Handwriting. True, it's sort of a done deal by the time they get to second grade- but I don't think it's wrong to try to help them make it a bit more legible. And I think a lot of that comes down to some fine motor skills. And then there's that whole thing I have for trying to add in sensory experiments in my room. So here's my nefarious plot:
First of all, I went to Sparklebox to get some free print outs of ground, grass and sky letters. I also put the download up on my promethean board so I could lead them through the formations on handwriting paper.
After the alphabet exercise, which we now store in our writing folders for reference, I created this "workshop". I decided not to call them centers this year because my students think centers=play time. So we're calling them workshops. When they get to that station, they are "at work" in "a shop" and I shouldn't hear them when I'm in "my shop" because walls should buffer sound. Some days it works, on others it doesn't. Still going to give it a try though. Anyhow- they use the handwriting paper to write ten words in their BEST handwriting. At the moment I have them choosing their classmates' names to write. I have the names written on sentence strips s they can see the ground grass sky formations as well. After they've written ten- then they can get some playdoh and create "snakes" to form the words with.
This is where the fine motor exercise comes in. I showed them how to knead the dough to make it soft, and how that worked our wrist and palm. And then how they could roll it into a ball, working their palm and wrist also. And then finally into a snake and how that exercised our finger muscles. I was actually extremely surprised that they did not know these general playdoh mojo moves. They all gasped in surprise when I rolled a snake.
Notice in that second picture how they've got their j backward? This was a great moment where I was able to show them and let them physically move the dough to get it right. And then fix it on their writing paper as well.
Now, for the sensory part, I went to my fave- you know it!- Pinterest baby! And found this recipe for Apple pie scented dough.
It was actually, not hard to make at all.
Right when you think that it is NEVER going to become anything and this is the worst idea in the world...
The kids are now using this dough exclusively for the workshop. And they like it. A LOT. Many have asked for the recipe. And nicely enough, I am seeing some improvements in their handwriting legibility. I'm adding in sight words this next week so they can practice these as well at this workshop. I plan to make a new play dough scent or texture every few weeks, and consistently change out the words for sight words and content vocabulary during the year.
I think this workshop is working because they are motivated to "play" with the dough- and in exchange for that treat, I get some handwriting practice ( and potentially word work...) and fine motor building.
Anybody else out there trying to combine these three ideas?