Letter Formation

My district had not formally adopted a program for handwriting or letter formation.  Some teachers used Handwriting Without Tears, and in my building we had some of their materials but no formal training in it.  There were parts of that program that I loved and used, but I wanted to integrate letter formation into the alphabet program I was using with my puppets.

At the beginning of the year when I was teaching letters and sounds, and encouraging the children to draw recognizable pictures and start to stretch words and write what they hear, I chose not to focus on correct letter formation yet  – although of course I always modeled it as I wrote, and talked about how letters are formed.   After they gained some confidence with the whole phonetic process I went through the alphabet again, focusing on how to form each upper and lower case letter.  That meant they were already writing quite a lot before we did this, but I felt like they were more ready to be successful a little later in the year when they had gained fine motor control and were already interested in letters.

Since we began full day Kindergarten I usually introduced letter formation in the afternoon while we were using Alpha the Alligator and experimenting with phonetic spelling in the morning.  In the beginning the children were not using paper – just practicing forming the letters with their finger on the carpet, in the air, on each other’s backs, etc.  We had already worked on alphabet recognition and letter sounds, now the children had a reason to write and were more motivated to learn how to write correctly.

I made a large book of upper and lower case letters, based on an old Math Their Way idea.

I cut each letter out of green and red paper.  The first stroke that you make was green, the rest of the letter was red.  The Math Their Way program used this technique with purple and green strokes to write numerals – they chose those colors because of the old “ditto” machines.  I chose green for the first stroke (green for go) and red for the rest.

I introduced the children to another puppet – he has 26 names:  Archibald Bertram Cornelius Dexter Ephram Franklin Grant Hiram Ignasius Jeffrey Kevin Liam Michael Nathan Owen Patrick Querulous Robert Stanley Timothy Ulysses Victor Walter Xavier Yoland Zolad.  We called him Archibald Bertram Cornelius or ABC for short.

What I loved about Archibald Bertram Cornelius was how easily his mouth works, and how I could use his long pointed beak to trace the letters – first in the book, then in the air.  He always talked about how upper case letters always start at the top.  He would say it very joyfully with his beak pointed up to the ceiling.  It wasn’t long before Archibald would ask the kids where to start a letter and they would turn their little noses up to the ceiling and yell – At the top!

I wrote simple poems about how to form each letter that we chanted off as we practiced.  For lower case letters I wrote an alliterative phrase.

letter writing poems

I brought out Archibald each day and started with the letter Aa – then went through the alphabet up to the new letter for the day.  That way the children had lots of practice with most of the letters – just hearing the poems and practicing forming the letters using their finger.  We would go through the alphabet one more time – this time practicing writing the letters on paper, and meeting another puppet – Kelby Kangaroo.  When I began introducing all the letter poems before we worked on this final alphabet writing book I found that the kids were more able to remember to start at the top and how to form each letter.

A few people asked for copies of the letters I made out of red and green paper, but those aren’t available.  Originally I cut the letters out of red and green paper and glued them onto white construction paper.  To make it easier to share I made a set on my computer that I am sharing here.


This is an example for the letter A.  If you want the complete set please click the pdf link below.  Hope these are helpful!



19 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Terry
    Nov 14, 2010 @ 21:21:24

    Where would I go to find such a cute “vulture” or what ever Archibald is…?
    I love your ideas and the willingness to share. You are my hero.


  2. dbsenk
    Nov 14, 2010 @ 21:59:21

    Thank you so much! I got Archibald from Lucy Moore – Lucystoys.com – he is a vulture! I love him – he really is perfect for practicing letter writing! Thank you for the sweet comment!


  3. jiya
    Jan 09, 2011 @ 12:08:43

    thankyou so much for sharing such wonderful ideas. im new in this professional but taking help from ur experience and ideas ur my mentor.


  4. J. Lindblom
    Apr 10, 2012 @ 10:34:17

    I like how you are combining the two programs. Both are good, creative, and keep the interest of the kids. Thanks for sharing


  5. Paxton
    Jul 04, 2012 @ 22:25:12

    This is brilliant! I love the vulture pointing to the top! Thanks so much for sharing!


  6. Sarah Sherman
    Aug 01, 2012 @ 13:14:19

    i love this!!!!!! THANK YOU!


  7. Christina Aronen
    Aug 03, 2012 @ 23:46:35

    What a great activity, thanks for sharing! I am your newest follower and can’t wait to check out your site, it looks amazing!
    Christina @ Seabearskindergarten.blogspot.com


  8. Christy
    Aug 31, 2012 @ 18:43:06

    so glad i found this! thank you so much!


  9. pagerald
    Sep 08, 2012 @ 11:05:42

    Love love love it!!!!


  10. Kris
    Sep 28, 2012 @ 10:45:57

    Love the idea of using color for the letters. I’m thinking this might help children with dyslexia.


  11. Ms. Macari
    May 31, 2013 @ 13:27:47

    Thank you! This is exactly what I’ve been looking for… love it! 🙂


  12. Mary
    Jul 28, 2013 @ 19:51:10

    I’ve been looking for ideas to help with letter formation. I taught my kiddos the number formation rhymes last year and they did great! Can’t wait to make these into a book to share with them. Summer school starts tomorrow, so I’ll make it after school tomorrow!


  13. gauri
    Jun 01, 2014 @ 04:17:16

    wonderful idea, thanks for sharing 🙂


  14. Dee
    Sep 09, 2014 @ 14:46:15

    Hey, do you have a copy of the patterns for the letters that you used for the red and green? Thanks.


    • dbsenk
      Sep 09, 2014 @ 21:53:26

      I am adding a pdf to the blog post with the letter formation poems. When I made mine I cut the letters out of fadeless paper and glued them together on large construction paper. That was a lot of work and hard to share, so I re-made them on the computer, and they can be colored with red and green markers. Hope this helps!


  15. Helen Innes
    Jul 24, 2015 @ 16:58:36

    Thank You so much for sharing your ideas I love the letter formation poems, thanks a million happy teaching Nana from one Nana to another. God Bless you


  16. Shantwan Mines
    Sep 05, 2016 @ 09:54:48

    I can not remember how I’ve found your Page, but I love it. What great resources you have! I like especially this letter formation file. Thank you Nana for your labor of love and for making the path easier for the rest of us.


    • dbsenk
      Sep 05, 2016 @ 16:55:15

      Thank you Shantwan for the very kind words. If my love for kids and Kindergarten shows in my blog, it makes me very happy! Hope you have a great school year!


  17. Lucia
    Nov 25, 2016 @ 20:58:32

    Incredible! Thanks so much!
    I love it!


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