Pointer: Create a buzz. "Many well-meaning parents buy workbooks and have kids sit quietly in a chair and trace letters over and over again," says Nellie Edge, a kindergarten and early-literacy specialist in Salem, Oregon. "That's totally uninspiring." Her zany alternative: Spray shaving cream on the kitchen counter or table and help your child write his name in the foam. The next day, draw letters with finger-paints. Wikki Stix, Play-Doh, and Lego blocks are toy-box favorites you can also use to shape letters. "You want to send the message to your child that learning to write is going to be one of the most fun things to do," says Edge.