Out-of-the-Box Handwriting Practice Ideas

Are you raising a wiggle worm that has a hard time sitting still? No worries, little kids (and sometimes older kids) are naturally curious and geared up to go go go!

Because of that extra energy, it may be harder to get through homeschool lessons but these creative handwriting ideas will combine learning with some out-of-the- box activities.


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Preschoolers and younger elementary school aged kids are more than likely going to be more active during school lessons and enjoy doing things that are as PHYSICAL as possible!

If you’re worried that they aren’t doing “what they are supposed to do”, you can breathe a sigh of relief because a strong case of the wiggles is completely normal. I promise!

I’m not referring to wild, out-of-control behavioral issues that need to be addressed situation-by-situation, I’m simply talking about meeting our active little ones where they are and encouraging them to love learning through methods that work well for them.

Maybe we’re expecting too much too soon for our young learners. Homeschooling breaks the mold and sets the expectation for students to work at their own pace so that they can be successful. We get to stop forcing workbooks and embrace a better option for each child developmentally.

To find the best way to help your child learn is to consider your little one, their age, their developmental stage, personality,  interests, strengths and struggles. Then brainstorm ways you can pass a love of learning on to your child!

No Paper Handwriting Practice Ideas

One way you can encourage your little one during school is by breaking out of the traditional pencil-and-paper handwriting routine. It’s not only fun, but it can also help with fine motor skills and creativity.

Kids love to get physical while they are learning, so let’s dive into a list of handwriting practice ideas that don’t rely on sitting still for success.

These no paper activities are fun for active boys and girls of all ages! 

Most of these handwriting activities will work for students learning manuscript or cursive. So choose a few ideas you think will work best for your child and write them into your language arts lesson plans.

  • Create letters using play dough and alphabet cookie cutters.
  • Encourage them to pretend their index finger is a rocket and show them how to “write” letters in the sky.
  • Turn off all the lights and have them use a flashlight to “write” their letters on the wall.
  • Use cooked spaghetti noodles to create letter formations. Don’t want to cook spaghetti noodles? Long pieces of string or shoelaces work well, too!
  • Practice writing letters using a small dry-erase board and dry-erase markers OR use those same markers on a mirror. My kids love writing on mirrors! You could do a similar activity in the bath tub – using these bath time crayons! Splish-splash, I was writing my letters! Yay!
  • Trace letters or words with water on a chalkboard.
  • Line up dinosaurs, superhero figures, race cars, etc. to create a variety of letter shapes.
  • Work with siblings to create letter formations – using their bodies! Set a timer to see how quickly they can make it happen! Let them chest bump each other when they’re done – Not a good idea for your kids? Okay. I get it. Safety first, of course.
  • An adult calls out a letter, and the child searches for it in a bowl of [dry] alphabet cereal (I’ve seen alphabet crackers available in stores, too!), and as soon as the letter is found, the Alphabet Monster eats it! Note: Your child gets to be the alphabet monster! ha!
  • “Write” letters in shaving cream, pudding, whipped cream, salt, sugar, sand, paint, etc. This activity can be enjoyed indoors on a tray or taken outside.

Tracing and Writing in Salt Learning Activities for Preschoolers

Paint Bags: More about writing in paint here.

Paint Bags: Letters, Sight Words, Spelling Words, & More by This Little Home of Mine

  • Hold up a letter flashcard, and then have your child “write” that same letter on your back – using their fingers. This provides you as a the parent with a free massage. You’re welcome.
  • See if your child is interested in learning Sign Language. If so, work with them to practice finger spelling.
  • Create a collage! Send your child through a magazine – searching for a specific letter. When they spot the letter, have them cut it out and glue it on piece of paper or poster board. When they find it, let them scream…let them dance…let them give you a high-five. Whatever it takes to keep your little detective moving! You may even want to allow the use a flashlight or magnifying glass – just to add to the excitement!
  • An adult stands in one spot in the driveway (or on the sidewalk). The grownup whispers the name of a letter in to the child’s ear. The child then runs off and writes the letter somewhere else on the ground using sidewalk chalk. When they’re finished writing, they run back to the adult and get ready to listen for the next letter.
  • Use paintbrushes to write in water on the driveway or sidewalk.

Painting with Water - Kids Activity by This Little Home of Mine

  • Pass a ball back and forth with your child. You say a letter name, and then toss the ball to them. When they catch the ball, they make the letter’s sound, and then pass the ball back to you.
  • Hide alphabet letter magnets down in a bowl of rice and send them on a search for consonants or a search for vowels or a search for a specific letter. They could even have a speed race with a sibling. Anything goes!
  • Fish for alphabet letters! You could even recreate this game on a larger scale using a plastic swimming pool, magnetic letters, and a magnet attached to the end of a pole.
  • Do the Vowel Dance! As an adult shouts out letters of the alphabet, the child stands tall and still like a soldier until they hear the name of a vowel, then it’s time for them to bust a move! You could encourage a different movement for each vowel: a= clap hands, e= stomp feet, i = snap fingers, o = wave arms, u= jump around OR they can simply FREESTYLE DANCE any time they hear you yell out the name of a letter that is not a consonant. You can even get creative and add music to this activity!
  • Go on a nature walk and collect items to spell out words.

Homeschool Handwriting Curriculum

If you’re looking for a handwriting curriculum that works well for active little ones? While you know I love A Beka Phonics, I do begin to part company with their program when it comes to how much seat work is included – especially when it comes to handwriting lessons.

One of the most effective programs I’ve seen (for teaching both manuscript and cursive) to active kiddos is Handwriting without Tears. I love the simplicity of the program as well as the hands-on activities they encourage! Check it out and let me know what you think! 

Homeschooling Down Syndrome - Learning without Tears

My oldest has also really loved their Keyboarding without Tears Program – He gets super excited about those digital incentives!

Homeschooling First Grade by This Little Home of Mine

It’s Time for Handwriting Practice: My #1 Tip:

It’s a game changer!

When my kids are doing pencil-and-paper handwriting practice, I like to let them do the “grading”. Yes, this works! When I was in the elementary classroom, I used this approach to self-assessment, and most students were far tougher on their work than I would have ever been.

“Okay guys, take this sticker and place it next to your very best letter!” or “Okay everyone, grab your bright yellow crayon and draw a shining start next to your best letter!”

Worked every time, and encouraged all kinds of positivity and happiness about handwriting practice – Seriously – and I use the same approach now in our homeschooling. It takes the focus off of the yucky-looking letters and on to the ones that look awesome!

Simple, but effective! Super effective!

Looking for more out-of-the-box ideas? Try these!

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