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10 Multi-Sensory Ways to Enhance Handwriting Skills

In the journey of learning how to write, engaging multiple senses can significantly boost learning and retention (and also, it's FUN!). Incorporating various sensory experiences into handwriting practice not only makes it more enjoyable, but also helps reinforce muscle memory and cognitive connections.

Research suggests...

that multi-sensory tools aid in building handwriting skills by involving tactile experiences, visual cues, and motor movements, enhancing learning and memory retention. The combination of sensory inputs helps reinforce letter formation, spatial awareness, and even fine motor coordination, leading to improved handwriting proficiency especially in younger learners or individuals with learning differences. Also, use of multi-sensory tools is just FUN! And when we can make learning fun, we can increase motivation and fire neural pathways!

Here are 10 creative and multi-sensory methods to take your handwriting practice to the next level:

1 - Texture Tracing:

Using sandpaper, letters formed with glue that is dried, or other textures that you can feel while writing the letter can really wake up the body and provide an engaging way of practicing formation.

2 - Wikki Stix:

These wax-like strands can be shaped to build letters or used as a tactile barrier for line placement when writing.

3 - Rainbow Writing:

One of my favorite tools is rainbow writing because you can use a variety of tools to write letters and words. From crayons to chalk to paint, you can have the child write and then trace for formation and sizing practice.

4 - Musical Strokes:

Using songs or "letter stories" bring the auditory sense into writing. Even just using the same language, such as "big line, from jump, little curve, slide" to make a capital R gives the child auditory cues. Then of course you can make it fun by making up a song about the letter or word!

5 - Alphabet Puzzles:

Anytime you can manipulate 3-dimensional letters is both engaging and gives the child tactile input rather than 2-dimensional letters on a paper. Alphabet puzzles are great as well as alphabet erasers, magnets, and more.

6 - Finger Painting Letters:

Using fingers or a q-tip or a paintbrush to practice forming letters and writing words is SO fun! And it works on coordination by holding the tool, or engages the senses by getting a little messy.

7 - Playdough:

Another one of our faves is playdough! It is easily accessible and you can do

so many things. We like to roll out and build 3D letters, or smash the playdough like a pancake and use a toothpick to write on the playdough. These activities strengthen the hands while also teaching the student to "grade" their movements without pushing too hard or too gentle.

8 - Write in Sand:

Whether you live near a beach or not, you can practice writing in sand. Just grab a cookie tray and throw some sand or salt onto it. Then practice letters and words with a finger or tool to practice grasp.

9 - Edible Writing:

If you really want to engage the senses, break out some pudding or applesauce or other puree. You can spread the edible on a cookie tray and have them practice letters, words, shapes, and more. Their senses are peaked as they can smell the puree, or even take a taste ;)

10 - Nature Writing:

This one is super simple. Just go outside, find a branch or stiff leaf and write in the dirt. Or gather up several twigs and build letters. The options are endless!

Bonus: Blindfold Writing.

First, a caveat... NEVER blindfold a child unless they are comfortable with you and aware of what is happening. But for our older kids who need to work on visualization and body awareness, it can be helpful to practice writing WITHOUT our visual sense. So we can see if it is engrained in their motor pathways and if they have a good sense of space without visual cues.

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