The Write Stuff for learning to write!

As we celebrate National Handwriting Day I am pleased to highlight for you the line of Homeschool Holiday products designed to help learners develop their “John Handcock”, that is their signature! National Handwriting Day was started in 1977 by the Writing Instrument Manufacturers Association. They wanted people to use more pens, pencils, and writing paper.

January 23rd was chosen because it is John Hancock’s Birthday.  Mr. Hancock was the first person to sign the Declaration of Independence, and his signature is the largest of all 56 signatures. Putting your John Handcock on something has become slang for your signature. Before you can sign something, you have to develop a sense of the basics of handwriting.

How Handwriting Develops

Handwriting involves more than just making letters on a page. Learners must first develop strong fine motor (small movements of the fingers, hands, wrists)   as well as visual motor skills (using both vision and hands to complete tasks). Because every child develops and learns differently, just when, where, and how they develop these pre- handwriting skills is going to vary as much as when they smiled, walked, were potty trained, etc. Experts certainly have suggested timelines, but as parents and classroom educators working one on one with learners you know the finite details that matter as far as readiness for such things. 

Tracing and Handwriting

Tracing has long been an effective way to help young learners learn handwriting. Using crayons, pencils or even markers to trace shapes and dotted paths from left to right, right to left, up, down diagonal (you get the idea) can help learners develop fine motor control. Tracing is also great for focus and concentration. 

Tracing however is not for everyone, it can also be a source of frustration. That is why it is so important to check for readiness. There isn’t a “magic” ready light or ding like the microwave. I recommend sitting with the learners you feel are age appropriate for holding crayons and tracing and give it a go. If the crayon gets gripped in a fist and the page gets scribbled on joyfully, you can model appropriately holding the crayon and tracing. 

When the crayon is held properly (there are many videos on grasp, etc. you can view – and this too can be a source of individual child development), and your learner gets JOY out of tracing the lines, does not mind when they go “off” the line, these are signs of readiness.

On the other hand, you may wish to consider different activities for fine motor strengthening if your learner has poor or no grip, gets frustrated, cries or fusses about imperfections or going off the lines. Remember, there is no deep learning going on when a learner does not enjoy the activity. And tracing does NOT hold the exclusive rights to Letter Learning! Everyone learns differently.

Everyone learns differently – whether you have a tracer or a non conformist, fear not. Writing will come.  Celebrate all successes.

Teaching Pencil Grip

I often get questions from teachers in the primary grades, or young mothers teaching their learners at home about pencil grip. My 100% honest heartfelt answer is it must be taught correctly from the get go in a one on one situation, like using a kitchen knife. I wouldn’t let my kids just use a sharp knife without showing them exactly how to do it because they might get cut – it’s dangerous. Well a crayon isn’t dangerous, but the wrong grip will never become right.  It’s THAT important. If you leave the learner unsupervised, or walk away to check the other learners in a classroom (which unfortunately is the way of things) they just auto correct to what they want to do. You know your child best. Why are they holding the crayon/pencil the way they are? Age, hand strength? Differently abled? Lack of proper instruction? Only one on one instruction can achieve proper pencil grip a little each day.

As a classroom teacher, pencil grip was a non issue for me. I taught middle and upper grades. Correcting pencil grasp was not something that was going to happen by the time a learner entered my classroom. I was not going to change their penmanship for that matter. My motivator was, and remained helping learners recognize their BEST WORK. I did have learners self correct pencil grip, improve handwriting, learn multiplication facts, learn to read and any number of AMAZING accomplishments. These accomplishments were THEIRS, encouraged by my mentoring of their best work. If it was their best work it was accepted, if it was not, they chose to re-do it. I did not however suffer through papers I could not read. It was pretty hard to convince me THAT was your best work.  You can read more on best work HERE.

Older learners can use pencils, colored pencils, markers, etc. as their hands develop and their grip strengthens. There are grips, trainers and even shaped pencils if you choose to use them. 

Other ways to develop writing skills

Tracing isn’t the only way to develop a “good” writer. Free drawing is also a great skill. Plenty of blank paper and imagination go a long way. Point out when your learner uses curves, zig zags, straight and diagonal lines so they get used to seeing them and hearing the terms. Let them write and draw about topics they are interested in, even if it is over and over.

Other learners prefer to “free write” where there are no lines and they copy from a nearby model. They can do this on paper, in the air, into a pan of rice, on a chalkboard, into fun dough, etc… they sky really is the limit!

Sensory writing is also very effective. Painting with water on the sidewalk, using beans, shells or other dimensional objects like twigs to form letters is unique and fun. You can even shape the letters out of dough. Members of the Curriculum Club can download FREE Alphabet Play Mats, or you can just allow learners to free form the letters on their own.

If you would like the Alphabet Mats, and are not already a member of the Happy Hive Homeschooling Curriculum Club, signing up is easy, FREE, and you’ll be downloading your Alphabet Mats in under 5 minutes !

I just need your name and email address.

Click on the picture below to sign up and get your FREE Alphabet Mats as well as the Sign Up Bonus!

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Believe it our not – playing outside, climbing, and bike riding all help a young writer develop as well. Writers need both fine motor and visual motor skills. These non-worksheet, off the page activities are great for improving a variety of skills, including visual motor skills. Take the pressure off and provide learners of all ages plenty of practice with tasks that involve using their eyes and hands together ; and play is the perfect activity to do just that!

Homeschool Holiday Products

If your learners enjoy tracing and copying, Homeschool Holiday has pre-writing activities for you!

Our Left to Right Lines to Trace Mega Pack has over 30 different worksheets for beginning to advanced tracing. This pre writing skill involves following the path then coloring a picture. There are “review” pages with a variety of paths on one page for learners to trace.

Tracing Lines Pre – Writing Fine Motor Activities is available in my Teachers Pay Teachers Store.

We also have unique Alphabet Tracing activities. Each letter of the Alphabet is on it’s own page (capital and lower) arranged in boxed rows. Assign by the row or by the page to keep the activity from becoming tiring or boring. These are available in MANUSCRIPT or CURSIVE styles.

Visit The Homeschool Holiday Shop to purchase these affordable Worksheets.
Practice page by page or the whole alphabet. The numbers are included as a whole page too!

A favorite for learners who are already writing is COPYWORK. I consider copywork an essential component to any homeschool curriculum. You can read why HERE.

When learners use copywork, they use great pieces of writing, read it aloud, then copy it EXACTLY as it is written in their best writing. We have several copywork Activities (Even FREE sets) to choose from, and each come with Trace, Print and Cursive all in one pack so whatever your learner needs it’s in the pack! If you are looking for a good copywork starter set, I recommend the Famous Quotes Set. IT has a little something of interest for everyone.

7 Different quotes and a QR code activity to find out more about the famous people who spoke them! Click the picture to purchase in my Teachers Pay Teachers Store.

We hope you enjoy celebrating with us today and will consider subscribing to our website along the left menu so you won’t miss a post!

Be sure to check out the other AWESOME Holidays by using our CALENDAR OF HOLIDAYS page! There is even a downloadable calendar for you with all available Homeschool Holiday Curriculum!

Happy Hive Homeschooling

Providing experiences for homeschoolers, classroom teachers and families. . . because there is always something to celebrate!

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Squirrel Activities are always in Season!

Fall is a popular time to study squirrels, however January is home of National Squirrel Appreciation Day and that peeks our interest for sure. So whether you have some awesome squirrel activities planned for science, nature studies or just to foster appreciation and understanding of these adorable rodents. We have some surefire ways to add to your fun.

Squirrel Appreciation Day was started to highlight the better qualities of these animals, and perhaps reclassify them in the minds of folks who think of them as pests. Often when we don’t understand something it’s easy to just think of it as, shall we say, a pest.

Spy on Squirrels

There are over 200 species of squirrel, so I would imagine there are some near you. Putting out food or water provide a great opportunity to observe their natural behaviors. You can do this in a local park or even in your own backyard.

What Squirrel behaviors do you see? Use this opportunity to complete a nature study. It can be a simple as a piece of paper or an elaborate as a squirrel notebook.

In our homeschool we like to take a week, put out walnuts (they are our squirrel’s favorite) ad sit quietly to watch. We draw the squirrels, taking time to note color and size, gender if we can. It’s fun to give them names like Chatterer and Nutsy, or just Sam, Sandy and Susan. In our notebook, we record the things we see each day, sitting in the same place at the same time. Here are some things you can look for:

Running and Chasing: It looks a lot like play, but what you see might actually be squirrel dating. In late winter squirrels chose mates. The males will chase females and males will chase away other males. If you watch you may get to see them run, leap and run some more quick as can be!

Talking:  The noise squirrels make is really surprising. I love to hear them “scream” at the backyard cats! They are warning each other, and the cats to keep away from their food! Squirrels squeak, make clicking noises and “chatter” to talk to each other. They also flick their tails as a form of communication. Sit quiet and listen to what your furry friends have to say!

Climb, Jump, Flip and “Fly”: You don’t need to go to the circus to see top performing acrobats. Just watch the squirrels race through the treetops! Squirrels use their tails for balance and have feet that grip tightly to branches. They love to climb and jump from branch to branch, often making it look like they are flying!

Nesting: Look carefully and see if you can find a squirrels drey. That’s a nest they build in a tree hole or branch using leaves and twigs. It will likely be up high so other animals don’t disturb it.

Squirrel Activities

We also have some engaging squirrel lessons you can use! There are plenty of activities to spread over a week, or you can use this in it’s entirety for Squirrel Appreciation day!

Click on the picture to purchase SQUIRREL ACTIVITY PACKET from my Amped Up Learning Store.

Activities include a coloring page, gratitude activity, squirrel reading room with links to 10 different squirrel books, internet search relating to squirrel facts and a comprehension worksheet for my all time favorite squirrel video – Why do Squirrels Dig? from Sci Show Kids.

Not sure if these activities are for you? Curriculum Club members can TRY BEFORE YOU BUY with our special download available in the Members only area.

If you are not already a member of the Happy Hive Homeschooling Curriculum Club, signing up is easy, FREE, and you’ll be downloading freebies in under 5 minutes ! I just need your name and email address.

As a member of the club you will receive 1 – 2 newsletters each month with educational tips and the latest Curriculum Club Freebie. You have access to all PAST freebies from 2020 as well. Fell free to check out our NEWSLETTER ARCHIVES.

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Once your registration is complete you can download your SQUIRREL SAMPLE PACK (as well as lots of other great freebies!)

We hope you enjoy celebrating with us today and will consider subscribing to our website along the left menu so you won’t miss a post!

Be sure to check out the other AWESOME Holidays by using our CALENDAR OF HOLIDAYS page! There is even a downloadable calendar for you with all available Homeschool Holiday Curriculum!

Happy Hive Homeschooling

Providing experiences for homeschoolers, classroom teachers and families. . . because there is always something to celebrate!

Homeschool Holiday signature image shows an image of Mrs. Crabtree and the Text: Christy "Mrs. Crabtree" Homeschool Holiday, Because there is always something to celebrate

Be sure to visit your favorite shopping platform for holiday based experiences.

Image contains the Amped Up Learning Marketplace logo. Click the image to visit the Homeschool Holiday store within the Amped up Learning marketplace.
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Inspiring a sense of innovation with Kid Inventors Day

After 19 years in a classroom and almost 50 on the planet, I’m positive kids are masterminds! Their natural sense of wonder has them exploring, inventing, and finding ways to move mountains from birth. Kid Inventors Day, January 17th, is a day to remind kids of their natural spark and show them other kid inventors who have done some AMAZING things!

Happy Birthday Benjamin Franklin

We celebrate Kid Inventors Day January 17th, on the birthday of Benjamin Franklin, perhaps one of the most inspirational KID inventors of all time. When Franklin was just 11 or 12 years old (sources vary), he invented swim fins! Franklin goes on to invent many more useful items including the lightning rod, street lamps, and bifocals. He is an excellent model of the spirit of innovation for children everywhere who dream of solving a problem with their invention.

Kid Inventors Inspire!

There are many other inventors who had their ideas before adulthood. Companies like Google encourage innovation in schools by sponsoring science fairs, maker fairs and awards for students who present new and useful ideas. Perhaps there is a young inventor in your home or classroom.

Explore Kid Inventors

Spark curiosity in the children around you with Homeschool Holiday’s Kid Inventors. This learning activity presents 6 different “kid inventors” to learners. Their stories are presented as a means of inspiring innovation and creative thinking toward an invention of their own.

Perhaps your learner is inspired by Ben Franklin himself and that famous story about the kite and some lightning. June 15th is National Electricity Day. It’s a wonderful opportunity to explore the facts surrounding Franklin’s experiment and dispel the myths!

We also offer an exclusive members only area that has plenty of Free downloads, and gets new freebies added monthly. If you are not already a member of the Happy Hive Homeschooling Curriculum Club, signing up is easy, FREE, and you’ll be downloading awesome resources in under 5 minutes ! I just need your name and email address.

As a member of the club you will receive 1 – 2 newsletters each month with educational tips and the latest Curriculum Club Freebie. You have access to all PAST freebies as well. Fell free to check out our NEWSLETTER ARCHIVES to get a fell for the informative emails you’ll get!

Click Image to Sign up for the Curriculum Club – FREE!

We hope you enjoy celebrating with us today and will consider subscribing to our website along the left menu so you won’t miss a post!

Be sure to check out the other AWESOME Holidays by using our CALENDAR OF HOLIDAYS page! There is even a downloadable calendar for you with all available Homeschool Holiday Curriculum!

Happy Hive Homeschooling

Providing experiences for homeschoolers, classroom teachers and families. . . because there is always something to celebrate!

Homeschool Holiday signature image shows an image of Mrs. Crabtree and the Text: Christy "Mrs. Crabtree" Homeschool Holiday, Because there is always something to celebrate

Be sure to visit your favorite shopping platform for holiday based experiences.

Image contains the Amped Up Learning Marketplace logo. Click the image to visit the Homeschool Holiday store within the Amped up Learning marketplace.
Click on image to visit my Amped Up Learning Store
Image contains the Teachers Pay Teachers logo. Click the image to visit the Homeschool Holiday store within the Teachers Pay Teachers marketplace.
Click on image to visit my Teachers Pay Teachers Store

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Playing Dress Up – with your pets!

This holiday is perfect for any budding photographer! Who doesn’t like to see their kids all dressed up in matching outfits – even the furry kids? January 14th, National Dress Your Pet Day is a fun holiday you can celebrate by giving a little extra attention to those special members of your family: Your pets!

How to Celebrate Dress Your Pet Day

Taking care of animals can be a big responsibility. Dress Your Pet Day should be celebrated with that same responsibility. Please treat all animals with care and only dress them up with adult supervision and if your pet is a willing participant. It’s also not a good idea to reach into the fishbowl.

However, if getting dressed in cute outfits is something your cat, dog ( or snake!) enjoys – that’s a great way to celebrate. You can even honor your furry friend on Dress Your Pet Day with a special trip to the groomers!

The evolution of dressing our pets

It is believed the Ancient Egyptians were the first to place collars on dogs as a decorative item back in 3100 BC. The pet clothing industry has evolved quite a bit since then, making about a 40 million dollars annually. Pets even have their own iconic event: the New York Pet Fashion Show. This special event has been highlighting pets as rescue animals, their owners and pet high fashion since 2003!

What if we don’t have pets? Or we have exotic, non “Dressable” pets?

If you’d like to celebrate Dress Your Pet Day without causing the family pet to run and hide, or perhaps you don’t have a pet, Homeschool Holiday has the perfect ready to go activity! Pet Paper Dolls!

This adorable collection of pet dressing fun contains 10 different pets for you to dress in a variety of outfits. The best part is learners get to design and color the fashion items themselves. The set contains a DOG, CAT, TURTLE, HAMSTER, FISH, BUNNY, SNAKE, GUINNEA PIG, MOUSE, and BIRD. The Dog and Cat are also included as full color versions!

By using a repositionable adhesive (available at your local craft store or online) the “pets” can be dressed over and over. Then when learners decide they like their look, use some glue, add a craft stick and your family can put on a pet fashion show like no other!

As a BONUS your purchase comes with 15 different animal coloring pages your artist can color any way they would like, including adding hats and shoes to a whale!

This is a fun holiday you can celebrate on January 14th – or anytime really!

Need more ideas – Check out THIS POST about using stuffed animals!

Looking for more Holiday Fun?

If you are looking for more great activities to engage your learners, I encourage to try our Curriculum Club! There you will find plenty of FREE printables to help you be intentional with the time you spend with your children! Everything is ready to go.

If you are not already a member of the Happy Hive Homeschooling Curriculum Club, signing up is easy, FREE, and you’ll be downloading freebies in under 5 minutes ! I just need your name and email address.

As a member of the club you will receive 1 – 2 newsletters each month with educational tips and the latest Curriculum Club Freebie. You have access to all PAST freebies from 2020 as well. Fell free to check out our NEWSLETTER ARCHIVES.

Click Image to Sign up for the Curriculum Club – FREE!

Members have the opportunity to download a SAMPLER PACK of PET PAPER DOLLS so they can “try before they buy” this adorable curriculum!

We hope you enjoy celebrating with us today and will consider subscribing to our website along the left menu so you won’t miss a post!

Be sure to check out the other AWESOME Holidays by using our CALENDAR OF HOLIDAYS page! There is even a downloadable calendar for you with all available Homeschool Holiday Curriculum!

Happy Hive Homeschooling

Providing experiences for homeschoolers, classroom teachers and families. . . because there is always something to celebrate!

Homeschool Holiday signature image shows an image of Mrs. Crabtree and the Text: Christy "Mrs. Crabtree" Homeschool Holiday, Because there is always something to celebrate

Be sure to visit your favorite shopping platform for holiday based experiences.

Image contains the Amped Up Learning Marketplace logo. Click the image to visit the Homeschool Holiday store within the Amped up Learning marketplace.
Click on image to visit my Amped Up Learning Store
Image contains the Teachers Pay Teachers logo. Click the image to visit the Homeschool Holiday store within the Teachers Pay Teachers marketplace.
Click on image to visit my Teachers Pay Teachers Store

Let’s Connect