Playroom rotation: Early writing skills

With mark-making coming up as the next steps for both boys at their progress meetings, and both being very typical of boys and not showing much interest in writing at all, I decided to rotate the playroom ready for half term with a focus on just that: writing!

We also included ‘activities’ which we normally wouldn’t have out because Daddy was home all week and with two adults around, we were better placed for doing all of those things.

We kept all of the basics;

  • Animals – Austin and Rory can often be found using animals to ride in the cars or trotting the elephants across the tracks. Its an addition to their play using their imagination. These can also be used for counting or to add props to stories.
  • Mr Potato Head – A great one for encouraging language development and so we always have this out. A good tool for intensive interaction and teaching body parts too.
  • Box of bits and bobs – this changes all of the time, it has old phones, TV remotes, glasses, party bag gadgets and just anything and everything to tease the curious mind.
  • Playdoh – A firm fave in our house, always accessible and can be used for in so many different ways with great benefits for fine motor skills, sensory development but also mixing colours, experimenting with shapes, using tools etc.
  • Books – we always have a full but organised bookshelf, one in the playroom and one in the bedroom. We included big books this time for sharing together and story sacks with props.
  • Jigsaws -We changed the jigsaws completely and included two wooden ones, a clock face with numbers, and a fractions one.
  • Duplo – a great tool for building, counting, sorting, colours as well as small world and imaginative play.

We kept from the last rotation;

  • Every day  heroes wooden police and fire station because both boys played with it and Austin especially was really using his language and role-playing.
  • Thomas stay and play sets because both boys played with them independently and together and that level of interaction between them in priceless.

In addition we included;

  • Colouring paper roll – we covered the tops of the storage unit to encourage mark-making in random areas. (£4 Ikea)
  • Pre-writing boards – help learn the patterns and strokes needed for letter formation. Encouraging fine motor skills, hand eye coordination and sensory perception needed to support those early writing skills. (Amazon purchase)
  • Threading string and beads – encouraging fine motor skills, coordination, concentration and strengthening the right muscles in the hand to support the pincer grip to prepare the hand for writing.(Ikea)
  • Number bugs – supporting 1:1 correspondence in counting and number recognition. (Gifts for little hands online)
  • Buzzy Bees – using the tweezer to manipulate the small bees into the correct hives exercises to correct muscles in the hand to support writing development. It also requires use of fine motor skills and coordination. (Gifts for little hands online)
  • Melissa and Doug see and spell – letter recognition and problem solving. (Amazon purchase)
  • Natural wood construction kit – just because! (Amazon Purchase)
  • Sticker activity tray / magazines – to encourage participation in adult-led activity, interest in print and practice at following adult direction.
  • Dress up – Austin has shown an interest in this lately at nursery and so we thought we would encourage this at home, whilst practising controlling our excitement at running around dressing as a superhero.
  • Writing table – Took away the tools and nuts and bolts and construction pieces and turn the Melissa and Doug workbench (amazon purchase) into a writing table, adding wooden letters for drawing around, crayons in different shapes, pencils, felt tips and chalks. Including cars, trains and helicopters with writing tools sticky tapes to them to encourage mark-making. Added the Ikea paper roll holder with plain paper and colouring paper. Included colouring sheets of their favourite characters from Paw Patrol, Ben and Holly and Peppa Pig underneath as well as scissors to encourage the use of tools safely whilst there are two adults around. The aim of this was to provide a station where A&R could access writing tools and mark make in a fun way, rather than being asked to come sit at a desk and write with pen and paper, it is all about their choice to engage, when it suits them and doing their own thing in a calm and quiet corner of the playroom.
  • Water play – we had a fish bowl (poundland) and 3 small bowls, water, 3 different food colourants (morrisons) and pipettes (ebay). Encouraging the use of pipettes to change and mix the colour of the water, not only allows them to experiment with mixing of colour, but the use of the pipette encourages use of fine motor skills and hand muscles in line with those needed for writing.
  • Glass bottomed sand trays – these have been an absolute hit with both Austin and Rory, using a variety of tools, including a wooden pencil, they are able to draw in the sand, experimenting with mark-making with some sensory feedback too.
  • Ben & Holly picture – this was a win for Rory. This picture is one of his all time favourites, it was the centre pages of a Ben and Holly magazine, a bit of a ‘where’s Wally’ type collage but with his favourite Ben & Holly characters. We framed it and stuck it on the wall to encourage him to point and respond to his favourite characters and this did play a big part in him learning to point. When teamed with felt tips, Rory can draw on the picture and wipe it off, enjoying colouring in or drawing round his favourite images.

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