Play to Write-Write to Read: Week 5

Welcome to Week 5!

If you are joining us for the first time, I encourage you to first read Play to Write-Write to Read: Week 1. Then, be sure to come back and join us for this week’s play group activities!

Welcome back! Did your little ones enjoy their Poke Writing? How about those story boards? Well, I have some exciting news that occurred in our home this week through a spread of runny noses… a perfect easy writing grasp! Funny huh!? Try it though, it works like a charm! (Plus you will always have a tissue ready for a runny nose!) :) 

Just a reminder those of you who are joining our Play Group each week, you are asked to please do 2 things:

1. Comment on how these activities worked or didn’t work with your child. Feel free to reply to one another to encourage and offer your advice as well! This will also be great to hold us all accountable to one another to actually follow through… don’t we all need a little of that!? :)

2. Share: Bloggers-you can link up a writing activity you’ve done with your child in the past to share with everyone. You are totally welcome to reteach the same strategies on your blogs and then link up those posts the following week (please do be sure to link back). Non-Bloggers & Bloggers we encourage you to teach/share these activities with another mom friend. Wouldn’t it be fabulous if more and more parents began to learn Best Practices for writing to ‘play’ with their kids; these types of activities are not just for teachers! Let’s empower each other by sharing!

The FUNdamentals

 (The FUNdamentals section focuses on guiding your toddler/preschooler through the basics of developing the fine motor and gross motor skills needed for the physical act of writing, but doing so with ‘fun’ activity.) 

Activity: Vertical Writing

What is Vertical Writing? … All you have to do is simply put as many of your child’s activities on a vertical surface as you can. Vertical surfaces can make an average activity into a great activity for developing hand skills… (continue reading more)

Objectives & Benefits: 

1. Motivates your child to sit or stand more upright

2. Encourages head control because the child will have to look up to see the activity

3. Child’s working surface is always the right height

4. Strengthens shoulder and arm muscles

5. Child’s hand is in the best position to develop wrist strength and stability

6. Requires a child to use an extended wrist; the position used during handwriting

7. Positions hand and fingers to handle small or medium objects (pencils or paint brushes).

8. Allows the hand to have a balanced use of the intrinsic muscles (used for fine-motor skills).

9. Help with eye-hand coordination

10. Help children from becoming distracted by other things in the room (exception is windows and mirrors)

11. Allow the child to see what they are doing as a child’s hand is underneath the object they are holding

12. On vertical surfaces up is up and down is down, helping a child with the relationships of lines on paper

13. Opportunity to work on your child’s coordinated use of both hands (bilateral coordination)

(Looking at this long list of benefits helps you to clearly see why and how Vertical Writing activities are extremely beneficial in helping toddlers and preschoolers develop the the fine motor and gross motor skills for proper writing development.) 

This Week’s Vertical Writing Activity Choices: 

1. Painting in a Bag 

2. Painting/Drawing at the Window 

3. Bath Tub & Shaving Cream Writing

Writing Practice

(The Writing Practice section focuses on a new ‘Best Practice’ Writing Strategy each week. A ‘Best Practice’ writing strategy is a technique or methodology that, through experience and research, has proven to reliably lead to creating strong writers.) 

Activity: Post Office Pretend Play/Letter Writing


1. Understand the concept of transferring thoughts/ideas to print.

2. Connecting ideas, thoughts, images, and words to create a story.

3. Improve visual perception skills (specifically left to right eye movement) as the writing is written in front of them from the left side of the paper to the right side.

4. Play ‘Mailman’ to deliver mail to the ‘Family Mailbox’

5. Write letters

6. Have Fun!


  • box
  • paper
  • glue
  • markers, crayons
  • envelopes, stickers, contact paper (optional materials)
1. Introduce the concept of letter writing by reading the book  The Jolly Postman by Janet & Allan Alhberg. This is a fantastic book that includes envelopes of each page for children to open and discover letters, postcards, pamplets, invitations, posters, etc. It is a great way to discuss what the mailman’s job is and the types of things he delivers!
2. Create a mailbox with your child. Use a cardboard box (cereal box, shoe box, etc), cover it with paper or contact paper. Decorate your ‘mailbox’ and decide on where you want to keep it.
3. Help your child to ‘write’ a letter to someone in your family. As your child verbally shares what they want written, you write it out for them. Reread their letter back to them when they finish and let them draw, color, or decorate the letter. Place the letter in an envelope, address it, add a ‘stamp’, and place it in your mailbox.
*Note: Big Brother had so much fun writing a letter to his Dad. Daddy is currently coaching volleyball and will occasionally get home after he goes to bed when they have away games, so this was a great way for him to tell his dad about his day and say good night. He was so excited for his Dad to find it! When he woke up the next morning and Daddy had already left for school, he opened the mailbox to find a letter for HIM and Little Brother from Daddy! This has been such a fun way to use writing and make it special! 
4. Grandparent Letters: September 9th is Grandparents Day and just around the corner. Have your little one write a letter to their grandparents thanking them for all they do, or sharing what they love about them. Have your child help you address the letter and put it in a mailbox!

Click Here to Grab the Code! 


  1. As always, love this series! The tissue grip was cracking me up, but it is sooooo true! We’ve had some runny noses this week (at home and school), too. I’m going to have to try that out with the students who need help with grip. Useful and meaningful! LOOOOVE your explanation of the benefits of vertical writing!! I’m going to have to try the painting in a bag activity soon, and I’ve had success with the other activities you suggested. :)

  2. I love the mail box! I can’t wait to make some little mail boxes so my kids can write to each other. Thank you for the idea!

  3. Mackenzie, Thank you so much for taking the time to share all of these ideas!!! I’m excited to try the “tissue pencil grip” with my little guy since you know that’s been a struggle lately. I am also looking forward to letting them paint!! I just LOVE all your ideas! Thanks again!! :)

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