5 Ways to Practice Handwriting Without Picking Up a Pencil

Categories: Resources

Handwriting is an important skill that many of our young students work on in elementary school. However, it is important to remember that handwriting practice does not always have to be pencil and paper activities.  There are so many other ways to work on handwriting that benefit our learners.  Today, I will share 5 of my favorite ways to practice handwriting skills without ever having to pick up a pencil!

Build Letters 

Handwriting without Tears is my favorite program for teaching handwriting skills.  As part of their program, they have wooden lines and curves that can be used to build letters. You can also use straws, pipe cleaners, Wikki Sticks, or make your own sticks out of thick laminated construction paper. 

Make Letters Out of Playdoh

My students love playdoh!  Not only is it great for hand strength, it is perfect for building letters.  Encourage students to roll play doh into ‘snakes’ and use those to make letters.

Write in Messy Materials

This is so much fun!  Have students make letters or words in shaving cream, sand or salt.  Use cookie trays to help contain the materials.  Have a student who doesn’t like the tactile sensation?  Have them use a spoon or other utensil to explore.  

Back Writing

I’m not sure if there is an official name for this activity, but it is a fun and tricky game that you can have students play in pairs.  One student is the ‘drawer’ and the other is the ‘guesser’.  The guesser sits and faces away from the drawer.  The drawer makes a letter on the guesser’s back.  The guesser tries to figure out what letter was made without looking!  

Letter Walk

This is a fun gross motor activity to practice letter formation.  Use colored tape to make a letter on the floor.  Have students walk on the tape to experience forming the letter with their whole body!


Remember, while pencil and paper activities certainly have their place, opportunities to engage in multisensory writing activities are essential for our learners.  What are some of the pencil-free ways you practice handwriting with your students?  


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