The Pickup Counter

I love a new idea, no matter how small. This one is called “the pickup counter”. I tried it at the end of last year and will surely integrate it as a regular step in teaching handwriting this fall. The exercise is: students hold up a closed fist when we practice writing a letter on the board, in the air, or on my alphabet cards (pictured below). While reciting the handwriting instructions, students raise a finger each time we say, “pickup!”. This helps them stay engaged and think about when, and how many times, they should lift their pencil for each letter. Example: Uppercase A: We say, “Start at the top. Slant down, pick up, back to the top, slant down, pick up, cross in the middle.” For this letter students should lift their pencil twice during formation and if you’re using the pickup counter” during instruction, your students will have two fingers up when you’re done writing uppercase A.


The background: I’ve been watching new kindergarten students (or first grade students that enter our school from another) write for a long time, and every year I notice the same thing: that in the beginning, they start letters from a variety of places, go in various directions, lift their pencil when they shouldn’t, or keep their pencil on the paper when they should be lifting it. So I decided to clear things up. I teach students how to write letters using my own handwritten font and specific instructions that focus on where each letter starts and how many pickups it has (how many times you lift your pencil during formation). It’s that simple, and it works like a charm. Click here to watch a short video.


Get ’em while they’re FREE

I will post my thirteenth, and final, free homework kit on August 1st. This date will mark a full year since I began sharing my kits. Three of my kits (The Paint Bucket, The Diaper Bag, and The Laundry Basket) will still be available as a free download at my Teachers Pay Teachers store. The other kits will be $4.00 a piece (or $20.00 for all ten kits) as of August 6, 2013. If you have already signed up for my homework kits (or do so by August 6th) you will receive seven additional kits in the future, for a grand total of twenty! My kits make homework magical for children. I hope you will take the time to make one and experience the joy and excitement they will bring to your classroom! Click here to sign up now.

The Flower Pot

And now, it’s time for some…flower power! July’s homework kit invites you to arrange, measure, study, draw, and label flowers. Then count with bees, do math with peas, and read three books about flowers, please!


Special thanks to my son for spicing up my cement background this month with some lovely sidewalk chalk art.

Would you like instructions for making The Flower Pot, related worksheets, and an activities list so parents will know how to use it with their children? You can request them through the “contact” tab on my website and I will send you the PDF files via email. My kits make homework magical for children. I hope you will take the time to make one and experience the joy and excitement they will bring to your classroom (or your home)!