Monday, March 26th, 2007
Part 1: How to Make a Reusable Tracing Book for a Toddler
A tracing book lets 2- and 3-year-olds practice and hone their skill in using writing instruments. Kids start out tracing straight lines and curvy lines, then graduate to shapes such as circles and squares, and eventually letters and simple objects (apples, puppies, etc.). I didn’t start tracing letters until kindergarten, but today some kids begin in preschool. This tip comes from a friend who is a preschool instructor.
You can buy wipe-off tracing books, but they are the same every time they are used and cannot be customized with fun things such as the names of family members. Here are instructions on how to create your own reusable tracing pages.
Download free tracing pages from web sites, print and insert them into clear plastic sleeves, and store the sleeves in a binder. Draw on the sheets with dry erase markers as standalone pages, or while attached to the binder. Then, just wipe clean with a rag.
Step 1: Buy clear plastic "sheet protectors" from an office supply store. A sheet protector is commonly used in resume portfolios and for archiving documents.
Avoid "non-glare" sleeves that dull printed images, and vinyl sleeves that may "lift print" (ink/toner) from pages. Avoid sleeves that allow the front side of the sleeve to be pulled down and open more than 1 inch for "easy access." It’s just asking for a toddler to pull and rip the sleeve.
I bought a box of 200 Avery Heavyweight Diamond Clear Sheet Protectors at Costco for $8 (costlier bought online). I’m pretty much set for life.
Step 2: Buy dry erase pens. Toddlers smash pen tips when they first learn to draw, so initially use thick instead of fine tips. Avoid washable markers, Sharpies and washable crayons. Some don’t mark well, others don’t clean well. Update: Read part 2 of this article for information on wipe-off and dry erase crayons.
Again, your friend is Costco or another bulk retailer to get a good quantity with varying colors. I prefer Costco because their employees are paid living wages and health benefits unlike a certain other pervasive retailer.
Step 3: Buy a thin binder with built-in clear plastic sleeves on the front and back cover. Insert whatever 8"x11" page you wish to identify the binder, perhaps a sheet your child has permanently colored with crayon.
Step 4: Download tracing pages, print and insert them into the binder. A selection of web sites is at the end of this article.
Step 5: Create customized alphabet tracing pages. Download and install the Print Clearly or Penmanship free TrueType fonts that are designed for handwriting legibility. Create a word processor document and, using these fonts, type the alphabet in caps or lower case. For more fun, type the names of family and friends for your child to trace.
Tracing Page Sites
- Alphabet worksheets (at bottom of page). The A-Z For Beginners sheets have a separate page for each letter and include additional fun tracing activities. This page also has a lengthy opinion about when children should begin tracing (e.g., when it’s fun for them).
- Line and shape worksheets from KidZone.
- Line worksheets from Sen Teacher.
- Mazes (simple ones linked at the bottom of page) from PrintActivities.com.
- Handwriting worksheet maker. Select font and style, then type in the words you want to appear on your tracing page. Print the resulting web page.
- Objects to trace and color from ABC Teach.
- Miscellaneous worksheets from First-School.ws.
- Review of two cool 80 page tracing books by Thingamababy.