I've just been reminded of this game I used to play many years ago, with the children at my wife's playgroup. I used to unwind after a night shift practicing pencil control with them for an hour or so.
Basically, it’s a ‘magic writing game’ – which requires three crayons. The thick pencil types are the best (Stendler?). You write or draw something with a yellow crayon and put a green dot where you want the child to start. The child draws over the yellow lines with a blue crayon - and, hey, presto, the yellow turns to green! Magic!
For the playgroup children – I would have a table with about 5-6 kids at a time – I’d prepare pages with lines drawn in yellow, with the obligatory green dots. Straight lines, zigzag lines, bouncy lines, jump up lines, etc. Then at the bottom of the page I’d just have a couple of green dots and the kids could draw their own lines.
[Pic to come]
[Pic to come]
The children took great care over following the lines – and it was easy to see at a glance round the table how successful they’d been. Lots of green meant they’d been pretty good - blue and yellow lines, not so.
The next step was to do the same thing with their names – it was a goal of the playgroup that the children should all be able to write their own name before they left.
I’d prepare a sheet each with a line of each letter of their name. So, for Oscar:
A line of capital ‘O’s across the top of the page – with the green dot at around 11o’clock on the O. Then a line each of ‘s’, ‘c’, ‘a’, ‘r’, remembering that, with small characters, every letter is begun at the top, except for ‘d’ and ‘e’, which start in the middle.
Then a couple of lines of their full name, with a space at the bottom to do their own names free hand.
Once they could write their own names, I’d prepare sheets with letters that all began the same way – I called these ‘families of letters’, so, r, n, m, p, b, h are one family, c, o, a, d, g, q, are another.
I also made up little booklets with a story that each child could relate to. Nothing fancy, “Sometimes I go to playgroup where I play ‘bump the finger’* with Paul”. I wrote the words on one page, which they would magically turn into green – and they would write the same words on the opposite page. To prepare them for this, depending where each child was, I’d have separate sheets for each of these words.
(*Bump the finger is the first pencil control game I’d play with the kids. We’d have a blank sheet of paper, the child would have a pencil, and, while I moved my finger around the page, the child would follow it and say ‘Bump’ every time they caught up with me. As I moved my finger around I would say, ‘Up the page, down the page, across the page, left, right, up to the right-hand corner, over to the left-had corner, etc. We always finished with large zig zags across the page. Inevitably, my finger would move faster and faster, and we would both collapse in fits of giggles! Even the older children would love to play this in between pages of the yellow game.)
Every now and then, we’d stop doing the pencil control sessions for a song about numbers. (Number bonds to ten.)
To the tune of ‘Knees up, Mother Brown,’ I’d sing:
One and nine are ten
Two and eight are ten
Three and seven and four and six and five and five are ten
The last word with gusto – and arms akimbo, of course!
I imagine the 'Yellow game' could be tailored for an older child. As long as it’s seen to be fun, and kept short and sweet.
[Need a couple of pics of the ‘Yellow games’ pages.]