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So after school I searched online for a large “sky, grass, dirt” picture that I could print out with lines on it.
Teach the Names of the Sections and Lines on the Paper Explicitly (Establish a Common Vocabulary) It dawned on me that I could teach the names of each section (and LINE!
) much more explicitly, and that we could practice what to call each line whole group!
Practice Similar Letters Together We felt that we needed to go back and reteach how to make the lower case h, n, m, and r because so many of our kids were confused on how to form them correctly.
Then we did all of the “Mud Letters:” the lower case g, j, p, q, and y.
Once everyone knows exactly what you mean by “sky,” “grass,” and “dirt/mud,” then you can easily tell a child, “Lower case P is a mud letter, so you have to start at the fence and draw its tail in the mud.” And for many of your kids, they may well understand exactly what you mean and be able to fix the incorrectly placed letter without further intervention from you!
Give Kids Time to Learn the Names of the Sections and Lines Whole Group I printed these three pictures out and put them in page protectors and showed the whole class the next day. You start here when you make capital letters.” I have always referred to the middle line as the fence. We start many lower case letters here.” And for the line at the bottom, I said, “And this line at the bottom is called the GRASS LINE. First I did it on the realistic lined paper, then the colored lined paper, and then the black and white lined paper.
I was also surprised to find that about a third of my kids forgot which line was the sky, the fence, and the grass after taking just a few weeks “off” from practicing weekly!
So don’t assume that once you’ve taught the common vocabulary you want to use, they will “own it” forever!
So in order to make things a bit easier, I remind them of certain things right before they begin writing a letter.
For example, I might call out, “Lower case g is a mud letter! ” Or, “Remember, the lower case m starts at the fence and is rounded, not pointy.” I keep a dry erase board handy so I can quickly demonstrate on it if needed.