Cambridge University Press recently sent us through some of their Penpals at Home books, aimed at children aged 3-5 years old. Penpals is the leading brand in UK primary schools for handwriting and this is the first time the books have been published for parents to use with their children at home. As an added bonus, they come with a free app, really bringing the letters and patterns to life.
Pierre was instantly attracted to the brightly-coloured books, definitely seeing them as fun rather than work. The books teach early handwriting skills such as patterns and print letter formation, using a variety of fun exercises and activities that feature cute animal characters and colourful illustrations.
The first book we tried, Getting Ready For Handwriting, invites young learners to practise handling a pen to draw over patterns of dots, straight lines, wavy lines, squares, circles and so on.
Rather than copying pointless sequences of lines and squiggles (that I remember from school !), the activities ask your child to complete drawings, making it all more fun.
As well as practising fine motor skills (holding and handling a pen), your child's observation skills are also called into play as they are asked to spot similar patterns within the pictures and the world around them.
The second book, Forming Letters, is slightly more complex, focusing on forming individual letters from the four letter families that are widely recognised and used in schools: long ladder letters, curly caterpillar letters, one-armed robot letters and zigzag monster letters. (Why was learning letters never this much fun when I was at school ?!)
The letters are formed individually, rather than being used in actual words, which would have been nice (but will probably be covered in another book in the series). The final activity in this book is copying the whole alphabet in upper and lower case letters.
There are various activities for parents to do with their children - tracing over the letters with a finger while sounding out the letters, for example - but Pierre is happy to just sit by himself copying over the letters then rubbing them out and starting again.
Pierre loves the fact that it's a write-on-wipe-off book that he can use over and over again. I've actually been amazed to see how hard he concentrates and how patient he can be. I would have liked to have had a pen attached to the books though, as we seem to spend ages looking for a whiteboard marker every time he wants to use the books !
star rating : 4.5/5
RRP : £4.99
Disclosure : We received the books in order to write an honest review.
Other blogposts you may be interested in :