Differentiated Handwriting & Alphabet Practice for Kindergarten & Pre-K
Preschool and kindergarten students enter school at various ability levels. Some enter school 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 pre-k and 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.
I created differentiated letter writing cards as well as letter pages. I use the cards as visual aides and guides for hands-on writing activities and the letter pages.
I made 2 differentiated sets of cards to accommodate all the ability levels of my students.
Set 1: Letters with Directional Arrows – These letter cards have directional arrows and numbers that show students how to write the letters.
Set 2: Plain Letter Cards – These letter cards can be used for letter recognition activities, as manipulatives, or with tactile activities. They can also be used with students who already know how to write the letters and do not need the directional arrows or numbers.
I use the cards with manipulatives in addition to the letter pages. This gives me a wide variety of letter practice methods to use with my students. Having many different options for practicing letter writing enabled me to not have to use the same method every day and find methods that work for all of my individual student needs.
I choose the card that best suits each group of students with which I am working. Some of the manipulative activities that my students have enjoyed are salt trays, play dough and play dough mazes, dry erase markers and boards, writing outside with sidewalk chalk and paintbrushes and water, gel bags, salt puffy paint, building letters with blocks, textile letters.
Each letter 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.
A few more examples are shown below. Students used dabbers to make dots on the Ds (they could also color or paint dots on the Ds, draw designs on the Ds, draw diamonds on the Ds). Students used pom pom painters (clothespin and cotton ball) to paint Ps (they could also put patches on the Ps using cut fabric squares, trace the Ps with a pencil or pen). There are a number of different activities to do with each letter.
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.
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.
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 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.
If you would like to use these differentiated alphabet letter cards, handwriting pages, & letter pages with your students they are available here.
Here are a few comments from other teachers who have used these alphabet pages and cards in their classrooms:
“So great for the variety of skill levels in my room.” – Megan S.
“Excellent package for working with the alphabet. Love the ideas that went with the worksheets. Thanks.” – Beth S.
“This item is PERFECT for my primary autism class. Most are learning the alphabet and this is great to use along with hands on activities.” – Sharon B.
“Thanks a bunch!!Now I don’t have to search for letter of the week activities for the whole week!!!” – Cassie B.
“My favorite thing about this is how it will address all my learners. Thank you!!” – Nanette F.
“Great for differentiation for some of my firsties still working on letters!” – Amy D.
“I use this daily for letter of day activities!” – Kayla R.
“Love the differentiation!” – Kristin W.
“These are great!! Love the variation and that they can be used with all skill levels!”
Using my alphabet cards and pages will help you differentiate the level of instruction for each child. What if I told you that you can also quickly and easily differentiate the letters students are practicing? You can find out which letters are least or most known in your class with just the click of a button. There’s also a way to find out specifically which letters each individual child knows or doesn’t know. Want to know more?
The solution is ESGI! ESGI (Educational Software for Guiding Instruction) is an online software assessment system that helps teachers save time on their one-on-one assessments with emergent and nonreaders.
With hundreds of preloaded assessments, you can quickly test students on letters, sounds, sight words, number concepts and more.
After you assess students, ESGI creates reports with real-time student data, saving you time and helping you differentiate. Just take a look at this bar graph analysis feature.
You can click on the green bars to show a list of students who answered the question correctly, and click on the grey part of the bar to see which students answered incorrectly as well as which students have not been tested. This will help you decide which of my alphabet cards or pages to print and use!
There’s even the option to print parent letters and individualized practice cards. Now parents can support your alphabet instruction at home.
I encourage you to watch this short video to find out more. You can even sign up for a FREE 60-day trial to see if you like it. Be sure to use promo code A1165 so you’ll save $40 off the purchase price if you subscribe.
You may also like:
How I Motivated Students to Learn Their Alphabet Letters with Brag Tags / Rewards & Books
Fun Alphabet and Handwriting Practice
How to Use 2 Classic Card Games for Differentiated Alphabet Practice
This post was shared on Once Upon a Classroom’s Summer Share & Prepare Linky!