Motivating handwriting exercises

As today is National Handwriting Day, I thought it might be suitable to share a couple of the ways that we’re working on handwriting skills.

Handwriting is not something that’s been easy for Penguin, and it still isn’t. He’s had to work quite hard on developing his fine motor skills, and there was also a period of regression at one point.

As I’ve mentioned before, using exercises based around something that a person already has a keen interest in, is generally great for motivation. In Penguin’s case, these interests can be subjects such as animals or letters of the alphabet, or sensory preferences, such as water, sand, playdough etc. But perhaps the richest source of material for building learning activities around, are his favourite characters from tv shows and books.

Motivating Handwriting Exercises - Sensational Learning with Penguin #NationalHandwritingDay How to use special interests to motivate special learners! 2 examples for fine motor skills, litteracy, colours and handwriting.

Here are two simple examples relating to handwriting:

1. Homemade colouring pages


Years ago, my husband had the simple but brilliant idea of putting a blank paper up against the tv screen, where Penguin had paused a favourite sceen from a tv show he liked, and trace the outlines of a beloved character. Penguin then started asking us to do that with various pictures. He’d pause a dvd and get a pen and paper, and come and pull one of us to the screen.

More recently, we’ve started using that idea for making our own colouring pages. Colouring is a great way to practise those fine motor skills needed for handwriting, and if you chose to use very short (broken) crayons, it’s also a fantastic way to work on a decent pencil grasp!

On the picture above, Penguin is colouring in a bottle which the farmer in Shaun the Sheep produced when practising magic tricks… ๐ŸŽฉโœจ

2. Copying words or phrases from a favourite scene (or song, story, etc.)


In this example, pictured above, I’ve made a page showing Spencer from Balamory and his tubs of paints. Penguin isn’t actually a massive Balamory fan, but there are certain scenes that have really caught his attention. One of them features Spencer gathering up little tubs of paint while naming the colours: “Canary Yellow! … Sunburst Red, beautiful!” and so on. The colours I’ve included on this activity page are the same as in that scene, and as Penguin takes the labels off the velcro at the bottom, to place each on their matching tub, I call out the names the same way as Spencer does, which keeps Penguin interested. He also tries to fill in some of the words, which is brilliant considering that he’s nearly non-verbal.


Next follows the actual handwriting, with Penguin writing the names of the colours on each tub. We use an erasable pen, which can be easily wiped off the laminated page with a tissue. The letter “e” is a particularly tricky one for us, as you can see in the first picture above. But the stage we’re at now is a clear improvement on a couple of months ago, which in turn was already better than a few months before that. And as they say, it’s not how quickly you’re moving forward that matters most, but that you keep going. And as long as we stay motivated, we do!

Another thing we do a lot of, which helps developing hand strength and fine motor skills, is playdough. Here’s one of our recent playdough activities: Four Seasons Playdough Mats

And if you love Shaun the Sheep, just like us, you might like to work on motor skills and hand-eye coordination by making a pom-pom sheep

My Random Musings

Lucy At Home


34 thoughts on “Motivating handwriting exercises

  1. I like the idea of drawing over a screen of a tablet; that would work a treat with some of my children with SEN. Thanks. I feel a Minecraft session coming on! I always develop muscles when Iโ€™m trying to help with handwriting so those play dough mats are spot on. I also love pegs, tweezers and tongs. Xx #blogcrush

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your comment! Yes, playdough has been really useful for us lately ๐Ÿ˜Š And Minecraft sounds great, I’ve heard so much good about it and we’ve had a look at it but haven’t got into it yet. Thank you for reminding me about tweezers, tongs and pegs, there are so many fun things that can be done with those! Will just have to get my thinking cap on to figure out a few good ways to make it really motivating for our Penguin ๐Ÿ™‚ Xx

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great ideas. I’d also like to commend you for paying attention to what your child is watching! A lot of parents will just plunk their kids in front of the TV and be on their merry way. My Sweet Girl gets 20 minutes of tv before her nap (Paw Patrol) and we watch it together to spend some cuddle and quiet time.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for sharing this. I hadn’t connected colouring with handwriting skills (though it makes perfect sense now you’ve said it), or playdough (i’m now glad my kids play with this a lot). Thanks for sharing with #Thesatsesh

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Jenny! Yes, tracing from the tv is fab! I might not tell my hubby that you’ve called it ‘genius’, as it was his idea originally and his head is quite big enough as it is lol ๐Ÿ˜„๐Ÿ’•x


  4. #thesatsesh i feel the pain – little dude and picking up a pen are like ninjas and princesses, they just don’t go. So I’ve done some research and am using dysgrapha techniques with him at home. So far we have had huge success in progression when I get him to draw figure of eights – its painful, but as he gets better (so unbelievably slowly) it seems to be tightening up his left and right hand brain together and success is being seen across the board.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! It can be so frustrating and boring to work on handwriting, can’t it? So I like to make it less obvious that that’s actually what we’re doing ๐Ÿ˜Š Best of luck to your son, and he’s only little still, so try not to stress over it xx


  5. Some fun ideas for working on handwriting skills. Although I won’t be telling mine about the tv trick lol. My eldest is a leftie and he really struggles with handwriting still, definitely going to get him tracing over the Easter holidays #tacticaltuesdays

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Sarah, I hope your boy enjoys the activities! ๐Ÿ™‚ And try not to feel too stressed if it takes him some time to learn, or if he’s not ready yet. Just do some playdough, drawing, or whatever he enjoys, and let it take the time he needs x


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