Preschoolers can learn how to write letters in many different ways, but my favorite way to teach letter formation is through sensory experiences. To do this, you will need several different materials. First, you will need a letter formation prompt sheet. You can use the one designed by me or you can find another one that you like. Handwriting without Tears has a helpful prompt sheet.
As your child makes each letter, he or she should say the prompt out loud. After saying the prompt and making the letter, he will then make a small dot or press a sticker as he says the letter name. There is a video example at the end of this post. I choose two different sensory experiences each day to help my preschoolers learn how to write letters. First, they trace or make the letter with their finger and then they actually write the letter with a different writing utensil. Here are the 10 sensory writing activities that I use to teach correct letter formation. Each of them will be further explained below.
Tracing or Making the Letter
- Salt Tray
- White Crayon on Black Construction Paper
- Shaving Cream
- Puffy Paint Letter or Sandpaper Letter
- Play dough
Writing the Letter
- Chalk on Chalkboard
- Glow Slate
- Bathtub crayons
- Stay inside the Highlighter Lines
Just fill a pie tin with enough salt to cover the bottom completely.
White Crayon on Black Construction paper
Write a letter with a white crayon on black construction paper and have your child trace the letter with his finger.
Pump a small amount of shaving cream inside of a small cookie sheet. Have your child spread the shaving cream around with his hand so that it covers the bottom of the cookie sheet.
Puffy Paint Letter or Sandpaper Letter
Use this puffy paint letter cards tutorial or, if you have sandpaper letters, use those.
Have your child roll some play dough into a long roll. He will then use to make the letter. I usually have Little Bear put the letter on a alphabet play dough mat (like these snow playdough mats) for a reference to make the letter.
Chalk on Chalkboard
Have your child use chalk to write the letter on a small chalkboard.
I got one of these glow slates from the dollar store. Your child can use the included “pen” to write the letters.
When I do this with Little Bear, I have him write the letter on our whiteboard that hangs on the wall. This gives him practice writing on a vertical surface which is really great for development. With my preschool class, I just give each student an individual whiteboard (or piece of white construction paper inside a sheet protector).
Either buy bathtub crayons, or use this bathtub crayon tutorial. You child can write the letters on the wall of your bathtub, or he or she can just write on the back of a pie tin.
Stay inside the Highlighter Lines
Write the letter with a highlighter and make sure the line is somewhat thick. Have your preschooler write with a pen or pencil over the highlighter, taking care to stay in the lines.
These sensory activities have really helped Little Bear learn how to write letters. It is important for your child to say the prompt as he writes because that will help him associate the direction the pencil should move with the way the letter should look. Little Bear’s favorite activity is the shaving cream. He laughs every time he touches it. He also likes using the bathtub crayons because we usually go into the bathroom when he uses them and anything different from “normal” is always fun. These great sensory experiences have not only helped Little Bear learn how to write letters correctly, but they have made the process fun!