My son is 5yo and has recently started kindergarten. I would like to help him practice his handwriting but find he gets rather bored just copying letters I write for him. He does a little better when he tells me a phrase, I write it, and he copies it, but I'd like to find additional methods for improving his penmanship that are fun for him so he's less likely to get bored and give up.
There are several activities involved in learning good handwriting. The first is simply hand-eye coordination. How well is your son able to color inside lines, tie his shoes, button shirts, etc? If he has issues with that sort of thing, give him activities where he manipulates small objects - say, sorting different kinds of beans, colors, or does dot-to-dot drawings.
To focus solely on handwriting, maybe buy some "trace the letters" activity books. These usually have illustrations he can color, so hopefully that will keep him more occupied than merely writing phrases. Make sure he keeps his hands relaxed though, since often it's easy to cramp up when you're trying to follow the lines exactly. Make sure he does some basic forms first to warm up (iii, lll, ooo, eee). You can also write stories and let him fill in some of the words from a separate word list he has to copy from.
When I was about seven I remember going to a museum and seeing all sorts of beautiful old documents, from illuminated manuscripts to letters from the 1700's. That really inspired me to improve my handwriting significantly, and I spent several hours a day practicing the next few weeks. Perhaps something similar might help your son see what he can achieve with a lot of hard work.
Make sure your child has a correct and comfortable pen grip.
Ask your child's teachers what handwriting model they're using - you probably don't want to teach conflicting methods.
Immediately before your child starts writing anything they should, on a separate piece of paper, do a short set of hand "warm up" exercises. This will be a few WWW, UUU, mmm, ooo, CCC shapes. Not many, many 5 to 10 of each. (Start small, build up).
The website briem has some information about pen holding and handwriting repair. Watch out for that handwriting model though - it's a bit zig-zaggy. http://briem.net/
The website activityvillage has some nice downloadable worksheets that have a variety of hand writing exercises, from pre-handwriting readiness (tracing wavy lines) through to hand writing models. http://www.activityvillage.co.uk/handwriting-worksheets
In order to improve handwriting your son should learn how to relax his hand. I recommend following exercise:
Place a A3 size paper on a door or a wall. Give him a pen a ask to draw something like number 8 or call it snowman. Ask him to draw a cloud etc. Start from simple shapes and improve complexity.
OH I love this question!
Dot to Dot puzzles: LINK
Complete the picture puzzles: LINK
Colouring is a great way to improve the skills necessary for writing. So are cutting, using tweezers or tongs. Sewing and weaving are also great skills. They all lead to better control.
By writing, I will assume you mean printing, but if you do mean cursive writing, then tracing loops and swirls and circles and lines also help. They also work with printing, so it's win/win.
Fun colours of pens and pencils can't hurt. Add stickers to make it more fun.
You start a drawing and let your child finish or colour it in.
Model: printing, writing, and colouring and drawing. Do homework as a family. Write in a journal or on a calendar. Use colours and drawings, painting by numbers is fun, easy and teaches hand control in a fun way.
Listen to music, make the experience fun. Show your child that you are enjoying it, too.
Write letters to Grandparents, cartoon characters -- the tooth fairy. If you actually can mail things and get answers -- wow. That's exciting. You could mail things to yourself at work, and answer your special penpal.