There is nothing children like more than catching adults as they mess up. A close second is when they get to tell their elders, “You made a mistake!” It bolsters their self-confidence and reinforces their knowledge.
That’s why, during the Size Matters Handwriting Program, we goof up all the time. And we do it on purpose. Especially while they’re watching.
The key to making this charade a meaningful one is to insure that the kids know what constitutes right and what qualifies as wrong. In other words–The Rules. To be more specific, the Rules on Letter Size.
Imagine the drama.
Before you start, ask the class to wish you ‘Good Luck!’ Using a lined writing surface (e.g. Smart Boards projecting adapted paper, Magnetic Rectasquare Boards, etc.) and with chalk or marker in hand, take a deep breath. Then attempt to print a Star-Worthy letter.
If the letter is comprised of Standing Tall Lines, be sure to make them slanted. If the letter is comprised of Slant Lines, deliberately make them horizontal. If the letter has intersecting lines, clearly overlap them. Most importantly, be sure to make the letters too tall, too long or too short. Step back and ask the class, “How did I do?”
Without exception, the children will likely yell out some version of ‘Terrible!’ Looking dejected, ask them why. At this point, the kids begin owning the lessons you’ve be drilling into them. Prepare yourself for critiques about your use of Letter Lines and your misuse of Letter Sizes. Innocently ask them, ‘So what size is this letter???’
In united chorus, the right answer should come back to you.
“And what’s the Rule for Size 1, (2 or 3) letters?”
Again, you should hear that familiar refrain, repeated so many times throughout the day. The song and the dance that accompanies every Letter Size Rule.
“OH!!!” You reply. “Can I try again?”
Your gracious students will surely relent. And just as conclusively, you will make another attempt, but this time with a whole new set of errors. Repeat the dialogue and the Rules to the Letter. In fact, repeat the whole scene 3, 5, 8 or more times until every conceivable error you have ever witnessed has been demonstrated. Leave the incorrect samples on the board for comparison. And after every attempt, return to the chorus… “So tell me again, what size is this letter and what is the Rule?”
Guaranteed, your children will be excited to try their hand at making Star-Worthy letters. Grade their attempts, whether on the board or on their papers. Did they use the right Letter Lines? Did they make them the right Size? Does their letter earn a Star?
But what exactly are the Rules?