Learning Our Abc’s with Gross Motor Writing

In this post, we will learn about how to Teaching the Alphabet With Skywriting and Rainbow Writing. Let’s continue where we left off with teaching the alphabet. So far we have talked about using Magnetic Letters and how they are a much more concrete learning method. Children don’t have to be able to hold a pencil to be able to make words with Magnetic Letters. Their possible lack of Fine Motor control is not a big issue. So using Magnetic Letters should be your go-to method when teaching something new and when teaching very young learners.

But our end goal is for them to be able to write their letters, name, and words! If we start by using their large muscles, we can practice the movements necessary before their fine motor skills become refined. Let’s find out how to teach the alphabet with Skywriting and Rainbow Writing using their Gross Motor skills!

Let’s Continue Teaching Their Name

As I said before, one of the most important words to your child is their name! They own that word. It’s how people identify them. If you missed Step 2: Teaching the Alphabet – Part 1, go back and check it out. It really is good stuff. OK. Here is our list from last time. Today we’ll learn how and why to do Skywriting and Rainbow Writing!

Different ways to teach The Alphabet and their name

  • Magnetic Letters
  • Skywriting
  • Rainbow Writing
  • Letter Bead Necklace
  • Alphabet DIY Book

“This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase using one of those links.”

SkyWriting

Since Fine Motor control is a later developmental stage, I like to start with some Gross Motor control activities. These are especially good for children who are a bit delayed in their Fine Motor or for smaller children that just want to learn how to write their name. This Kinesthetic Learning Style really helps kids that are not auditory learners. Using all different learning styles together really strengthens the learning process and meets the needs of all children.

Things to remember when skywriting

  • Make It Backwards
  • Make It Big
  • Auditory Directions
  • Write On Their Back

Make It Backwards

If you are teaching skywriting to your child, you need to keep in mind that if you write correctly while you are facing them it will be backward for them. That will not be helpful! To fix that model you either need to demonstrate backward or you need to stand with your back to them.

Make It Big

In order for skywriting to be beneficial for that Gross Motor control that we are targeting, everyone needs to write very large in the sky. Have them reach their pointer finger up high so they are using their entire arm while writing. Demonstrate the correct letter formation while you are telling them ‘how’ to draw the letter.

Auditory Directions

I give auditory directions for each letter as we are creating it. The initial directions include very specific directions that are later abbreviated when the student has the form more under control. I use house analogies to explain where to start and where to go when writing. A tall letter starts at the ‘Ceiling’, a half-sized letter starts at the ‘Counter Top’, the bottom line is called the “Floor”, and a letter that goes below the line goes to the “Basement”. Giving a visual really helps kids understand auditory directions. An example for Capital A would be – “Start at the Ceiling and slant down to the Floor Left, Back to the Ceiling and slant down to the Floor Right. From the Counter Top, make a line to connect both sides.” That turns into – “Start at the top, Slant Down, Slant Down, go Across”.

Write On Their Back

Another useful tool while teaching Skywriting is to stand behind the child and trace the letter on their back while you’re giving auditory directions. Making it slowly and very large gives additional tactile input to the writer. When they’re ready you could play a game called Mystery Letter! Once they know the letter formation, you can trace a letter on their back and have them create the letter in the sky and tell you the name of the letter. It’s a nice non-paper assessment.  

Rainbow Writing

Rainbow Writing is such a fun way to practice actually writing their name on paper! You will need a large piece of paper. I prefer a large sheet of 12 x 18 inch white construction paper that you could post on the wall or frame afterward, but you could use copy paper if that is all you have. Freezer Paper would also work if you use the non-coated side for writing. You might have to tape it down if it rolls up. Bigger paper allows them to complete the task successfully even if they still have weak Fine Motor control.

Directions

To begin, write all the letters of their name as neatly as possible and as large as possible on the paper in black sharpie or marker. Next, have your child trace over them with the colors of the rainbow. Whether you are using crayons or markers, start with yellow since it will look dirty if you write with it over any darker colors. I usually have them write the colors from the lightest to the darkest in rainbow order. You can use crayons, markers, or colored pencils, but keep in mind, if they are small with weak Fine Motor control, the larger the writing tool the better. Those Jumbo crayons for little kids are the best for anyone 5 and younger.

Directionality

In order to support correct directionality, I always put a Green Dot for where I want them to start and a Red Dot for where I want them to end. Bad habits that are formed during beginning writing practice tend to stick with kids for quite a while. It’s always easier to teach them the correct way the first time then trying to correct the way they figured it out on their own later.

Expectations

This will not be easy for them at first. Writing letters to a beginning writer is similar to you trying to replicate Japanese Calligraphy. At this stage, they are drawing the lines and curves in much the same way they would draw a sun or a house for a picture. Their lines will probably be shaky and segmented. It will take time for them to make the entire stroke without picking up their writing tool.

Next Steps

As they get better at writing the letters in their name with Skywriting and Rainbow Writing, decrease the size of the paper and the size of the letters. Change the solid lines of their name that you write to dotted letters. Make the dotted letters lighter each time, until they are writing their name without any support. Unless they only have a first name, teach them the rest of their name the same way. There are never very many kids in 1st Grade that can write their last name. The ones that can are very proud of their achievement. (That also gives you more letters that are known to make words with!) Cheer them on and practice, practice, practice!

Here are a few of the resources that I mentioned. I must say that I have never seen a Crayola Marker Box that had 40 different colors inside! I want that for myself! Wow!

Hands-On Learning

None of those ways to learn the alphabet needed a workbook or worksheet. All of those ways are memorable and build on each other. When teaching the alphabet, you will not work on one way until it’s mastered. You will work on all of these ways at the same time… just maybe not all on the same day!

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