Starting last year, I decided to convert the Dumpling’s handwriting into a font every year to document the evolution of her penmanship. Her dexterity has progressed tremendously in the past 12 months — while she was only able to trace when I first started this project, the Dumpling can now free-write block letters and numbers.
I used the Calligraphr website to convert the Dumpling’s handwriting into a font. The steps are straightforward — fill out a template and re-upload it back onto the site.
But…and this is a big but, it would have been difficult to expect my toddler to write within the boxes and lines, so I had her scribble the alphabet and numbers on a piece of scrap paper first.
Then I digitally “cut” the letters and numbers in Photoshop, scaling each to the proper size and erasing stray marks along the way, and “pasted” them onto the template. I uploaded the completed template back onto Calligraphr to generate my font.
Below is the Dumpling’s font from last year compared to this year.
I recently printed a free A-Z alphabet hunt pack from Frugal Fun for Boys and Girls to review letter recognition and sounds with the Dumpling. To spice up the activity so that she was not just circling the letters 26 times on repeat, we divvied the worksheet pack into four to five separate exercises and “circled” the letters a different way each time.
1. Apply Sticker Labels
I wrote the letters out on circle labels and asked the Dumpling to stick them on as each letter was identified.
2. Dab On Colored Glue
If you do not have colored glue, create your own by mixing food coloring or liquid watercolor (add more drops for higher color intensity) to white Elmer’s glue.
3. Stamp with Fingers, Bottle Caps, Etc.
4. Paint With Watercolor
This step is optional: I pre-circled the letters with a white crayon so the correct answers were “revealed” once they were painted over.
5. Squirt Watercolor With Liquid Dropper
Sometimes just switching up the tool does wonders to renew my kiddo’s interest. Using a liquid dropper saved from an old medicine bottle, the Dumpling squirted liquid watercolor on top of the letters.
6. Puncture With Push Pins
Placing a folded towel (or two) underneath a worksheet, the Dumpling punctured each letter that she found with a pin.
N.B. Needless to say, the pins are sharp and adult supervision is required.
It started when I noticed the Dumpling drawing lines between random dots on her magnetic doodle board two months ago, so I began making more dots for her to connect. She got really into it, so we moved onto shapes, numbers, and letters and are now even solving simple connect-the dot puzzles!
As much as I want her penmanship to improve, I know that I would miss her scribbles one day. Wouldn’t it be great if I could archive her chicken scratches forever…without keeping piles of paper?
Enter Calligrphr, a free app that I used to convert the Dumpling’s handwriting into a font. I downloaded their template, filled it up with the Dumpling’s traced numbers and letters, and then re-uploaded the template back onto the site.
If anyone is interested in downloading the font, click here! (Please note that only numbers and capital letters are available…no lowercase, punctuations, special characters, etc.)
This would make great “handwritten” holiday cards or letters to Santa!
I plan to turn the Dumpling’s handwriting into a new font annually and to track how her handwriting progresses!
I recently created a bunch of alphabet coloring sheets for the Dumpling, and we went on a coloring rampage with all sorts of materials—watercolor, chalk, craft paint, shaving cream, etc. I thought her application and choices in colors were spot on, so I cleaned up a few of her pieces in Photoshop (I helped her “color within the lines”) to create these beautiful alphabet prints!
I received several inquiries on how the prints were created, and I was bummed out to tell others that they needed Photoshop. To make the project accessible to those who don’t have the program, I made two “electronic stencils” so they could be layered over existing artwork to replicate the same effect in PowerPoint. Since I needed “abstract” pieces for this method, it turned out to be a great way to give a few of the Dumpling’s old paintings a second life!
Learn how to create them in PowerPoint by first downloading my “electronic stencils” and then watching my video tutorial below. I’ll demonstrate how the stencils are created from scratch in my next post!
One of my favorite activities to keep my two year old busy is coloring: I strap her into a highchair away from walls and other furniture, layer my dining table with a large plastic bag, and let her go at it.
Instead of buying coloring books, however, I typically make my own because I can tailor the graphics to my toddler’s interest—which lately has been the alphabet.
Creating a coloring sheet is actually quite easy in PowerPoint. Yes, PowerPoint—a program that typically comes bundled in our Microsoft Office! Check out my video* below for a quick tutorial. Print a bunch for the next rainy day activity or personalize it with someone’s name for your next gift bag stuffer along with a box of crayons!
* It’s my very first video tutorial! Any feedback would be greatly appreciated!
A thought about the typefaces
One of my biggest pet peeves with children’s books, especially those that try to teach the alphabet, is their choice in typeface. Many popular ones use the two-story lowercase “a” and “g” for legibility reasons, but this could be confusing for pre-schoolers who are learning to write the one-story version. While it’s not a big deal with older kids and adults, the Dumpling and I definitely have had disagreements about this. Therefore, I tend to stick with Century Gothic as it has the one-story “a” and “g.” Comic Sans is another one that often comes pre-packaged with Office…laugh all you want, but kids actually like this!
Despite my love for wooden toys, it’s not realistic for our family to escape plastic ones entirely. They are everywhere because the truth is that there is a lot to love about them—they’re affordable, easy to clean, and come in so many vibrant colors and shapes. These are the ones currently in our toy rotation because the Dumpling and I play with them so often!
They are a huge crowd pleaser when we host play dates, but I normally keep just few out and hide the rest…otherwise they end up everywhere—under the couch, on the beds, inside the washing machine, etc. The balls are great for gross motor skill activities: we toss, roll, and kick them around the house since they’re too soft to do any damage.
I don’t let the Dumpling have free access to crayons or markers (for good reason), so we have a magnetic doodle board instead. It is a staple and has never left our toy box (our second one is currently on its last legs). We use it to free draw, review shapes, letters, and numbers, and have drawing contests!
Magnetic Foam Alphabet
Given the Dumpling’s obsession with the alphabet lately, we use this to review letters quite often.
I love these water “magic” pens because they also provide mess-free coloring. While the Dumpling initially didn’t pay attention to the alphabet on top, she “colored” the pictures so often that they were always in her peripheral vision.
We love open-ended toys because our imagination is really the limit. The Dumpling just builds and builds and builds…I’m pretty sure she constructed something like the double decker couch once.
Cutting Food Set
The Dumpling loves pretend play in the kitchen, so I’m looking to replace the set (which was a hand-me-down) with a wooden alternative since she actually tried to lick some of these.
This wraps up what is currently in our toy box. I will continue to update what is in our rotation once we shake things up a bit!