One of the reasons I am excited about using Montessorian techniques for writing with my kids is that the stress of using a pencil correctly is detached from the joy of words. Of course, it could work in reverse if using the pencil is a joy, and the words are stressful. The Montessori method calls for a set of shape stencils, colored pencils, and plain paper.
You can buy Montessori shape stencils, but I chose to make my own, largely because shipping was going to be hassle, but also because larger pieces are a easier to manipulate.
You may recognize the shapes from this Melissa and Doug puzzle. It's a must have in my opinion, and if you look around you can probably find it for $8. We have definitely gotten our money's worth out of this one!
To make the matching stencils, I simply traced the shape onto corrugated cardboard and punched it out with a tooth pick.
Using the shape stencils
The prescribed procedure is to direct the children to use the stencils to draw shapes, then to fill in the shapes with simple lines, drawn form one side to the other. For some reason, my son finds this much more interesting than coloring. He also likes to draw the shapes next to each other, so that they form a picture of some kind. My daughter is more interested in the process of drawing itself.
This project was conglomeration of several things. We used the shape stencils toward the desired goal of making a crown.
So far this has been a great low stress way to work on mastering the use of a pencil. Both of my children have really enjoyed using the shape stencils and the puzzle pieces to make their own creations, and I can tell that they perceive it as a step toward competency and freedom, not an enforced task.
Related posts: Montessori Writing Method: Magnetic Letters
Montessori Writing Method: Homemade Tracing Cards