Penpals at Home Review

With Lewis starting school this is the perfect time for us to spend more time practicing his handwriting. I really hoped the Penpals at Home range from Cambridge University Press would appeal to him, and encourage him to enjoy the learning experience.

We received Getting Ready for Handwriting and Forming Letters, which are both set out in a similar format, with the aim of helping children develop the motor skills required for clear and consistent handwriting at school.

Getting Ready for Handwriting concentrates mostly on shapes that can be found in the world around us, which would eventually be adapted into letter formation. This is quite a fun way to encourage drawing shapes. Lewis found drawing a Hippo’s teeth more engaging than simple letter repetition would have been, so I felt this was a good method of introducing writing.

Forming letters, is probably a little more advanced, where letter repetition is the main focus. However the books also use dots to show where to start, and arrows that you follow to form the letters. There is so much variation in adults handwriting, I thought was a good idea, especially if a child would be practicing with different people guiding them.

Handwriting Books

Both books are colourfully illustrated, and a far cry from the white lined pages I remember learning on! The books are finished in gloss so the marks can be wiped off and the books reused. I do see the benefit in this, obviously any item a child can re-use again and again is preferable.

The books don’t come with a pen so we used a felt tip. Personally, because of the glossy nature of the books, I felt that this did result in more smudges and perhaps less control over the markings made, as the pages offer little resistance. For this reason I feel that the books may not be suitable for refining the techniques learned.

A really fun feature with this range is that the books are compatible with a free app. Once downloaded you can simply scan the phone icon found in the books, and a demonstration will appear on the screen. Lewis does have a slight fascination with technology so he really liked this. It also made it easier for me, as I could show him on my phone how to form the letters, rather than having to try to explain it. The app also uses quite a lot of animal associations which I felt really added interest to the process.

Handwriting App

I can see Lewis getting a lot of use out of these books, and I hope they help him to refine his fine motor skills and prepare him for the tasks he will be set in school.

Disclosure: We received 2 books to review from Cambridge University Press. 

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