Reading and writing and toddlers! Oh my!

Posted by: NowWhat

Reading and writing and toddlers! Oh my! - 06/03/15 08:00 AM

For the last 5-6 weeks my son (20 months) has been very interested in writing letters and words. As in, if you hand him a crayon, that's AAAAALLLLL he wants to do and he ask for his crayons to write 5-6 times a day. The major problem is that he does not have the motor skills to write yet and he is getting very frustrated. He can do O/o, I, M, a decent A, and a sort of Y and X depending on the day. I kind of wish he was happy scribbling but he is not. smirk If I give him a fat crayon for toddlers he has the typical fist grip but if I give him a thin crayon or pencil he uses a five finger grip which does help but he still doesn't have the coordination to really write.

I've been all over Pinterest and found Montessori sand trays for writing and wondered if anyone had used this with toddlers who were determined to write? I thought it might work since he would only have to use his finger. I also saw sandpaper letters but since he wouldn't have a final product of a letter I don't think he would go for that one.

The next crazy thing going on around here is "Mommy, write word in here." He constantly wants me to write words in his notebook with his crayons. I showed him his name and he got it in about 10 seconds. He definitely recognizes his name now and he has been recognizing words in his favorite books for a while so I know the ability exists at this point. I'm trying to follow his lead but I don't have a good idea of where to go. His favorite things are dump trucks, excavators, and bulldozers. Those words seem too complex and too long for such a young child to recognize. I thought about showing him stuff like dog and cat but I don't think he cares even a little about a dog or a cat. I'm happy to teach him words since he is showing interest and ability but I don't know where or how to start. Any ideas?
Posted by: cmguy

Re: Reading and writing and toddlers! Oh my! - 06/03/15 08:13 AM

How about letter stamps? And lined paper? Not sure if that is age appropriate or not - but the letter stamps give you something to trace over. We have used very stubby crayons made for doing rubbings and these seemed helpful.

Maybe fridge magnets? Or sight word stickers on the wall (you can light them up with a flashlight in a dark room to add an element of drama ...)
Posted by: ashley

Re: Reading and writing and toddlers! Oh my! - 06/03/15 08:41 AM

Fridge magnets are great to start making words at that age. I remember that I used to make a new word every morning and my DS used to come into the kitchen and try to read the new word and then we had discussions about what it was and how to pronounce it etc.
Posted by: ljoy

Re: Reading and writing and toddlers! Oh my! - 06/03/15 08:46 AM

Word books? We had entire series of board books that were just a single picture with a word, organized by theme, that we got from the library. Animals, construction machines, household items, etc.

We never liked fridge magnets, we never had enough sets to really spell with and they take up the entire fridge. Scrabble tiles work well, though. There's also a game called What's Gnu? that we used the tiles from; they are thin, plastic, have up/down clearly marked, and the letters are nearly 2" tall.
Posted by: aquinas

Re: Reading and writing and toddlers! Oh my! - 06/03/15 08:52 AM

Don't worry about complex words. He'll treat them like sight words.
Posted by: cricket3

Re: Reading and writing and toddlers! Oh my! - 06/03/15 08:58 AM

What cmguy said. Fridge magnets, letter blocks, stamps, alphabits cereal, alphabet pasta, etc. Maybe try paint? DD loved a big easel with rolls of paper, chalk on the driveway, "painting" with water on the driveway or side of the house, shaving cream on the wall of the tub/shower. Finger paints or "painting" with pudding are also fun.

Our DD was similar, and at 3 went to a Montessori- many of the first activities are designed to support the early motor skills needed for writing. We did lots of clay and play-do type stuff, DD hated pin-punching but it has a similar goal, sewing cards and lacing-type activities, eventually moving to real sewing, lots of scissor-crafts, Lego and other building requiring hand strength- all can be helpful (though frustrating to a kid whose motor lags behind their brain).
Posted by: polarbear

Re: Reading and writing and toddlers! Oh my! - 06/03/15 08:59 AM

I'm on my phone - so I hope this comes out without a ton of oddly spelled words lol!

My kids were all in Montessori and they loved the writing in sand. Also wrote in shaving cream and loved that. Also had things called rainbow letters where there were large letters on paper written three times almost on top of each other in three different colors and the kids had to trace each letter in each color. My kids loved to paint when they were toddlers so you could have him paint big letters and then put them together into words. Sidewalk chalk is also fun and you. An write really large. I wouldn't worry about pencil size and grip yet - neither did our preschool. One thing I did for my ds was I would make "books" for him just out of construction paper that were about whatever he wanted me to write about -bulldozers,pizza, whatever. I didn't worry if a word was too big.

We also read read read read to our kids -especially when they were toddlers. That's basically how my ds learned to read -just watching us read, no matter how complicated the book.

And our kids loved refrigerator magnets too -

Have fun!

Posted by: cmguy

Re: Reading and writing and toddlers! Oh my! - 06/03/15 09:17 AM

Since it's summer how about giant sidewalk chalk?
Posted by: ChaosMitten

Re: Reading and writing and toddlers! Oh my! - 06/03/15 09:25 AM

It sounds like he might enjoy phonics instruction.
Posted by: NGR

Re: Reading and writing and toddlers! Oh my! - 06/03/15 09:35 AM

NowWhat, a Montessori school would be perfect for your child when he's ready for school.
Posted by: bluemagic

Re: Reading and writing and toddlers! Oh my! - 06/03/15 09:43 AM

I love most of the suggestions above. In addition I would keep scribing for him. The preschool my kids attended this was a normal activity for them, the kids would draw pictures and the adults would be scribes for their stories about the pictures.
Posted by: NowWhat

Re: Reading and writing and toddlers! Oh my! - 06/03/15 10:56 AM

These are great ideas. I think the shaving cream will go over really well. We have lots of sidewalk chalk and we use it when we are home (currently out of town) and DS loves it but can't handle it very well so he struggles to draw what he wants to draw. I may also try paint once it warms up and he can go outside in a diaper. I wouldn't exactly call my son a neat individual so I can't even fathom paint in the house.

I've got some fridge magnets that I can start using. I hope he lets me use them since his focus seems to be on writing the word. My husband and I both find it odd since DS does not see us writing very often. We keep our lists on our phones or type on a computer. The drive is strong with our little dude I guess!

As always with my DS I am flabbergasted at his cognitive development. It seems so weird to me that he is showing such a strong and intense desire to write and read at such a young age. The other kids we know are beginning imaginative play and there is my kid is focused on letters and books. I was really looking forward to imaginative play so perhaps it will come later when he decides that's what he wants to do.
Posted by: NowWhat

Re: Reading and writing and toddlers! Oh my! - 06/03/15 11:00 AM

Originally Posted By: Portia
Ooohhh - another fun thing to do with sounds (which are the basis of words, right?)- we used to drum a 4 beat on the floor or with sticks, whatever - just so long as we had a goof 4 beat. Then we would sing vowel sounds and call it the vowel song. We would say the letter, then both sounds it makes. DS would dance (ok - bounce) to his heart's content. We also did this same 4 beat drum/dance to some of the Dr. Seuss books. A great one for that is "Hand, Hand, Finger, Thumb".

I really just LOVED this age.

This sounds like so much fun! I'm a big believer in engaging the whole body when learning so bouncing and singing is something I will try!
Posted by: Platypus101

Re: Reading and writing and toddlers! Oh my! - 06/03/15 01:35 PM

Here are a few of our favourite things:

Definitely fridge magnets. I frequented out local consignment store and probably had a dozen sets - enough to write long messages to the kids each morning, and for them to help create new ones for Daddy in the afternoon (and greetings for expected visitors).

We loved the Leap Frog Word Whammer, but apparently it's now worth it's weight in gold?! There must be a modern equivalent.....

Easel with whiteboard/ paper roll. Endless large scribble potential. And if you unroll the paper on the floor, you can really go for miles.

Finger paint with pudding. Oh yes, I am serious!

Dry erase marker books, lots of different kinds, with puzzles, hangman, traceable letters and words - whatever you like. Random sample:

"B is for Bulldozer":

Oh, have fun! Such a cool age.
Posted by: SLO

Re: Reading and writing and toddlers! Oh my! - 06/03/15 04:25 PM

Can’t add a lot here, but want to sympathize with you on the “Mommy, write this!” phase. My son was a little over 2 years old when he started asking me to write numbers on any available piece of paper. He would say the number, and I would write it. Long lists of numbers that would go on into the hundreds. Terribly boring for mama, but oh so delightful for the child.

I got those bendable wax sticks for “art making” when we went out to eat, but of course he wanted them shaped into numbers and letters. He never had any interest in Legos or play dough… except to make them into (you guessed it) numbers and letters. smile

We had many sets of the Melissa & Doug letter and number magnets, and a very long, metal coffee table from CB2, so he could play with making equations and words in the living room rather than on the kitchen floor.

Seconding (or thirding) the writing in shaving cream. Also, “water painting” with wet brushes on outside surfaces.

I will say, when he finally started writing his own letters and numbers at around 3.5, his penmanship was lovely. All that studying!

As others have said, have fun! smile
Posted by: GGG

Re: Reading and writing and toddlers! Oh my! - 06/12/15 11:04 PM

This brings back memories! At 3, our DS began writing for 5 hours a day until he felt that he had learned how to write. Now he spends a few hours a day making books, doing math and drawing-it's awesome! I get to enjoy it and not be the on-demand scribe. I know this stage feels like you are just scrambling to give them a way to match his cognitive skills with the much younger fine motor but soon it will begin to mesh and it's really special to see them finally express themselves.
Posted by: Cookie

Re: Reading and writing and toddlers! Oh my! - 06/13/15 04:32 AM

Magna doodle!!!!

Big ones, travel ones can't have too many magna doodles at this stage
Posted by: cricket3

Re: Reading and writing and toddlers! Oh my! - 06/13/15 04:34 AM

Originally Posted By: Cookie
Magna doodle!!!!

Big ones, travel ones can't have too many mag a doodles at this stage

Posted by: NowWhat

Re: Reading and writing and toddlers! Oh my! - 06/13/15 12:47 PM

Hubby is off to get a magna doodle today. We played with one at the library this week and he loved it! For whatever reason he isn't interested in the fridge magnets. I have had a set for a while but he shoves them in a box and walks away. He seems to prefer the wooden letters that go in the Haba alphabet puzzles we have. DS is like a moth to the flame when it comes to puzzles so that could be part of his preference.

This age is really something else and my son frequently leaves people scratching their heads about what he can do. I'm due with #2 in December so I'm trying to soak it all in now before I have to balance two little ones.
Posted by: CoachNTaxi

Re: Reading and writing and toddlers! Oh my! - 09/22/15 10:38 AM

I'm new here and I am so excited to find other parents with extraordinary kids like mine. I've felt so alone before and didn't share much about my boy for fear that people would think I'm exagerating or that I'm forcing/drilling him at home with study time. My DS3 (just turned three) has been freaking us out since he could talk. He had mastered the alphabet (no matter case or font) when he was just one. He surprised us by saying the alphabet backward when he was 18 months (and was confused when I wasn't saying it with him - I don't know anyone who can). His favorite game at two was spelling the words he heard people say. He counts into the hundreds and in multiples. He LOVES to write and draw shapes (on his chalkboard, in notebooks, on scraps of paper). And of course read. And I mean all day if I'd let him. At two, I discovered in a store that he could read all sight words (even up to third grade) in one shot, and he wanted more. I recently figured out he can read books meant for 8-9 year olds (and he understands what he his reading). We haven't found just how far he can go yet.

I am pulling him from his "traditional" preschool/daycare and putting him in a Montessori preschool next month. He's been so bored at his traditional school. They let him read the circle-time books to the class when he was in the "2s room", but in the "3s room", he has to sit quiet while his agemates learn about letters, numbers, shapes and colors.

With Montessori offering classes like robotics for 5 year olds, I'm hoping he thrives there!

If any of you have any advice to share, please do!

Thank you!
Posted by: Ametrine

Re: Reading and writing and toddlers! Oh my! - 09/26/15 12:04 PM

Perhaps try one of the egg-shaped products. They obviously won't help with correct pencil holding technique, but may alleviate his frustration with control of letter formation.