Looking for fun ways to teach your toddler to write and get a jump-start on those essential preschool and kindergarten skills? Check out these 20 fun writing activities that even the littlest ones can master with ease!
If you’re thinking “why would you need to teach your toddler to write? Aren’t they a little young for that?” I know I thought it too…at first. But consider this: toddlerhood ranges from 12-36 months. At 36 months (during which point most of us just say “my child is 3,” because 36 months sounds a little odd!), they become preschoolers. Preschoolers, my friends, need to learn how to write at least a little. Why? Because in just two quick years, they become kindergartners! Once upon a time, kids learned valuable skills like writing, their ABCs, and their numbers during that first year of school. Now, kids are expected to know the basics coming in. Laying the groundwork during the toddler years doesn’t sound so crazy after all, does it?
So just how DO you teach toddlers to write when they’d probably rather spend their days rolling down hills and stuffing their pockets with mud? By having a lot of patience and making it fun, that’s how. Read on for 20 tips and activities to help get your tot writing in no time. Will he be penning Shakespearean sonnets by kindergarten? No. But he’ll have the essentials down pretty well, and really, that’s enough.
20 Fun Ways to Teach Your Toddler to Write
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- Start With The Basics–do not try to teach your toddler to write their name right away. Let them start out with scribbling, then move onto lines, and then shapes. A good idea is to draw lines yourself and have them either trace them or try to copy them. The same goes with simple shapes.
- Different Foods to Write In–sounds interesting doesn’t it? Feel free to help your toddler write by spreading out various foods like mashed potatoes, pudding, edible finger paint, oatmeal, the list goes on. They’ll have fun ‘writing’ in their food with their fingers and learning at the same time.
- What to Write On–chalkboards with bright colored chalk are ideal, as well as a Magna Doodle, and Etch-A-Sketch or even dry erase boards. This way they can write in the same place over and over again. Of course, the old fashioned paper is always a good idea.
- Let Them Scribble–do not feel that you need to rush your toddler into learning their new skill. Children all learn differently than others, and rushing your toddler into learning to write can turn out disastrous and they may lose interest real fast! Let them learn at their own pace.
- Paper and Pencils–if your child has been practicing on various objects like sand, dirt, the wall (cringes), or other objects that aren’t paper, maybe it’s time to let them try their hand with paper and pencils, even markers and crayons. Be sure to urge them to start simple with shapes and lines, should they want to go further, encourage them to do so.
- Letter Toys–most every home you’ll walk into that has a toddler will have some sort of letter toy in it. What I mean are things like tiles, fridge magnets, stencils, blocks and more. Get some of these for your toddler, it will help them start to recognize letters more and they can practice with them also.
- Washable Markers–every parent dreams of washable markers, so it’s best to most definitely invest in some, especially the non-toxic ones because we all know where that marker is going to end up, right in the mouth. Grab up some online practice sheets to go with the markers, maybe even some sheets with different sketches on them to make it more fun and appealing to your toddler.
- Make it Fun–I know, we’ve mentioned the F word a few times, and well, here you go again…make it FUN! If you want to correct them if they mess up while practicing, it will no longer be fun for them. Do not punish your child if the happy face they were trying to draw for you looks more like a clown’s melting face–so be it. Let them try and try until they get it right, do not push them or that melting clown face could take on a more sinister look.
- Rewards and Prizes–I know what you’re thinking, and no these are not to be given in the form of a bribe. The prizes and rewards can be given when your child successfully draws that line right, or traces that letter properly. Let them know that when they have done a good job, they will get rewarded for their efforts. If you offer me a chocolate brownie ice cream cake complete with whipped cream and a cherry, I’ll get that novel finished overnight! You understand where I’m coming from, make it so they enjoy learning and writing. Of course, your rewards don’t have to be loaded with sugar. Never underestimate the appeal of a smiley face sticker to a toddler!
- Food Learning Again–as mentioned before, letting them write or draw in food is a great idea. But you can also offer them some crackers or candies to create shapes out of. Fun and edible!
- Caps Before Lowercase–when they are ready to learn the alphabet, it’s best to begin with capital letters before lowercase. We all know that lower case letters can be confusing, j,f,g,q, etc. might confuse them and cause them to not want to learn. Therefore, begin with letting them learn capital letters first.
- Trace and Copy–another great idea would be to let them trace letters and try to copy them when they are learning the alphabet or lines or shapes. You could faintly draw the desired line or shape and have them trace over it. Or you could, for instance, make an A out of dots and let them connect the dots, then have them try to copy the letter themselves next to the one they connected. There are several worksheets online too for this purpose if you’d rather print them out.
- Use Bigger Paper--instead of handing them a standard 81/2 x 11 sheet of paper, thrive for bigger like a poster board or maybe some cardboard. Little hands like to write big, and this would give them the opportunity to do so.
- Teach the Names–teaching them the names of the letters they are writing will help greatly as they are learning. For example, have them say out loud whether the letter they are drawing is the letter ‘A’ or the letter ‘Z’. This will also help them recognize what they are writing, and how the letters sound. For a little more advanced children, A for apple, B for boy, C for cat, etc.
- How to Hold the Writing Implement–teaching your child the proper way to hold their marker, crayon, pencil, pen, or whatever they are writing with is a big step in the learning process. It’s best to start off with smaller pencils for littler hands or smaller makers, etc. The smaller it is, the more control they will have over it.
- Writing Words, Letter Puzzles–when they are old enough to write complete words, always start off small with the simple words: mom, dad, cat, dog, me, you, etc. Let them work up to the bigger words on their own. Scrabble pieces make great word puzzles for them to create words with. Or stenciled letters, use your imagination, they’ll enjoy it just as much as if you cut the letters off of a cereal box.
- DIY Flash Cards–a great idea for you to use is the make some DIY Flash Cards out of paper, paper plates, brown paper bags, whatever you can come up with. One letter on each, have them find a specific letter in the pile of flashcards, it will help them recognize the letters. Hanging stenciled letters on the wall or fridge is also a good idea.
- Strengthen Hand Muscles–helping your toddler to strengthen their hand muscles can be a favorable exercise for you them. Give them a rubber ball to squeeze, or some play-doh to play with. Both are great ideas for helping your toddlers hands to strengthen to use those writing utensils without any trouble.
- Textures and Raised Surfaces–sometimes children have trouble writing letters if they can’t feel the letter they are writing. If your child has this problem, try to outline the lines they will be writing in with crayon, boldly. This way when they are practicing their letters, they can feel the ‘border’ by the bump/outline they hit. It might not sound like it will help, but it truly does make a difference for some children, just like bumper bowling.
- Posture and Sitting–we all know posture is important, and even more so when were are writing. Face it, even us adults write better when sitting comfortably in a chair at a desk then laying on our bellies on the bed. Posture is an important part of life, and will help your little ones be more comfortable when they are learning their new skills, and then probably want to do it more often. It also prepares them for when they begin school, slouching in class will not do, as we are all well aware.
There you have it, our top 20 fun ways to help your toddler be a better writer. With a little creativity, persistence, and practice teaching our little ones to write better can be just as enjoyable to us as it can be to them.