Is Teaching Printing Still Important?

Is Teaching Printing and Handwriting Still Important In This Digital Age?

Teaching Printing

Teaching Printing

Increasingly more students are arriving in our classrooms never having the opportunity to hold a pencil, coloring and cutting with scissors and fine-motor skills are lagging.  I have certainly noticed a significant decline since I started teaching 34 years ago. This blog post is meant to address some of these concerns.  How often do you hear, “children do not need to know how to print because they will just learn to type.”  Research has been done in this area and supports the importance of still learning to print


Importance of Learning to Print – Correlates to Learning to Read

A 2012 study showed that young children who attempted to write letters on a blank piece of paper demonstrated similar brain functionality used by adults when reading and writing.  Children who only traced letters or shapes with dotted lines, or those who typed the letter on the computer showed no such effect.  Their brain functionality for activating the same skill level was much weaker.


Printing and Writing Results In Better Retention

The video below discusses how printing/writing results in better retention.


Handwriting Versus Typing

Handwriting Versus Typing

Teaching Printing In Relation to Learning Letters and Sounds

The research above confirms the importance of teaching printing in conjunction with learning letters and sounds.  There is such a huge connection between learning letters and sounds and printing the letter.



In conclusion, the importance of learning to print should not be overlooked even in this digital age.  I believe even more research is going to become available showing the same outcomes.  Below I have posted a few printing “Literacy Centers” ideas.


Literacy Games That Promote Fine-Motor and Letter Learning

The game displayed below was one of my student’s favorite Literacy Center games. I place the picture circle graph in a paper plate so the top would not roll off.  The students must twist the spinner (great for fine-motor) and print the letter represented by the picture the spinner lands on.

Spinning Alphabet Board Game

Spinning Alphabet Board Game

Roll, Count, Move and Print Game

This is a great game to assist in letter learning and printing and also incorporates math. Students roll a die and move their game player accordingly. They must print the letter that represents the sound of the picture they landed on.

Literacy Center Game

Literacy Center Game

Draw and Print

As a member of the Kinderplans site you have access to 156 alphabet picture cards.  The students would draw a picture card and print the letter represented.


Draw and Print

Draw and Print

CVC Word Printing

As a member of the site you will have access to 45 CVC picture cards.  Students can make words as displayed in the photograph below.


Making CVC Words

Making CVC Words

More Literacy Center Ideas

In the link below you can find more Literacy Center ideas.


>More Literacy Center Ideas


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Printing and Literacy Centers

Fine-Motor Skills

Pencil Grasps

Pencil Grasps

It is not uncommon for students to enter our classrooms never having the opportunity to hold a pencil, cut with scissors or unable to print their names.  The first few weeks or even a month is devoted to addressing these concerns and writing expectations must reflect this.  Unfortunately, in the computer age many students are arriving with even more delayed fine-motor abilities than in the past.  This does not make our jobs easier in moving forward faster.


When Are Children Ready For Formal Printing Instruction?

According to occupational therapists, children are not ready to learn formal printing until they are between the ages of five and six years old.  This creates a problem in many classrooms today as expectations to write increase.  I think with reasonable expectations, children at the kindergarten level can learn printing but not within a formal setting.  This will vary according the age of entry.


What Are Reasonable Expectations?

Some students will arrive in your classroom with proper pencil gasp, while others are still not fully developed. The link below is a great site that outlines the stages in which children develop proper pencil grasp.  I have witnessed all these different grasps.  After learning this information, I was no longer really concerned about the pencil grasps I was witnessing (our Kindergarten children are ages 4-5).


Stages in Developing Proper Pencil Grip


Does Proper Pencil Grip Guarantee Good Printing?

Proper printing grasp does not necessarily guarantee that a child will be able to print correctly but it is a first step.  There are so many other factors that come into play.


Does This Mean We Do Not Teach Printing In Kindergarten?

Practicing on Dry Erase Board Not A Proper Pencil Grasp

Practicing on Dry Erase Board
Not A Proper Pencil Grasp

Given curriculum expectations, this would not be an option for many.  Since there is such strong correlation between writing and learning the letters and sounds, I still taught my students proper letter formation (some of my students were four year olds).   Students who are able to apply what they know about letters and sounds in their writing have a much greater understanding of the alphabetic principle.  The fact that children are not developmentally ready for formal printing instruction until age five, did not deter me from still teaching it, I just lowered my expectations.

We often practiced printing the letters on dry erase boards with large erasable markers. I didn’t expect them to have perfect letter formation and pencil grasp at this point.  The sole purpose was making that physical connection with the letter.  By the end of Kindergarten, the majority of my students had proper pencil grasp and could print the letters correctly.  Many could also print CVC words because they learned about segmenting letters through phonemic awareness activities and printing. They were now ready to enter into grade one where they would receive more formal reading and printing instruction.


Literacy Center Games

Free Resources, Fine-Motor and Literacy Center Ideas

I often incorporated fine-motor activities into my Literacy Centers.  In the link below you will find ideas for your Literacy Centers and free resources!


Literacy Center and Fine-Motor Activities and Free Resources


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Informational Content Plans

Focus on Informational Content

In the recent years there has been more concentration on the importance of students being able to read and understand informational content.   This has certainly become evident in recent curriculum changes.  The “Zoo” theme offers an ideal opportunity to address meeting your “R.I.K” outcomes.


Read Aloud

Reaad Aloud

Zoo Informational Content Theme Read Aloud

The focus theme for these last two weeks is  “Zoo” and I thought I would share some of the activities that have proven to be valuable to my learners.

Shared Reading

Shared Reading

The literature selection  “Good Night Gorilla” by Peggy Rathmann is used as a read aloud to introduce the focus zoo animals.


Shared Reading

I project the emergent reader (a simple retelling of the literature selection) on my Smart Board and  model the reading process.


Word Work

This  is one of the final themes used to introduce the letters of the alphabet and their related sounds.  The letters “Gg for gorilla and Zz for zoo and zebra” are introduced within the context of reading the story.  Word work activities focus on these letters, as well as, all the letters previously introduced.  If you have followed my previous blog posts you will know that I run four rotating “Literacy Centers”.  These change every week.


Literacy Center One

Students practice printing the letters “Cc and Gg” and then complete their printing books found in the link below:


 Printing Booklet

Alphabet Letter Review Game

Alphabet Letter Review Game


Literacy Center Two – Review of All Letters

In this game, student partners take a turn rolling a die and moving their game players accordingly.  They must print the letter on the dotted sheet provided, representing the picture they landed on.


Literacy Center Three – Spin and Rhyme

Spin and Rhyme Game

Spin and Rhyme Game

The playing partners take a turn twisting a spinner.  They place a marker on the matching rhyming picture.


Literacy Center Four – CVC Activities

CVC Game

CVC Game

I work with this group of students, assisting them in hearing sounds within CVC words.  I draw a picture card and students are to print the CVC word represented on their individual dry erase boards.  Some of my students can print the entire word and others only the initial sound.

If you are a member, login to your account, go to reading on the main menu and scroll down to “Literacy Centers” to access the CVC picture cards.


Guided Reading – Interactive Version

The black and white version of the reader “Zoo Escape” would be used for guided reading.  I like using the interactive versions of the readers.  In this reader the students are required to cut and paste the correct picture of the zoo animal identified in the text.

Interactive Guided Reading

Interactive Guided Reading


Craft and Writing

Craft and Writing

Writer’s Workshop and Follow-up Craft Activity

Each day I read a book to my students and/or we watch a video (YouTube search) gathering information about the focus zoo animals.  The students would then write a sentence about what they learned in relation to a specific focus zoo animal.  They would complete the project as displayed in the photograph to the left.


This Month’s Fabulous Freebies

Zoo Animal Puppet Templates

Zoo Animal Puppet Templates

The students will really enjoy making these cute zoo animal stick puppets.  The masks can be integrated into your drama program where the children can move and make sounds like the animals.  These specific templates would be used to make stick puppets.  If you are a member of the site the prepared sized templates will be provided.


Zoo Animal Templates


More Zoo Related Activities


More Zoo Theme Activities


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A Balanced Literacy Lesson Plan

Balanced Literacy Model

Balanced Literacy Model

I have always been a big fan of integrating key learning concepts and subject areas in my language arts daily lesson plans.  This allows me to be more efficient in meeting the curriculum outcomes.  All my plans take a balanced literacy approach to teaching these concepts.  More information on a balanced literacy approach can be found in the link below:


Balanced Literacy Approach to Teaching Reading


Balanced Literacy Lesson Plan for November

The focus theme for November is on Pets and How Animals Prepare for Winter (Science Connection).  Outlined below is how I follow the balanced literacy approach to teaching reading.  Following this model makes my planning so much easier.Wanna Iguana


Read Aloud

This year I chose to use the book “I Wanna Iguana” as my read aloud to introduce this theme.  Within the theme unit (Pets Theme)  there are a number of suggestions but this is the one I chose.  This is a great book to use to understand the power of persuasion.  It also introduces the concept of the responsibilities involved in looking after a pet.  In the link below is a video reading of the book.


Video Reading of the Book “I Wanna Iguana”

The Best Pet Reader

The Best Pet Reader


Follow-up Shared Reading

I will be using the color version of the reader “The Best Pet” as a shared reading experience which is a follow-up to reading the book.  I will project it on the Smart Board for all the students to see.  I will introduce letters and their related sounds within the context of reading it  (Dd for dog, Cc and Kk for cat and Ii for iguana).  Any focus sight words could also be introduced.


Word Study

The Literacy Centers outlined in the link below all incorporate the the Word Study Component of the balanced literacy approach.


Daily Literacy Centers


Interactive Black and White Version of The Best Pet

Interactive Black and White Version of The Best Pet

Interactive Guided Reading

I use the interactive black and white versions of the readers (same one used for shared reading).  At this point, the students are still learning to track words and recognizing few sight words.  They absolutely love completing the interactive component of the readers and this adds a comprehension and fine-motor element to their reading.  The students are to cut and paste the correct pet that is mentioned in the text.  They can match the underlined word with the word printed on the picture.  This is a good visual discrimination activity.

Independent Reading

Once the students have read the reader during shared and guided reading, many of them will be able to read it independently.


Research and Vocabulary Development – Would An Iguana Be A Good Pet?

Since many of my students would not be a familiar with what an iguana is, we will need to do more research and add this to their vocabulary background.    I have used the videos below as a base for this research. This will help them to decide if they feel and iguana would be a good pet.

Information Videos About Iguanas


Modeled, Shared and Interactive Writing

I will model  writing what pet I would like or have as a pet.  After, I will model what the students dicate on chart paper.  As I am writing we often “share the pen”.  If they know a beginning letter sound of word that I am going to print, I will allow them to come forward and print it.


Guided Writing

Guided Writing

Guided Writing

After, the students will complete their own writing with guidance.  Could provide a template for this.

I want a __________ for a pet.

I have a ___________ for a pet.

I would like a ___________.


More Ideas for the Pets Theme

This is just a small sample of what activities you can engage your students in within the Pets Theme.  In the link below you will find more ideas.


More Ideas for Pets Theme


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First Weeks of Pre-K Lesson Plans

Library-LionThis is a new mini-literacy unit that I just created and plan to use for the first week of school.  It is a great unit to use to introduce school, library and class rules.  The unit is based on the literature selection “Library Lion”.  The video below would be a follow-up to the reading the book and the activities outlined within this theme.


Library Lion Video


Follow-up Emergent ReaderScreen Shot 2014-05-25 at 9.46.24 PM

My mini-literacy themes include a follow-up emergent reader that is meant to be used for shared, guided and home reading purposes.  Each reader has been specifically designed to introduce specific reading skills within the story context.  The reader “Lion Likes to Read” was specifically designed for this purpose.  It follows a patterned story line that enables your young learners to read it on their own once it has been introduced and practiced during shared and guided reading time. The cover page is shown on the right.  The purpose of this reader is to:

1.  Initiate a discussion on what the students enjoy reading about.

2.  Introduce what a word is and promote tracking from left to right.

3.  Modeling the reading process.

4.  Introduce the initial sounds and letter names of “Ll and Bb”.

5.  Possible introduction of sight words:  “the” and “to”

The reader is available in color, black and white, interactive version where the students cut and paste the picture that represents the print.


Follow-up Literacy Centers

Follow-up Literacy Center activities and templates are also included.  I always have four or five Literacy Centers that my students rotate to.  This system works for me.


Literacy Center One

Matching Letter Board Game

Matching Letter Board Game

Using the game board displayed in the photograph, the students can use the letters provided to:

1.  Draw and match them to the ones displayed on the board.

2.  Match upper-case letter partners to the lower-case letters displayed on the board.

3.  Place the alphabet cards in correct alphabet order on the blank board.Screen Shot 2014-05-25 at 9.48.51 PM

This activity was intentionally designed to vary in difficulty so that it can be used throughout the year.


Literacy Center Two

Draw and Print

Players would draw picture cards and determine if the picture begins with the “Ll or Bb” sound and print these letters on the template provided.


Literacy Center ThreeSpin-Top-Game

Spin and Print

The  top would be spun and the players would print the letters “Ll or Bb” accordingly.


Litearcy Center Four

Sight-Word-SpinnerSpin and Say Sight Word Game

Sight words would be printed on the template provided and the players would spin the top and read the words where the top lands.


Writing and CraftCraft-Wrting

Templates for this follow-up writing and craft activity are found within the mini-theme.  You will also need a head shot of your students.  Steps for completing the craft are outlined below:

1.  The students color book template.

2.  Draw a picture of what they like to read about on the template provided.  This would be cut out and glued to the front of the book template.

3.  Hands template would be photocopied on manila cardstock, cut and glued to the book template.

4.  Glue the head shot behind the book template.

5.  Complete the writing on what they enjoy reading about.  Younger students can have the words scribed for them.


Where Can You Access the Mini-Literacy Theme?

This Mini-Literacy theme has been added to the “About Me” theme found in the link below:


About Me Theme 


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Pre-Kindergarten Guided Reading

 Guided Reading 

Initially when I started teaching kindergarten I couldn’t foresee how guided and shared reading would become such a critical part of my teaching day.  Now most of my key literacy skills are taught within implementing these.


Pretend Reading

The majority of kindergarten children enter your classroom not being able to read or even understanding the process. Exposing them to predictable emergent readers allows them to pretend read from memory based on repetition of print and picture clues.   My students beam when they finish reading to me.  I say, “I can’t believe that you can read after the first week of kindergarten!”


My Guided Reading Lesson for This Week

Connection to Literature

Many of the emergent readers are a simple retelling of a literature selection.  The focus literature selection for the upcoming week will be “Rainbow Fish”.  This is a great book to use to address the concept of sharing and to introduce the related emergent reader.


Shared Reading –  Rainbow Fish RetellingRainbow-Fish-Emergent-Reader

I project the color version of the emergent reader on my Smart Board.  First we do a picture walk and predict what the story might be about.  I read the book to them and after we circle and read the words together, reinforcing the use of pictures to give us clues as to what the text reads.


Focus Skills

The reader is not only meant to introduce the reading process but also key learning concepts.  The following concepts will be introduced during shared reading time: what a word is,  letters “r” and “f” and their related sounds, sight word “a”, colors and color words.




Guided Reading

I don’t exceed six students during my guided reading group time.  Since we have read the selection over several times during shared reading, many of my students are able to pretend read the majority of the book.  During guided reading they circle the words and color the pictures according to the text.  This not only adds a comprehension and fine-motor component but most students complete this task at varying times, allowing me to focus on one student at a time.  They read the book to me (tracking the words they circled) and after read it to a friend and take it home to read to their parents.


What Do the Other Students Do During This Time?

Six students are with me, six students are with my assistant completing the rainbow craft outlined below.  The other half of the class are at “Developmental Centers”. I realize that many of you may be in different situations in terms of funding, level of assistance offered and working in a system that does not necessarily value the importance of “Developmental Centers” so I have outlined two possibilities.


 Developmental Centers

I call these “Deveopmental Centers” also once known as “Play Centers”.  However, since the term “play” and its level of importance has been removed from many classrooms (sad),  I still feel many teachers could easily justify using the ones below because they significantly impact a child’s development, certainly more than the use of worksheets.

Megformers1.  Lego, blocks and other construction toys which help develop a child’s ability to problem solve, use logic, be creative  and further develop fine-motor skills.  I love going into a teacher/parent store and exploring all the new construction toys that have come out in the last few years.  I want to buy them all.  Each year, we add to our collection of good quality construction toys because many homes do not have these and I see so much learning potential.  Our newest purchase is “magformers”.  I am still waiting  for them to arrive.

2.  Play dough

3.  Puzzles

4.  Writing and Drawing – at this center we place crayons, pencils, scissors, paper and simple step by step how to draw sheets.  Once the students have been shown how to use the sheets, they get good at using them independently.

5.  Computers - simple games

6.  Creative Craft – At this center there are many odds and ends from left over crafts and what outsiders provide for us.  I recently found a large bag of small beads in our storage closet to add to this center.  I threw in some pipe cleaners and my students have been busy creating necklaces, bracelets, and rings.  I will later challenge them to create a pattern (adding a math component).  What better way to improve fine-motor development and understanding patterning?

7.  Library –  I am very fortunate to have a huge selection of books related to all our themes.  We have a quiet and comfortable space where students can explore books.


Literacy Centers

I know many teachers run their “Literacy Centers” during guided reading time.  For my students, this would not be independent enough that I could comfortably run a guided reading group at the same time.  Also, since my “Literacy Centers” are based on my students practicing what they learned during “Circle or Shared Reading Time” I feel it is important for me to assess and monitor what they have learned.  My “Literacy Centers” for this week are outlined below.  Each “Literacy Group” has five to six students and I have them rotate from station to station.  I duplicate the activities so that they are played with set partners.


Printing Book – Group 1

Complete printing book “r and f” and stamp pictures beginning with that sound.  Printing book found in link below:

Printing Book


Sound-Soring-GameObject or Picture Sorting – Group 2

My students will be digging into the rice or soy bean tactile tubs for objects to determine if they begin with “Ll,  Hh,  Rr or Ff” sounds.  If I do not have enough objects representing a sound, I use picture cards laminated on cardstock instead (found in the “All About Me” theme).


I recently purchased soy beans from the “Bulk Barn”.  It was the cheapest I could find for creating another tactile tub.  My students really enjoy this experience.


Spin and Print – Group 3

Spin and Print

Spin and Print

Students take turns spinning a top and printing the letters “r and f” depending on what picture the top lands on.


sightwordgamefampetsSight Word Focus Game – Group 4

This would be similar to the game above but only with focus sight word.


Alphabet Ordering and Matching – Group 5

I have all the alphabet letters in the correct order in pocket charts.  The lower-case letters are printed on poker chips.  The students must match the poker chips to the correct letter found within the pocket charts.  I have three pocket charts (2 students working at each chart). They are encouraged to say the name of the letter, if they know it).  Later in the year, I will have them put the alphabet letters in the correct.


Rainbow - Craft

Rainbow – Craft

Follow-up Craft – Rainbow Using Pastels

Since this week we are talking about “Rr” for rainbows and colors, I decided to have the students do the craft displayed in the photograph. They cut and colored the rainbow using pastels.  This also required them to become familiar with color words found on the rainbow template.  The template is found in the link below:


Note:  This PDF file can be copied off on 11 X 14 paper to enlarge it.


Rainbow Craft Template 


Fabulous Freebies 

Each newsletter I offer a “Fabulous Freebie”, in the link below you will find an emergent reader related to fall.


Fall Emergent Reader


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