Ok, so .....on to the tutorial for today!!!!
What's one of the first things we start to work on at the beginning of kindergarten?
Ok, no I don't mean how to make a line or sit still (although those are critical) - I'm talking about practicing writing letters and names. Learning letters and names is all about repetition, repetition, repetition. And that can get boring. Most kids will learn quickly, but what about those strugglers who seem to need TONS of repetition? Well, here is an activity that makes this repetitive practice FUN. It's not only fun, it's also great fine motor work - tactile learning at its best!
One activity I use to help my strugglers with letter formation, id, and simply fine motor skills is "Gelly Bags". Gelly bags are super simple to make and use, yet highly effective when used correctly.
I made a video to show you how I make mine. Go watch it (and be nice please)..... I used to make gelly bags and would just place the gelly bag over a letter card and trace. But I found that if they worked on the carpet or on a dark/spotted table, it was difficult for them to really see the letter. That defeated the entire point of tracing the letter (they needed to be able to focus on the letter). It was important they be able to clearly see the letter to trace it. So I find that if I back the gelly bag with white foam board, it doesn't matter where they work, they will be able to clearly see the letter!
It's also super easy to make! They will last a long time. I made a class set in under 30 minutes!
HOW TO MAKE: Pour colored hair gel (yeah the kind you put in your hair) in a Ziploc bag. I prefer to use the gallon-size bags because it allows you to use larger letters underneath. That is important for those struggling letter learners who are still working on fine motor control. Also, I suggest using the name-brand baggies because you don't want an accident mess everywhere. The name-brand baggies are thicker and more durable.
Simply pour the gel into the baggie (it uses almost half a bottle. You want enough to cover the whole bag when you flatten it, but not so much that the gel is too thick to see through. You also want to use a light-colored gel....The darker the gel - the harder it is to see the letter - defeating the whole purpose of the activity.....light pink, light yellow, light blue work great!
Next, squeeze ALL the air out of the bag. This is uber important. When all the air is out, zip the bag up. Use clear packing tape to tape the bag to the foam boards (I wrap the zipper edge around the top part of the foam board (the video shows how). Tape it really good with packing tape. Squish the bag flat. Bam!! You are done!
HOW TO USE: Choose a letter that you are teaching. Place the letter under the gelly bag (between the gelly bag and the foam board). Model how kids should form the letter with their finger. Be sure to remind them to use the pad of their finger - not their finger tip. There is 2 very good reasons for this: 1. Fingernails can snag the bag. (Trust me...I speak from experience) and 2. Using the pad of their finger is more effective for proper muscle memory.
I promised a freebie and I shall deliver. It is SUPER simple....but I needed simple, clear, and large letters to use with my "gelly bags". I figured if I needed them surely someone else would too.
Click HERE to grab the gelly bag letters:
I hope this was helpful. What is something you do to help kids practice letters and names at the beginning of the school year?