8 great handwriting activities

Fun with handwriting practice
Put the fun into handwriting practice! From everyday shopping lists to rainy day bookmaking, there’s something to inspire children of all ages and interests to pick up a pencil, says teacher and mum-of-two Phoebe Doyle.

Handwriting activity: shopping lists

Brilliantly adaptable for different ages and stages. A three-year-old can draw what you need, a five-year-old can write down the initial sounds of each item and a nine-year-old can write it out fairly accurately. You could start by writing the list together, with your child simply being responsible for adding one or two items. Children love to follow this up with the trip to the shops, ticking the items off as they go around. There’s a real purpose, and it’s writing in action. And pretty handy too!

Handwriting activity: book reviews

Introduce children to the idea by finding book reviews of some of their favourite and most familiar books (online will be easiest) and reading them together. Then encourage them to write their own versions, or review some new books with you. Questions to answer include: Who were the main characters? What did they do? Did you enjoy the book? Why?

Handwriting activity: role play

Adults write for many purposes, at work as well as home. Encourage children to pretend to work at a bank, the post office or a travel agency. They will need to be jotting down facts and figures as they work!

Handwriting activity: ‘To do’ lists

Your child may like to ‘help’ by writing a ‘to do’ list for you for the day ahead. It might include: breakfast, school run, play group, baking biscuits, work, play, etc. Thinking they are being helpful is a great incentive for most children who are striving to be one of the grown-ups! Alternatively, they can write their own list for the tasks they have to complete.

Handwriting activity: menus

Challenge your child to come up with their own dream menu, including all their favourite dishes and treats. Alternatively you could tell them what culinary delights are in store for the day (most children we know ask about what they are having for lunch and dinner the moment they have finished their breakfast, anyway!) and they could write it out.

Handwriting activity: recipes

Again on the food theme, if you do a baking/cooking activity with your child, encourage them to write the recipe out afterwards. This could be in the form of a bullet-pointed list, in pictures or a mixture of both. Explain that it’s important that a recipe can to be followed by someone else, so including every step is crucial.

Handwriting activity: homemade books

While writing for real purpose should be the focus when children are learning to write, sometimes being creative just comes naturally. Some children write stories almost as soon as they can hold a pen, their imagination flowing and running wild. This should be encouraged. Don’t emphasise spelling accuracy as (that will come!), but rather focus on the creativity; cherish and nurture it. At school, due to time constraints, children are not always given the opportunity to just write freely. Unfortunately, in most school settings, the days of writing chapter after chapter of a story the child has chosen the theme for is a thing of the past. Some children really yearn for this sort of opportunity, so let them run free with their story ideas at home.

Other handwriting activities to try…

• Write notes to a friend
• Make up invitations to a party (real or imaginary)
• Plan a trip (where would you go, how would you get there and what would you see?)
• Write a list of items to take on holiday or bring to school
• Keep a diary
• Write to a penpal

Handwriting troubleshooting tips

Learning to write is more than just knowing how to form the letters – it’s important to help your child develop the coordination and fine motor skills they need to be ready to write properly. Read up on how your child learns to write, and find out what the problem areas are by learning to recognise dysgraphia.

Playing with toys such as Lego or clay can strengthen finger muscles, and watching how your child sits when they write can prevent arm, neck and shoulder pain from incorrect posture.

For more helpful hints on how to establish good handwriting practice at home,  check out this list of handwriting dos and don’ts. Find out ways to encourage, when to correct and how to have fun with writing!

If you're looking for some hands-on handwriting practice browse through our collection of handwriting worksheets to find the right one for your child.