Friday, February 10

Montessori: Writing Within Lines



Moveable Alphabet and object box with a lined board

Up until recently, my daughter has been writing letters on unlined paper and chalkboards. She has had lots of practice writing letters in sand, cornstarch, shaving cream and with chalk. Children are best starting out writing letters on blank paper or unlined chalkboards so that they are able to focus their attention on letter formation instead of worrying about placement. When a child is allowed to write on blank paper or boards it frees her/him to write larger, distinguishing more easily between lines and curves and it provides a more natural experience for the child.

Practicing writing on a line

It was recently that I decided to introduce the concept of writing on lines and letter placement within lines using both chalkboard writing and the moveable alphabet. I had previously purchased some nice sized chalkboards from a discount Montessori company when I ordered our moveable alphabet. I was so disappointed when the boards arrived. The set of green chalkboards consisted of a lined board and a board with squares (for numbers). The lines were perfect, I loved the large sizes of the boards, however, the board was so glossy that it wouldn't allow for chalk writing. Instead of returning the boards I decided to paint over them with chalkboard paint and add my own lines. This first board (pictured above) has simple lines for writing. This was used for the first introduction of writing on a line.


Writing numerals

Unrelated to letters, the other board I painted has squares used for writing numbers. I imagine it will be useful later on with more math related work, but right now it is used for numeral formation. Although not shown in the photo, at the top of the board is the numeral she is working on which she traced with her fingers first before writing.



We now use this board for work with the moveable alphabet and object boxes. I made it with flannel and hot glued on the lines. I stitched the dotted line with embroidery thread and hot glued the flannel onto a board (although cardboard would also work). My daughter is now getting familiar with the placement of the letter within the lines. Our next step, will be using lined paper after some more practice with the flannel lined board.

30 comments:

Mel said...

This comment is not necessarily related to writing, because it has more to do with reading, but I am wondering what your thoughts are about Waldorf's focus on oral language and not focusing on exposure to books for a while (I believe they recommend that beginning in 1st-2nd grade). I know you draw only partially from Waldorf, and I'm sure from the great books you have on your sidebar (we love your recommendations) that books are important for your family, but I'm wondering if any of the Waldorf recommendations have affected how you use books. Just trying to get some ideas for our family. Thank you!

Amy said...

I value the waldorf approach of using oral storytelling and try to incorporate it into our days (probably not as much as I should though).

Most of the time we listen to an audio story either at home-quiet time- or in the car. Also, I try to read some of the fairy tales from a book that doesn't have any or many illustrations.

My daughters also love it when I tell them a story from my childhood- an experience I remember or something I did when I was a child. Looking through old photos is also a great way to get started.

We repeat many of the same stories- audio cd or me reading- however usually not back to back like Waldorf recommends (my daughters want new stories the following day rather than the same from yesterday). I have found that I include more storytelling into our days if I pick out one or two new stories to introduce each month- either reading or audio.

Another idea- which I used to do but haven't recently- is using a few props for a kind of puppet story telling experience. Even if you just use small animal figures and a few natural objects and make up a simple seasonal story, they love it!

Mel said...

Thank you for the wonderful ideas.

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