PreK Pals’ Ponderings: How Do Play-Doh, Scissors, and Cheerios Help Littles Learn to Write? (Hint: Think Fine Motor Skills) Featured

10 Mar 2020 Alicia Jenne
Using scissors strengthens the hand grip. It also works both sides of the brain, since both hands are involved in holding and manipulating scissors. Using scissors strengthens the hand grip. It also works both sides of the brain, since both hands are involved in holding and manipulating scissors. Alicia Jenne

One of the biggest expectations from new to PreK parents is that their PreKPal will learn to write their name. It’s so exciting to see a child “make their mark” to show ownership on their artwork and other school papers. And it’s an important aspect of learning. 

According to the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), becoming proficient at name writing helps build a foundation for other literacy knowledge and skills. It’s associated with: 

  • Alphabet knowledge 
  • Letter writing 
  • Print concepts 
  • Spelling 

It seems like such a simple task, doesn’t it? Signing your name is the first step of so many things in life. It’s your identity. It’s uniquely you.  

Here’s the thing: This task requires so much from our littlest learners, whose muscles may not be quite ready to comply. Strengthening those muscles is easy, but it doesn’t necessarily look like what you’d expect. 

Using Cheerios to cover numbers or letters works the pincer grasp – which is important for holding writing utensils.

Although the actual practice of writing is important, we don’t expect PreKPals to write sentences over and over to gain muscle strength. Instead, we utilize other tasks that, to the outsider, might look like “just play.” This month, I thought I’d give everyone a peek into what we do as PreK teachers, including ways we prepare PreK Pals for a lifetime of writing.  

Mr. Rogers said it best:Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children, play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.” 

Alicia Jenne’ is a veteran teacher of little people. She is the PreK Pals Lead Teacher for PreK#1 at Rock Quarry Elementary School. 

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