Little Miss Teacher Blog

By Clara Fiorentini

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Bring Letter Formation to Life

Hello everyone,

One of the most frequent queries I get is about writing & letter formation. So I've put together this post hoping that I'm answering as many of your questions as I can at the same time.

Letter formation is always a big deal in the Junior end of the school, if not one of the biggest. Getting them into good habits from the offset is so important but it can be a challenge especially in a world where many children are coming to school with less and less fine motor strength, or even able to recognise or write their names and then on top of that we often have to correct little habits that they may have picked up along the way before school! The age of 'swiping the Ipad' is most definitely affecting little hands and it's something I'm noticing more and more every year and forever lamenting about. I've lost count of the amount of times I've stood and watched little ones try and swipe a book page!! As a result, we can't have enough techniques for practicing letter formation, rather than just expecting them to pick up the pencils get on with it!

Here are some of my favourite, fun activities for practicing letter formation, which you can have in operation in station work during lessons, funky finger areas, early finishing tables or wherever you like basically!

1. Rainbow Rice
An old reliable. Tracing letters in dyed rice. You can encourage them use their pointing fingers or even a paintbrush. Never gets old.

2. Salt
Tracing in Salt. Even more effective if you put it in a tray on top of a laminated black card or even a rainbow pattern underneath. Makes their letters come through more clearly. Alternatively you could use sand, sequins, clay, compost, lentils....anything! Shaving foam is fun too....just make sure it's sensitive and not mint or anything scented because it can burn or be sore on skin.

3. Fairy Dust
A personal favourite. Adding a few drops of pink food colouring to fine table salt, and a few sprinkles of glitter creates a real life, fairy dust (well, you know, as close to real life as you could get!). Add a magic want to your tray for even more pzazz for tracing! Endless fun.

4. Zip Lock Paint Bags
Add a little paint to some sturdy Zip Lock freezer bags. From personal experience, I would always recommend, sealing around the edges with duct tape. Saves any spillages and mess. Give the children cotton ear buds and this is a great surface for practicing scribbling, patterns and letters and even getting some pencil grip practice in there too.

5. Cotton Bud Tracing
Another fun way of using cotton ear buds for letter formation is using them as a painting utensil. Provide a page with letters printed on it and the children can dip their cotton buds in paint and trace over them. The cotton buds only hold a little paint so its effective without being too messy.

6. Peg Boards
I'm a pest for attacking everything with my whiteboard markers! And the pegboards don't escape either. But they're great for making into little letter formation challenges. Trace a letter on it and have the little ones build the letter with the pegs. Incorporating fine motor skills and letter formation into one activity!

7. Chalk & Water
Have you any chalk boards? Write some letters correctly on them with any chalk and then give the children some skinny paint brushes and a little cup of water. Encourage them to trace them with their paintbrushes and watch them disappear. Fun but worthwhile! This would also work with sight words or numbers too!

8. Is your highlight on fleek?
To me, the highlighters in my top drawer are just as important in life as the highlighters in my make up bag! Highlighters are such an undervalued teaching aid. Anyone struggling to write their names or form letters? Use your highlighters to create some tracing for them in their writing books or copies. We do writing every day and for many who aren't just ready to write on their own, I have some highlighter tracing ready to go for them! Or, let them have the novelty of using the highlighter. Sometimes I write in a black or light crayon and they trace over it with my highlighters. Always goes down a treat.

9. Bubble Writing
Make use of Comic Sans in bubble writing. Whether it's for a particular letter, a sight word, CVC word or even their names, encourage familiarity and formation with tracing in the bubble writing. Trace with highlighters, twistables, pens....whatever! We always spend a few weeks on our names, so I print out a booklet for each of them with the bubble writing so they can get used to their names and how to write them. Also handy for building letters with playdough too!

10. DIY Whiteboards
Having the little whiteboards in the classroom are great but don't fret if you don't have enough. Laminated paper or card does the same job. Don't have time to laminate and need something instant? Poly pockets/plastic pouches work too! Also, I find baby wipes the best for cleaning them off! I download lots of letter formation worksheets from Twinkl for my early finishers too. It's handy to have them laminated and ready to go and best of all, reusable!

I've pinned some other letter formation ideas on a Pinterest board too you can check them out here.

Also, my Letter Formation & Sound Recognition Worksheet pack is available on

Do you have any other fun letter formation hacks? Be sure to share!

PS: What's great about all these activities I've listed is that you can adapt them all for number formation too!

Blogger Template by pipdig