Monday, November 23, 2009

When Cursive Handwriting Comes to Play

Even before I had Montessori girls, I looooooved the Montessori garage sale that the school holds every spring--in the National Guard Armory, it's so big. At a garage sale hosted by a fancy-pants private school that's at the same time so child-centric and child-led, you can expect to find loads of not just once-expensive snowsuits and excellent books and all the other stuff wealthy parents provide for their kids, but wooden toys and dress-up clothes and well-cared-for board games and puzzles and craft kits and fabulous educational materials, as well.

Last year, among some of my random (and REALLY cheap purchases--another benefit to the sale is that parents work it, and some of them have NO IDEA how to price thing) purchases were a drill-operated lathe and a complete set of large cursive sandpaper letters, mounted nicely on wood. I had figured that I would either end up crafting or decorating with these letters, or that they'd come out to play only much later in my children's lives, after, you know, they both knew their print letters, for instance.

However, Willow found this alphabet during the massive study/studio reorganization and asked that they be put as a choice on the shelves in their bedroom. I complied, and there they sat for an additional long while, but this weekend I guess the urge finally hit (don't you know that feeling?), and Willow suddenly came up with a slew of activities that she wanted to do with the letters.

Since Willow doesn't know her cursive a from her cursive z, Momma got to help, and it was quite fun.

First, Willow wanted to make a "long line," so I gave her the letters, one by one in alphabetical order, showed her how to trace it with her finger (sandpaper letters are big in Montessori, so Will has this concept down cold), had her tell me what sound(s) the letter makes, and then she put it in its place in the line:
There were a few moments of angst when it was discovered that t was missing, but at last it was found, safe and sound, in the car (?).

Then Will wanted to play "games" with the letter line, so while I sat all nice and comfy down past z, I'd tell Willow what letter I wanted her to point to, then release her to run as fast as she could down the line, point to the letter, and run as fast as she could back to me, where I'd catch her:
After a while this transitioned to me spelling out a simple word (bed, say, or cat) and sending her running to point to all the letters in order, then after she ran back to me and I'd caught her she would sound out the word she'd just spelled.

And all I had to do was sit on my butt!

Will's next big plan was to draw all the letters on a really long piece of paper. The really long piece of paper we had (of course!), but I wasn't sure if Willow had yet seen in her classroom how you could do rubbings with the sandpaper letters, so I showed her how, and it was such a big hit, waaaaaay more satisfying than leaf rubbings for little hands, that drawing all the letters was immediately abandoned and instead each letter was traced in its place on the long letter line: Each in a different color, of course:
And after that I foisted off on Matt the next project, which was to write underneath the line, in handwriting "very pretty," the verse "Now I know my ABCs; next time won't you sing with me?".

And then Matt made us popcorn and margaritas (virgin for the littles, saucy for the bigs), and we all got into bed and watched the old-school Doctor Dolittle until half of us fell asleep--Willow and I, unfortunately, which was probably not exactly the half that Matt had planned on when he made me a nice margarita, but what can you do?

Tonight perhaps we'll try an early bedtime for the littles, and THEN margaritas.

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