Differentiated Letter Writing Practice for Kindergarten & Pre-K
Kindergarten students enter school at various ability levels. Some enter kindergarten already knowing how to write their names while others have not yet mastered holding a pencil correctly. The goal is to provide a positive initial handwriting experience for all students as they learn to write the uppercase and lowercase letters of the alphabet. As a kindergarten teacher I had problems finding a set of practice pages and activities suitable for all the developmental levels of my students. I decided to create my own. Each page is designed to give children practice with writing skills and beginning reading while simultaneously enhancing their fine motor skill development through coloring, tracing, cutting, and/or pasting. These pages are differentiated for the varying ability levels of students and present letters and writing in a variety of formats.
The large “bubble letters” can be used to create an alphabet display in your room, as play-dough mats, for finger tracings, and also for hands-on activities. Below is an example of a hands-on activity in which students glued feathers on the Fs. They could also glue fish (Goldfish crackers) on the Fs, dip their finger in paint and put fingerprints on the Fs, or draw faces or flowers on the Fs. These activities help students associate the letter sound with the letter and familiarizes them with the letter’s formation.
The smaller bubble letter pages can be used with students who’s fine motor skills are not quite developed enough to have a lot of control or are not quite ready to use a pencil. Students trace inside the letters and then name and color the pictures. Students may also enjoy making rainbow tracings of the letters (using different colored crayons to trace the letters as many times as they wish). Writing/forming the letter over and over while saying the letter helps them seal it in their visual and kinesthetic memory.
The most important part is that students hold the crayon or large pencil with the correct grip. Incorrect pencil grasps need to be corrected early because they are much harder to unlearn if they become a habit. If you notice a child using an incorrect grasp – an option is to change the tool to change the child. For example, if you have a child that fists a pencil or crayon, give them a small pencil or crayon or crayon rock that is too small to fist so they are forced to use 3 fingers. You can also have them hold a cotton ball or pom pom while writing which forces them to use 3 fingers. For additional ideas on helping students develop fine motor skills for writing click here.
As students start to feel comfortable forming letters they can use this page where they first trace the letter a few times and then write their own on a single line. Have them say the letter and its sound as they are writing and tracing. They can color the picture when they finish writing. An option to encourage self-evaluation and assessment is to have students find the very best letter they made and circle it. Ask them why they think it is best. You may then choose your favorite and tell them why you think it was best (this can be done with the next page as well).
The lined page can be used when you feel the student has enough handwriting control to enjoy the challenge of writing within lines. Students can trace the letters and then write their own and color the pictures.
The letter hunt pages require students to use their visual discrimination skills to find the featured letter among similarly looking letters. It helps them focus on the exact formation and appearance of the letters. You can require them to use one color for uppercase letters and another for lowercase letters. If you are studying a color, you may have students use a crayon of that color. If you are studying shapes, you may have students put a circle, square, etc. around the featured letters. You may also have students mark the letters with bingo counters or dot painters.
The last page helps students with letter sounds as well as the fine motor skills of cutting, pasting, and coloring. There is a large image that begins with the featured letter as well as smaller images along the bottom. Students name each picture and cut out the pictures along the bottom. They then paste the pictures that begin with the featured letter onto the larger image. This gives them a visual representation/reminder of the letter sound. These pages may be bound together as a book for reference at later times.
The complete set of differentiated alphabet pages (6 pages for each letter, 156 total) is available here.
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