessons with the Montessori materials, however, I believe the writing paper should be reserved for writing - the child who is doodling can be guided to an art activity or other lessons which foster that intuitive movement.  In the classroom, I have found that writing practice can easily fall to the wayside.

As a response to these observed trends, I decided to make a few materials to "fill in the gaps."  One of the first materials I've made to allow more opportunities for self-directed letter writing practice are these letter strips:
In the making (again, at my dining room table!):  Letter writing practice strips before lamination.  
These will be introduced to a student who has already practiced writing on the chalkboards and some  paper work.  I simply feel this type of activity provides a meaningful point of interest (it's something different and new), while allowing more independent practice for forming letters.

Along the same lines, another place where I see a need for more practice is the transition from writing letters to writing words and connecting letters.  The following set of strips allows the student to practice writing words. 
A small selection of three letter phonetic word writing strips, one for each vowel, to begin practicing writing words and connecting letters.
This set of strips will be introduced a child who has not only worked with the Moveable Alphabet, but also has had plenty of writing practice on the chalkboards, papers, and the letters strips (above).  This idea came to me as I was making the letter strips, so I am approaching this aspect of writing practice as somewhat of an experiment and will assess the impact on learning once I'm able to make observations of the materials in use.

And while I was at it, I went ahead and made some strips for name writing and number writing practice, too!
Strips for name writing practice.  These are longer than the letter strips to accommodate longer names and repetition next to the names.

 Number writing strips.
The number writing strips will be for the student who has been introduced to the Sandpaper Numbers and has had practice writing numbers on the chalkboards and paper.  

Hopefully, these materials will allow ample opportunities for independent writing practice while maintaining interest.  I also have plans for some additional writing activities which I'll be sharing in the future.

Now, I need to go stock up on laminating sheets - I think I'll be needing quite a few...! ;)

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