Is your kindergartener eager to practice writing? Does he love to play with his food? Enjoy making designs in his mashed potatoes or carrot puree? Transform his inclination to play with his food from taboo to “yahoo"! He'll get a big kick out of working on his handwriting…using rice!
What You Do:
- Sit your child down at a table with a large baking sheet with 1-2 cups of uncooked rice spread evenly across it
- Draw a line across the top of the rice, and one across the bottom. Then, using the pointer finger of the dominant hand, show your child how to draw the following handwriting strokes, which are the building blocks for most letters of the alphabet:
- Straight line: begin at the top, and draw straight to the bottom
- Straight line: begin at the left, and draw straight to the right
- "Slant left": begin at the top, and draw a diagonal line left, eventually connecting to the base line
- "Slant right": begin at the top, and draw a diagonal line right, eventually connecting to the base line
- Circle- draw an “o”
- Half circle: show your child how to draw one to the right, and one to the left (as in d and b)
- Once he's practiced a few times in the rice, ask your child to write the same strokes on the lined paper.
- When the strokes themselves become easy, it's time to move on to the ABC's. Slide out that baking sheet and ask your child to write each letter in both its capital and lowercase form. As he finishes writing in the rice, have him write the letter on the paper as well, to reinforce things.
Still feeling crafty? You can extend the activity by using the leftover rice for a different purpose. Now that your child has written all of his letters onto paper, have him glue rice on top. It may sound a little odd, but working with rice and glue helps improve hand dexterity (which works those writing muscles!), plus, it helps kids think about the shape of the letters, and the direction they moved while writing them. Dried corn, macaroni, raisins, or uncooked noodles also work well for this purpose. So raid that pantry, and get your kid thinking about those ABC's!
Mary Anne Edwards is a freelance writer with teaching experience in preschool, first, and fourth grades. She has also taught second grade Title One reading groups.