Monday, March 19, 2012

Learning Letters With Puff Paint: Teach Kids to Read With Fun Activities

Learn Letters Using Home-made Puff Paint

As usual, I tend to stress and Hubby tends to tell me to simmer down.  Lately, I have noticed a strange tendency in my daughter when she writes letters and numbers...they are backwards.  I write a 3, she writes an E. The problem is, that she doesn't seem to know the difference.  Of course, my mind immediately goes to....What's wrong with her? Is this normal?

Hubby (who is a doctor, but an orthopedic surgeon so what does he know?) told me to ask my very smart friend and co-author, Susan Case, about it.  Susan is a former Kindergarten teacher and author and we are currently writing a book about activities and crafts to do with preschoolers.  She responded with:

It is normal for children to print letters in strange ways including backwards, upside down, and sideways when they are learning to print. Fine motor control comes after much practice and time to strengthen the finger and hand muscles and to develop a proper grip. Children begin experimenting writing letters with encouragement and praise. Their first and favorite word to learn to print is their first name. Help children learn to print their first name with only the first letter in upper case (this will make their teachers happy). Teach them to start at the top and go down with letters. For more information on teaching children to print their first name, you might enjoy this post.

Please do not stress yourself out, or your child, if they are not printing or learning letters correcting or reading before they enter Kindergarten. Jean Piaget, respected theorists on the stages of child development, believed:

1.     Not all children are ready to read at the same age and in the same manner,
2.    Not all children are ready to read before first grade,
3.    Not all children learn in the same manner, and
4.    Reading is a great deal more than decoding printed symbols on a page and mouthing words.

The most important role a parent can do for their child is to love them, fostering their self-esteem, and encouraging their natural love of learning. A parent’s responsibility is to provide opportunities for growth, respecting children as individuals capable of learning at their own pace, in their own time, and in their own way. Of course, it's always possible that your daughter might have a learning disability, but she is too young to worry about that now in regard to letter formation. Her kindergarten teacher will spend much time on the proper formation of letters. Children will be tested in school if a parent or teacher has concerns. Instead, I would just encourage you to gently introduce some simple ways to help your child learn fine motor control and reading skills.

I was very relieved to learn that this sort of thing was normal.  I told Susan I was game to try anything and she gave me a simple idea to try the next time I needed a rainy day activity.  I used my squeeze bottle paint recipe, which we like to do often.  It is simply 2/3 cup flour, 2/3 cup water, and 2/3 cup salt.  You can get your child to help you mix them together and then you fill up squeeze bottles with the mixture.

home-made puff paint, recipe,

Then add some dabs of paint to the top of each one and volia!  You have very fancy pens to practice writing!  I wrote various names lightly in pencil first and then she used the squeeze bottle to write them out.  She really had a lot of patience for this project and enjoyed doing her name and her friends' names. 

practice with letter, preschooler writing name

Even Little Buddy (almost 2) enjoyed himself.  He couldn't do the names of course, but he worked on his muscles while he squeezed out the paint and benefited from this sensory learning.

We are making progress and having fun while we do it.  Of course I want smarter kids, but really I just want cheap and easy crafts and this was it!  Thanks to Susan for the ideas!

If you liked this post, you will LOVE my new book (which is currently ranked#4 on Amazon in the category of Motherhood!).   If you have ever asked yourself questions like, these, then this is the book for you!
  • Why do my kids drive me so crazy sometimes?
  • Why do they just want to watch TV all day long?
  • How am I ever supposed to get anything done when my kids won't stop pestering me?
In this book, I teamed up with former Kindergarten teacher, Susan Case, and we worked together to give a Mom's point of view and a teacher's point of view, so that we could give you activities that not only keep the kids busy, but also keep them motivated to learn and develop their natural curiosity.

This video might help you understand a little more:

Here is what one of the reviews says on Amazon: "This book seriously saved my sanity. I've read a bunch of parenting books but this is literally the only one that actually gave me real and specific advice and ideas for things to do with my daughter. I'm a stay-at-home mom to a 2-year old and I was at my wits end trying to come up with ideas of fun, easy, creative things to do with her that will keep her busy and occupied and help her learn. I wasn't very good at following through on ideas that I heard about from friends or read in other books or online because they seemed too complicated (aka: messy!) but this book broke it down and made it so simple. I highly recommend it!"

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  1. Hi,
    While I agree that it is true that it is quite normal for children to write letters with reversals in them while they are learning to write, I see it as more of a development of visual perception rather than fine motor skills. A nice, strong, coloring and printing stroke indicates good fine motor skills. A "shaky" or wavy line, (made when a child is trying to draw a straight one,) is indicative of undeveloped fine motor skills.
    As children mature, their visual perception matures right along with everything else, and those reversals usually start to disappear in a normally developing child. In a child with dyslexia, those reversals persist and continue take over the page on into second grade and beyond.
    Heidi Butkus

  2. Thank you for the great tip. My daughter is 20 months, so i have a little while before we can do this.

    1. Thank you so much for this post. Now, it would be easier for me to teach them the basic education. Anyway, here are other different learning styles that I found too.

  3. Can you explain how you colored the paint? Did you use food coloring? How much color per oz.? Thanks!

  4. Hi Debi,
    I hope this note find its way to you! I tried to click on your name but couldn't find your email address Anyway, I just used tempura paint and put a big glob at the top of the mixture. I just kept squeezing until the entire top was covered and that seemed to do the trick. I have also used food coloring with water to do painting with straws and the bottles, so I'm sure food coloring would work too if you didn't have Tempura paint. I hope that helps!

  5. Another thing to look into is for the Spell to Read and Write program, HUGE eye opener! definitely read her Senate Speech. True phonics and Cursive First is how English was taught when we had a 99% literacy rate. Dyslexic tendancies are almost completely eliminated.

  6. I have also been told that kids that do not have a solid concept of left and right, up and down are more likely to make these mistakes. Have fun learning left and right. Make it a game to figure out directions. All learning through fun makes for happy campers ;)

  7. Another amazing parenting book that saved my life is The Incredible Years by Carolyn Pearson. It is based off of 25 years + of research and there is a professional preschool program and parenting classes based off of the information. I took the class 3 years ago and I still practice the habits I learned from it!

  8. Reading Buddy Software is advanced, speech recognition reading software that listens, responds, and teaches as your child reads. It’s like having a tutor in your computer

  9. Reading Buddy Software is advanced, speech recognition reading software that listens, responds, and teaches as your child reads. It’s like having a tutor in your computer

  10. Reading Buddy Software is advanced, speech recognition reading software that listens, responds, and teaches as your child reads. It’s like having a tutor in your computer

  11. Reading Buddy Software is advanced, speech recognition reading software that listens, responds, and teaches as your child reads. It’s like having a tutor in your computer

  12. Reading Buddy Software is advanced, speech recognition reading software that listens, responds, and teaches as your child reads. It’s like having a tutor in your computer

  13. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  18. This is a great activity for teaching children to read! It's a unique way to learn letters and words, and the use of puff paint makes it fun and engaging. online privacy important vpnblade Watching the letters puff up and become more visible helps kids understand the concept of reading, and it's a great way to get them excited about it.