Mellow Mummy: Penpals at Home - First Handwriting Books : Taking life as it comes...

Friday, 17 October 2014

Penpals at Home - First Handwriting Books

Penpals at Home is a range of write-on, wipe-off first handwriting books for preschoolers and infants school children from Cambridge University Press.

The Penpals at Home range of books are all designed to help children hone their handwriting skills in an intuitive manner.  Lara and Holly have been trying out Getting Ready for Handwriting and Forming Letters which are both really designed for children who are starting their journey into writing.

This is Getting Ready for Handwriting which is suitable for children of around 3-5 years old as a means of introducing careful hand control and the movements and disciplines needed to control a pen or pencil to form shapes.  The book features bright and colourful pages with patterns to trace that help to practice the patterns you would experience when writing different types of letters.

Each page of the book is laminated so that you can write on with a whiteboard pen and then wipe it off and try again.  This is perfect for us because, while Lara is honing the discipline of writing, Holly is just starting her journey and they can both gain experience from this book.

On each double page there is a section of notes for parents to explain what the patterns or letters are intended to practice, along with some tips of how to encourage your child and help them copy the lines in the right way.  There is also a little phone symbol that you can scan using your smartphone to show you how the patterns are intended to be traced through little animations.  The app is free and very easy to use in good light but Lara really struggles to get the image to scan when it is darker or shadier and will shout for me to help her.

Forming Letters is for slightly more advanced writers but still uses animals, dinosaurs, robots and other fun creatures to get your children writing.  The book allows you to trace letters using the instructions and the accompanying app to learn the correct order of the lines, and movement of the pen.  As you progress there is lots of free space to practice copying and repeating the letters.  In this book, the parental notes are really about ensuring that your child copies the letter shapes in the natural and traditional manner.

I think that both of these books are a great tool for preparation for school and I see myself using them a lot with Holly as she approaches school age.  I don't think I'd personally use the app much but I can see that Lara enjoys using the app and if it inspires her, then I'm happy to encourage it's use.

I'm glad to hear that future versions of these write-on / wipe-off handwriting books will include a pen because I struggled to find a whiteboard pen in the depths of my cupboards!

I'd also point out that Lara's school only teach cursive handwriting and so she found it counter-intuitive to practice writing in the Forming Letters book without leading and trailing tails.  I still think there is value in her practicing the tidy, round well-formed handwriting that these Cambridge University Press books encourage.

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