wikki stix and crayon bits: teach children letters and grip

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wikki sticx and crayon bits

Saturday is our swim class morning. After a well-orchestrated drop-off/swim/switch kids/swim more/ dry-off & change/ switch again routine that my husband and I have down to a science, I ended up with Maddy and Owen at home for the hour before lunch.

They needed a quiet, relaxing activity that was special for them–something that we can’t do on a normal day when Cora is with us. I grabbed something that turned out to be perfect.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Wikki Stix: I ordered the Alphabet Wikki Stix with my kids’ last Scholastic book order from their preschool.

    Wikki Stix are made of food-grade wax (found in lipstick and bubble gum) and a strand of knitting yarn. They’re bendy and a little sticky, and the set I have allows children to align the sticks to the letters of the alphabet.

Maddy and Owen were totally crazy excited at first, but then they settled into the quiet concentration of following the directional movement on the letter cards and matching their Wikki Stixto the letters.

Later, they branched off and tried to do their names and shapes and faces on the blank cards that came with the kit. Before we knew it, lunch was ready, and they both had spent the hour practicing and learning the shapes, curves, and lines of their letters!

I’m continually working with Owen on the proper grip for his crayons and pencils. Unlike Maddy and Cora, Owen has always insisted on holding his writing utensils with a fist-grip, and he refuses to alter his method.

I know that grip is something that definitely needs to be taught to preschoolers, so I did a little research on the best way to teach it. Surprisingly, the answer was right under my nose–and all around our house.

  • Crayon bits: After rest time today, I told my little ones that I had two big challenges for them. I brought out the container of our crummiest crayons–the oldest, most broken, and least-coveted box we have. I dumped them onto a cookie sheet that I use for play with magnetic letters, and I told Maddy, Owen, and Cora that their first challenge was to sort the crayons into color piles.

They yelled, screamed, hooted, and hollered and got to work quickly. When they had successfully sorted all the bits and pieces of crayons, I explained that these crayons were the most sad crayons around since no one likes to use them and that their second challenge was to try–as hard as they could–to write their names with as many bits as they could.

They had blank paper in front of them, and they ran with it. Everyone loves a challenge. And to my surprise, Owen was forced into the tripod grip (hooray!) without even realizing it. In five minutes, Maddy and Owen had written their names all over the paper with the now “happy” crayon bits, and Cora had scribbled all over her paper too.

***Here’s why this simple activity is so cool:

  1. Sorting: In any shape or form, sorting is super for the development of children’s development. “Categorizing is is a fundamental way that humans make sense of the world,” (Bear, D.R., Invernizzi, M., Templeton, S., & Johnston, F. (2003). Words their way: Word study for phonics, vocabulary, and spelling instruction, 3rd edition.UpperSaddle River, NJ: Merrill Publishers)
  2. Crayon bits: “Crayons create a natural resistance and build strength in the hand. Little pieces of crayon are perfect for little hands because they require children to use their fingertips correctly. . . ” (2005 Olsen, Jan Z., Handwriting Without Tears Program)

Okay, enough for now. Longer than I’d hoped, but I’m just so excited about how those little crayon bits really stepped up and helped us with our learning for today. . .


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