Writing Letters With Fingerpaint

My favorite way to teach letter formation is with finger paint! I like D'Nealian or Modern Manuscript printing. The schools in my area use this type of printing. It has a nice flow and makes transitioning to cursive easy for children.

Writing with finger paint is easy, fun, and a little messy. You'll love it! Tape a large piece of freezer paper with the shiny side up to a table or wall. Then glob enough finger paint on the paper to make a thick layered writing surface. Smear the paint and smooth it out. Click here for a video of my son getting his paper ready. Use the index finger of writing hand to write like a pencil. The white of the paper becomes the line you make.

I think teaching correct letter formation is important from the start. My oldest son started writing his name in preschool. He started making his lowercase "r" from the bottom. He also started his lowercase "m" and "n" from the bottom. Even after I taught my son the right way to form the letters, his hand and brain reverted back the way he had practiced.

Grouping letters by where they start and teaching ones that are similar helps teach proper formation quicker. In this video I show forming the letters a, c, d, and g.

Make it productive by only teaching as long as a young child has patience. (3-5 minutes) Give a child a little creative time. Allow mixing more paint, writing more letters, or making designs. I suggest cleaning up after 10 minutes. The paint will start to dry out. Sometimes my children saved the last letters, words, or designs they created.

I like Crayola Finger Paint, but it can get expensive.
Here's a link for homemade finger paint.

Writing can be a way to get a child ready to read. As a child writes a letter, say the sound for a letter and encourage the child to voice the sound while writing a letter.

Here's a link with some helpful advice for parents teaching handwriting.

What style of printing and cursive will you teach your child?
There are many popular types of handwriting. I have shown D' Nealian or Manuscript in my videos since that is the type taught in our schools. If you are homeschooling, you can choose your favorite type of handwriting to teach. I suggest finding out what type is taught in the school your child will attend if you are not homeschooling.
D' Nealian
Handwriting Without Tears

Check out these resources to help you teach printing and cursive:

D' Nealian

Handwriting Without Tears

Once a child has learned to form letters correctly, any natural writing task becomes practice. Extra practice and reteaching can be done with fingerpaint, magna doodles, white boards, or sidewalk chalk. Learning to write can and should be fun.

I've created a video showing how to form letters in the printing manuscript style. I'm selling these for $10 for a limited time. Use the PayPal link at the bottom of my blog to order yours. Shipping to the continental US is included in price.


Rachel said...

love your collection of tips and links! Feel free to add QM to your collection! Let me know if you do (or if you have a similar post) and I'd love to link back to you as well! I love building up the early childhood education community!

Polly said...

I hadn't thought of using finger painting like this for teaching letter formation. I'll have to try it with my 3 year old...and my kindergartener could use a little practice too. Thanks for letting me know and leaving the nice comment on my blog. :)