Handwriting in the Elementary Classroom - Mrs. B's First Grade

Handwriting in the Elementary Classroom

Ah, handwriting. The time for it is scarce, but how can you ignore it? In first grade, handwriting should be an important focus. Read on to learn how I teach it in my classroom!
I have approached teaching handwriting in a variety of ways. When I taught kindergarten, I would explicitly teach the formation of each upper and lower case letter. My students needed as much guided practice as I could give them. Now that I teach first grade, the kindergarten teacher does a great job at that and they come to me pretty proficient. That does not mean that we get to stop practicing though.

I have taught handwriting using two programs, Zaner Bloser and Handwriting Without Tears. We currently use Handwriting Without Tears. I think either program gets the job done. We switched to Handwriting Without Tears because it was better for kids that needed extra intervention. That way kids that were working in intervention groups could take what they learned back to whole group. I also like that it has a keyboarding component (Keyboarding Without Tears) that uses the same way of teaching. My kids use their iPads to work on this and it works perfectly. I suggest to them to lay their iPad on the table and type on it not propped up. This makes mimics typing on a keyboard better.
We all know that our days are filled so easily with all the curriculum that needs to be taught. Therefore, I have one 30 minute time block for handwriting each week and one 30 minute time block for keyboarding. I start out the school year by teaching my kids the basics of the program and reviewing the strokes. Eventually the kids take off on their own and work at their own pace. As they are working in their workbook, I walk around the room and check each page they complete. As far as keyboarding, I do not start it until the late fall. The program is not too hard to get through and is very independent. I think it is good to start it once kids are at the point where they can easily sit and work on their own.

Another great way to practice handwriting is through apps. I have three that I like to suggest. My students will get on them if they finish their handwriting early, or if they get through the entire book before others. They also love to get on them during free time. Handwriting Without Tears has a great app - Wet Dry Try. It isn't free, but is a goes along with the program perfectly if you can afford it. The other two I like are the Zaner Bloser Handwriting App and ABC Tracer. There are so many to pick from. I think the most important feature to look for is one that will not let your students move on if they do not form the letter correctly.
This combination works for my students and I. When I notice a friend is having trouble, we provide the intervention that we need. Handwriting Without Tears has great support for this. Usually after a few explicit one on one lessons they correct their formation mistakes. 

There are times when extra practice is needed, or when parents ask what they could do at home. I always had difficulty pulling resources and rarely had an extra handwriting book to give up. So, I made a packet to send home. The packet includes everything that I thought was important:
Three Pages of Fine Motor Activity Suggestions
Sensory Ideas to Try
Handwriting "Rules" to Follow
Correct Hand Position Guidelines
Verbal Path for the Formation of Uppercase and Lowercase Letters
iPad App Suggestions
Handwriting Book Cover
40 Practice Pages for Numbers 0-20
5 Pages to Write Numbers 1-120
52 Practice Pages for Uppercase Letters
52 Practice Pages for Lowercase Letters
30 Practice Pages for Large Uppercase, Lowercase, and Number Practice

Want check it out? Click on the picture below!
What do you do for handwriting in your classroom? I would love to hear about it!

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