Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Number-Letter Formation and Art

I find that many times poor writing habits are formed long before children enter into Kindergarten (public school) and even there they aren't being correct consistently (I mean corrected during the process...yes, their paper is being corrected) and really then the habits are unintentionally being reinforced. I'm a bit of a stickler about handwriting.  Do you have to be?  That's a personal opinion because reality is...by the time you hit middle school/high school you really have your own way of writing.  But I prefer my children and students to start with the good firm foundation in correct penmanship.  And that starts with developed fine motor skills and moving to forming shapes, letters and numbers correctly.  Just like letters, you usually start numbers at the top also.  So that's a good starting point.  With the number zero and letter o, they start off center just a tad and go up and around to the left.  Those are the two hardest for the children to grasp and poor habits form quickly!  If a child can write an o or a zero correctly then many of the other letters-numbers will fall into place.  I often see children using more strokes then necessary when making a letter or number.  This is very typical until the correct habits are in place.  So, though we want them to explore with writing, do set a time aside where you are focusing on correct formation.  It should be only an activity that is only a few minutes.  Working frequently for small amounts of time works better then sitting for one long session here and there.  Here is something we did yesterday to reinforce correct formation for numbers and letters.


We created number cards, up to ten.  This pattern was from the Mailbox publication titled Numbers for Little Learners.  It was an accordion book pattern.  I chose to print them on cardstock to make number cards.  I like them because they are large and they have a description of how to write the numbers.  The verse isn't what we typically use and some day I might make a set of cards that use the song we use but no time presently.  I also like that the number four is in the typical style that I teach.  That is sometimes hard to find! 
Children 1) traced the number correctly with their finger.  2) traced the number correctly with a marker.  3) traced the numeral correctly with liquid glue.  4) when dry children will have a neat feeling, colorful number card to trace correctly as many times as they want.  :-)  So, for the sake of the activity, they traced 3 times in a row correctly.  If you wanted an additional tracing you can use sandpaper or tactile number cards to trace initially.


We created a "Ff is for fingerpaint" page.  This was not art.  This was a letter formation activity.    "Writing" in sensory material vs. using a crayon/pencil all the time will keep interest and often that sensory component helps ingrain the formation in their mind.  We simply used black fingerpaint on colorful fingerpaint paper then wrote Ff's in the paint.  Now if it was a young preschooler or a soon to be Kindergartener with minimal experience in letter formation I would have stuck with just the uppercase letter F.  But this crew has a good foundation already...so we added the challenge of a lower case f.  We use the descriptive words and order of Handwriting Without Tears as that is what our school uses and, personally, I like it myself!  Just a reminder that how I teach a child to read and how I teach a child to write is different.  :-) 

My tactile cards and a sticks and curves set also help reinforce the letter formation. This pattern is from www.confessionsofahomeschooler.com and are called the alphabet builder templates.  I've made several of these types of sets.  I find the most durable and kid-friendly are the ones made out of craft foam.  You can use this template to make it out of craft foam if you wish or just cut out (laminating for durability if you desire).

And then our Matisse work.  Change of plans.  Planned on finishing up on Wed. but we have additional children joining us on Wed. and so I do not have enough wall space for 6 artists.  :-P  So my boys finished up their work today and the other child will finish his on Wed. when there is a few minutes (somewhere we'll squeeze it in!)  And so we'll do paper cut outs on Wed. as it is more easily adaptable (and cheaper) when there are some drop in visitors for the day.   Here are
Aaron and Caleb's and another child's paintings. They loved the idea of a large "canvas".

www.theartgarden.info for parent/child videos regarding Henri Matisse

Some tidbits of information we shared-gleaned:
1) pictures of Henri Matisse's work through the years.
2) that Henri was born more then 200 years ago.
3) Henri lived in France (and Aaron will be taking this a step further and doing a little research on France sometime this and/or next week)
4) Henri Matisse did different types of work.  Painting, sculpture, drawing, and paper cut outs.
5) Henri's paintings were VERY LARGE.  We measured one out and they were at awe that it was bigger then one of our kitchen walls.  (Thus the ladder in the first picture-and of course-we painted on large paper...Aaron did the standing on the stool.  I decided against the stools with the other kiddos.)
6) Henri used a lot of colors in many of his paintings and sometimes they were not realistic.
7) Henri was ill and was unable to paint as he did because it was so physically demanding (one of our pictures shows him older and in a wheel chair) so he later created paper cut outs and had assistants to help him. 
8) Henri often had a person in his work.  (A heads up, like many artists Henri had many nude pieces of work...because I work with more then my own children and they are preschool age, I did not include the nude pictures.  If it was just my own kids it may be a different story but I'll let you make the decision.  You may wish to look through the sites prior to letting your child browse them if this type of thing bothers you and/or you are not ready to discuss them matter-of-factly yet.  :-))
9) Henri must like peaches.  (Had to include that one!  LOL  One child's thought.  Yes, It seemed like there were a few still-life pictures with peaches in them.)

All for now! 

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