Part of my structured literacy approach in the classroom is having students practice tracing letters. To become writers, my students need to learn how to form letters, and that can be hard work!
Fine Motor Skills
First, to be able to write, I ensure that my students have a lot of fine motor practice. I use a variety of activities to ensure they are able to hold a pencil and form letters.
I try to make my fine motor activities fun and engaging and incorporate them into different areas of the classroom (like in my sensory bin). Developing these skills is very important and should be embedded in your programming daily.
Getting the right letter formations takes a lot of practice – including explicit instruction! Whenever I am teaching a new letter during my phonics routine, I make sure to talk about how to make the letter, and we practice as a whole group.
I’m also making sure I am giving them lots of opportunities to practice making the letter through hands-on practice – not just tracing letters. I’ve used sand trays, play dough, loose parts, blackboards and whiteboards, popsicle sticks and any other fun materials I can find!
There are also opportunities for me to explicitly practice writing letters with my students. This can involve tracing letters while I ensure that they are properly forming them (starting at the top of the letter, going in the proper direction, etc.).
I find that when students have the opportunity to trace letters, they are also forming their spatial awareness about how big the letters should be and are developing their ability to write in a line. This becomes important when they start writing words and sentences.
I typically review a few letters at a time – I don’t want to overwhelm my student by doing too many letters at once. I would rather spend time working on ensuring proper letter formations rather than just writing the whole alphabet.
Letter Tracing Book
I put together this book on a ring so that I would be able to take it out and practice letter formations with my students quickly and easily. It’s reusable so I can use it all year with all my students, and it is not overwhelming with too much information on each page.
It’s great to have at the ready for small or guided groups. You can check it out here: