Write On!
Helping Your Child with Handwriting
Tags: Handwriting skills, Fine Motor skills, Penmanship
Posted: 2010-01-10 19:41:45 By: by Joanne Oppenheim

 


Mastering the mechanics of paper and pencil tasks can be a challenge. Adults often think that practice, practice, practice is the only solution. But writing letters over and over again may be counter productive.

Developing the fine motor skills needed for writing is often best done with more playful tools such as juicy markers, fat crayons, paints and big brushes. These art supplies give kids a chance to learn how to control their hand motions as well as the lines they put on paper or chalkboard.

Instead of giving them coloring books to stay inside the lines, give them paper and coloring tools that allow them to make their own lines! Along with drawing tools, bring home lacing cards, modeling clay, and small building bricks that involve coordinating eye hand movements and strengthen the small muscles in their hands.


 

 


2009 Award
Glodoodle
(Spinmaster $19.99 Score: )

Here's the newest twist on your old Magna Doodle. This see-through drawing board writes in three colors and glows in the dark. Give the magic button a push and the board is clean and ready for the next doodle or spelling word or math fact. This toy works well in the back seat of a car at night or for tic tac toe games. For family fun let one of the kids keep score of your 20 Questions game on the drive to wherever. Earlier models of the toy had some problems with erasing. The newest model fared better with most of our testers with one notable exception.  So we feel somewhat torn about this award--on the one hand, it is a really cool concept, but of course if you get a dud, then it doesn't matter how great the product is supposed to be.   If you have gotten an earlier model or just having a problem with the eraser - return it for a newer model. This takes three AA batteries and has to be turned off manually...no automatic timer, so be forewarned! They say 3 & up. We'd say all ages. The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2009. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

 

 

 

 
2005 Awards
Doodle Pro
(Fisher-Price $8 Score: ) A no-mess magnetic drawing tool that works just like the Magna Doodle. Tied-on “pen” and shapes are perfect for drawing, tic-tac-toe, and even writing letters and numbers. Also available in smaller travel model ($8). 3 & up. (800) 432-5437. (Works much better than the new Etch A Sketch Draw ’n’ Go (Ohio Art). Stick with the original Etch A Sketch for the next age group.) ACTIVITY:Put dots on the board that will form a word, number or letter when the dots are connected. Can child guess what it will be? Or play I'm thinking of a number(write one on the board and keep it hidden..CHild must guess..is it more than...less than...etc. Give child a chance to write the number and answer the questions.

Age: Preschool,Early School Years. Award Year: 2005.

 

 

 


2006 Award
Aquadoodle
(Spinmaster $24.99 Score: )

Our four-year-old tester looked up and said, "Even if I get it on the floor, it won't show, will it?" Indeed, this is a mess-free and semi-magical oversized mat for drawing with water! Using the 'water pen," blue drawings appear on the surface and disappear once they are dry. Great for developing hand and arm movements needed for writing without restrictive lines. Our testers did not like the Sing 'n' Doodle Mat ($34.99) that plays Old MacDonald and silly sound effects as you draw. Our testers found it confusing and distracting. Stay with the original-less is more! (800) 622-8339.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2006. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

 

 

 


2008 Award
Crayola 3D Underwater Chalk Kit
(Crayola $12.99 Score: ) No need to go under water. Kids can use stencils with fish or draw freehand on blacktop with eight colors of sidewalk chalks or paint with sidewalk chalk paint. But, wait! Here's the topper! Put on the 3-D glasses that come with the kit and see drawings that seem to "float" above the ground. Works best if you make the lines thick. Our favorite, draw the suggested thick circles with a solid circle in the middle--it really works! We found for best results, use on darker blacktop.

Age: . Award Year: 2008.

 

 

 

 
Awards
Alex Chubby Colored Pencils
(Alex $10 Score: ) These pencils have thicker "lead" and an easier-to-grasp hexagonal shape, and are especially wonderful for beginners. SNAP These fat colored pencils are ideal for kids who cannot grasp traditional pencils. ACTIVITY: Rainbow Writing: write a letter in one color, have child trace with another color.Now add a third color and have your child trace in a fourth color. A playful way to give your child a feel for letters.

Age: Preschool,Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: .

 

 

 

 
Awards
Jumbo GRIP Colour Pencils
(Creativity for Kids $10 Score: ) 12 color pencils have built-in finger grips. Color and then apply water with brush for watercolor effects. Comes with its own sharpener. (800) 311-8684.SNAP: These are thinner than the Alex colored pencils and lend themselves to older kids who would still benefit from finger grips built-in to the pencils. These are very special since after they draw they can turn lines into paint with a bit of water on a brush.

Age: Preschool,Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: .

 

 

 

 
2008 Awards
Crayola Color Surge
(Crayola $7.99 Score: )

Magical drawing experiences when these color surge markers touch down on the brilliantly colored double-sided paper. The colors brighten up as you draw and turn colors as one marker glides over an earlier line. Sets come with 8 or more markers and 20 or more sheets. This makes a great open-ended travel toy or a good choice for some non-messy creative time for a play date. Take it to Grams--chances are she will want to try it! 5 & up.

The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab. SNAP ACTIVITY: Use these magical markers and paper to encourage kids to practice writing their names and turn the finished work into signs for the door to her room or cover of his notebook. First you write a letter...then have the child trace your letter. This follow the leader game is a great way to make work into play with a happy payoff!

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2008. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

 

 

 

 
2009 Awards
LeapFrog Scribble & Write
(LeapFrog $22 Score: )

There is a screen on this little letter toy that asks you to trace the shapes shown. Like your old magic slate, you can “erase” the shapes you trace. Here’s the problem…it will tell you good job even when you do not trace what is there! We like electronic toys to be kind, but giving false praise can be confusing. The letter games are simple tracing. You push a letter on the keyboard and it says the name of the letter and then lights up a template on the screen to trace. Unlike so many toys, this one does have both upper and lower case letters---that is a good thing. The curves on the screen are not exactly round, but they are not bad. After the letter has been traced the child is also told what sound the letter makes. The final game asks kids to watch the lines on the screen form a letter and when recognized push the right key on the keyboard. We’d say, skip the shape game with its misleading praise and go right to the letters. They say 3 & up, we’d say 4-5 is closer to the truth.

The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

 

This is a straightforward toy for helping children who are learning to shape their letters. Keep in mind that following the lighted up letters is just one way to develop those skills. You can also give them a more direct experience by having them “write” with their fingers in wet sand or in a pan of flour…trace the first letter of your child’s name in the sand….have him trace it. Wipe it away and demo again how you do this and have him trace again. Eventually ask him to draw the letter so you can trace the letter he writes.
Avoid trying to do all the letters at one time. Pick two or three at most and keep the letters related in shape…i.e. do three stick shaped letters on the same day, such as L, T, and X. Or on another day work on C, O, and Q.

 

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2009. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

 

 

 

 
Awards
eeBoo Children of the World Lacing Cards
(eeBoo $4.95 Score: )

Kids dive right into lacing activities without knowing they’re a great way to develop the fine-motor skills they’ll need for writing. While stringing beads, they can also sort by color and make patterns, learning to see likenesses and differences. Our favorites: Children of the World and Fairies of the Field (eeBoo $14.95 each ) Beautifully illustrated sturdy cards that kids will love to work on. 4 & up.  Lacing & Tracing Tools (Lauri $6.99 ) is made of sturdy chipboard punched with holes that kids "sew" with colorful laces. Also recommended, Lace & Link Numbers ($14.99 ),  crepe 4" rubber numerals that reinforce shapes in a tactile way. 4 & up. 

The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: . Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

 

 

 


2001 Award
Hama Activity Box
(Hama $18 Score: )

You probably did these beads-on-pegboards when you were a kid. This set comes with three shaped pegboards, a butterfly, hexagon and a frog. There are color patterns to follow and doing so requires working one line at a time, counting and fine motor skills to put the beads in place. When the beads are in place and ADULT needs to iron them in place. One other skill is developed here, that is staying with a task. No writing required, but all the skills used are related to the task of copying, writing and stickability.  You might want to try a smaller kit with just one pegboard and you can find open-ended geometric shapes that kids can design. They say 5, but we’d say more like 6-9.

 

 

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2001. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

 

 

 


2009 Award
eeBoo Write Me a Story
(eeBoo $11.95 Score: )

We love these handsome story pads that use the same artists as their games and story cards to make stick-on seals that can be put on the top of the lined paper. Parents can take dictation of a child's story or older kids can use the stickers and blank pages to write their own tales. Getting kids to tell a story is the first step in getting them to read a story. The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab. 

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2009. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

 



 

 


2008 Award
Thumb Doodle Book
(Klutz $14.95 Score: ) Getting boys and girls to hone their fine motor skills for writing may be a little easier with this entertaining Thumbprint book. Kids dip their fingers into the paint pads and then add features to create cartoon like doodles. It’s not great at, but it is good fun and even better, it can make using a pen less ominous. 6 & up.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2008.

 

 

 


2009 Award
Alphabeasties and Other Amazing Types
(by Sharron Werner, illus. by Sara Forss, Blue Apple $19.99 Score: )

Normal 0 0 1 102 583 Toyportfolio 4 1 715 11.1280 0 0 0 An original look at the alphabet. Each animal pictured from A to Z is composed with a variety of a particular letter in lowercase and upper and in bold and light for shading. The featured creature fills the page and other small examples of items that start with the same letter are found in blocks at the bottom or side of the page. While some of the hard to fill letters, such as U, Y and X are a bit of a stretch, this is a book for older preschoolers and early school years kids who will enjoy the esoteric choices on these few pages. They might even like making other alphabet collections inspired by this beastie collection. A great way to get kids to practice writing the same letters in a playful way.

 

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2009. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

 

 
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