Letter formation is the ability to form the letters of the alphabet correctly. It is an important skill in learning to write.
While many young children are not quite developmentally ready to hold a pencil and write letters, there are many ways that you can incorporate letter formation activities into your literacy and fine motor centers.
Working on letter formation activities can provide multi-sensory input to enhance letter recognition activities and phonemic awareness activities. Using many of the ideas below will also help build fine motor skills to prepare kids as they begin learning to write letters.
How Do You Teach Letter Formation?
Top to Bottom – Teach kids to form letters from the top down. Starting letters at the top is generally easier and will eventually enable children to write faster with less fatigue.
Starting Point -Letter formation activities with arrows and numbers all over them are confusing to young kids. Instead, I prefer to provide a simple dot at the starting point of a letter. This dot provides a simple visual cue to remind kids of where to place their pencil or crayon when writing a letter.
Uppercase and Lowercase – While it may be easier for kids to form uppercase letters, I am not a fan of focusing solely on uppercase letters at the beginning of letter formation instruction.
In the real world, most print is in lowercase, and asking kids to write everything in uppercase and then switching to the correct way is confusing to kids.
My son worked with many occupational therapists when he was young. The handwriting program that all of them used began instruction with uppercase letters. It was VERY difficult for him to transition to writing lowercase letters when they concentrated so much on uppercase letters.
Using Letter Cards for Letter Formation Activities
Now I want to show you many fun ways to work on letter formation with your kids. Many of these letter activities don’t even involve holding a writing instrument, so they are perfect for kids who aren’t ready to start handwriting.
One of the simplest and easiest ways to work on letter formation is with finger tracing. Using their index finger and starting at the dot, kids can trace the letters on the cards. You can also create tactile letter cards by gluing items to the cards.
Make a salt tray by adding a small amount of salt, sand, rice, or other sensory filler to the bottom of a tray. Then, using the letter card as a reference, kids can trace letters into the salt tray materials.
Cover with Mini-Erasers or Small Objects
Kids can cover the letters with stickers. You may get bonus points if the stickers relate to the letter (h is for happy). Of course, I’m kidding about the bonus points. Seriously, don’t stress yourself out finding coordinating stickers. Your kids will enjoy the activity either way.
Kids can use waxed yarn to form the letters.
No waxed yarn? No worries! Get out some pipe cleaners so that kids can form the letters with the fuzzy stems.
Bingo daubers are fun to use with these letter cards for letter formation activities. Kids can use one color or multiple colors to form the letters.
Get out the watercolor paint and a paintbrush, and your kids can work on letter formation by painting the letters.
If you have little stamps, kids trace the letters with stamped images.
If you don’t have little stamps, they can use a pencil eraser to stamp small circles to trace the letters.
Kids can trace the letters with tape.
Kids can use crayons to color or trace the letters on the cards.
They can use several colors of crayons to rainbow write the letters.
Squeezing glue is fun and a great way to build hand strength. Kids can trace the letters with a line of glue. When the glue dries, you will have a great tactile letter card for finger tracing.
Provide markers, and your kids can decorate the letters or trace them.
Dry Erase Markers
Do you want to use the cards over and over again? Then, laminate them, and you can use them with dry-erase markers for letter formation practice.
Glue objects or Pom-Poms
The variety of objects that you can glue to the cards is endless. For example, dig some craft pom-poms out of your craft supply closet, and kids can glue them in place to form the letters.
Want something a little fancier? Sequins are fun!
If you don’t want to deal with glue, craft noodles are a great alternative. Provide a damp sponge or damp paper towel. Kids can tap the end of a craft noodle to moisten it, and then they can stick it to the letter.
Kids can use cotton swabs and paint to trace the letters, or perhaps they will prefer to trace the letter with dots of paint.
Purchase the Letter Cards
The versatile letter cards featured in this post can be purchased in my store. They are part of my Hands-On Alphabet Bundle or they can be purchased separately.