Thursday, August 18, 2011

Cure a Kinder Teacher's Pet Peeve

What is your five-year-old’s favorite word? Their name! Help them learn to print it with only the first letter capitalized. This is recommended by first grade teachers to kinder teachers because that is how they will need to print it in first.  You will also be helping in the reading process by emphasizing the lower case letters - as print is mostly lower case.

Many experts recommend teaching print in all caps first because the upper case letters are easier to form and many lower case letters have a similar form. This does make sense. But perhaps an exception can be made for a child's first name so they won't have to relearn it. 

How Parents Can Help 

Children of this age are tactile learners meaning they like to touch and feel to explore their world or use their five senses and movement. Here are some ways to help your child learn to print their name:
  • Form letters with pretzels, M&Ms, cheerios, marbles, rocks, pasta, buttons, or whatever they like. Encourage your child to move their fingers over the letters. Make it fun and use lots of praise.
  • Lightly print your child’s name and have them trace it in “rainbow” colors or using different crayon colors over the letters. Or make dots forming the letters and let them connect the dots. Children love markers, especially scented (buy washable).
  • Put shaving cream on a surface. Help your child trace their name in the mixture. They will love to help you clean away those crayons marks and germs which the shaving cream dissolves.
  • Make playdough and let your child roll out the play dough into worm or snake shapes. Then help them form the letters for their first name and run their fingers over the letters. Feel the stress release as you roll play dough snakes. Take deep breaths and enjoy being a child again.
My Favorite No-Fail Playdough Recipe
2 cups flour
1 cup salt
2 cups water
2 tablespoons cooking oil
4 teaspoons cream of tartar (spice section)

Mix and heat until ingredients form a ball. For different colors, divide into sections and add drops of food coloring then knead. Children also enjoy scents such as peppermint, orange extract or vanilla. This recipe can be halved but will last if kept in a tightly sealed baggie or covered container (the less air the longer the playdough will last).

No Cook Playdough
2 cups self-rising flour (may need to add more to desired consistency)
2 tablespoons Alum or Cream of Tartar
1/2 cup salt
2 tablespoons cooking oil
Up to 1 1/2 cups boiling water
Mix, knead, and store in a sealed baggie or covered container.

Play is the highest expression of human development in childhood for it alone
is the free expression of what is in the child's soul. ~ Fredrich Froebel

Would you like a glimpse into Kindergarten? Do you need inexpensive ideas, activities, and games to teach your child through play? Perhaps I can help save your sanity, one project at a time, with The Happy Mommy Handbook: The Ultimate How-to Guide on Keeping Your Toddlers and Preschoolers Busy, Out of Trouble and Motivated to Learn. Both are bestsellers and also available on Barnes & Noble and Kobo. Ebooks are only $3.99.

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  1. This is good to know. I spend a lot of time with Junior on writing skills. We are still in the tracing stage. He can recognize his name though. I will definitely start pointing out to him that only the first letter is a capital. The more he sees it that way the more he will write it that way.
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  2. great ideas! love your blog-i'm a new follower!

  3. I saw you need contributors for your blog for fun family outings. We live in the country NW of Dallas. The Gainesville Zoo has greatly improved but that is quite a distance from DFW area. It is small and only takes 1 hr to walk through so good for little ones. Nice park & train ride too. I do love the Ft. Worth Zoo, Japanese Gardens and Stockyards. Train going from Denton to Dallas now for more convenient trips into city.

  4. Thank you for sharing this post with me on KBN. I featured it in my round up on letter learning today!

  5. Teaching children to print in all capitals first is more developmentally appropriate in terms of visual development as well as motor development. Capital letters are easier for kids to recognize and write. This is not to say that you don't expose them to lowercase or mixed case writing or print, just that you meet them where they are developmentally, and many kids aren't ready to write the more complex lowercase letters until at least age 5 or 6. As long as you expose them to the "correct" way to write their name, it's fine if not better to teach capital letters first for writing. Links to research on this can be found at

  6. Yes, Handwriting without Tears does recommend teaching upper case letters before lower case in printing. I understand this and am not an OT or expert in this area, other than teaching experience. Perhaps an exception can be made for a child learning his first name so that they don't have to relearn how to print it. Thank you for visiting.