I usually have some kind of handwriting self starter that the kids do first thing when they come in the morning. I call it "Morning Workshop," and it usually only lasts for about 5-10 minutes. This gives me some time to take roll and finish any last minute preperations, while also giving the students some time to socialize a bit before we get started...(as well as to practice handwriting, of course).
I read about this great idea on Fairy Dust Teaching, and decided to adapt it for the animal unit I've been teaching the past two weeks. At the beginning of the unit, I gave every student a simple book with a handwriting line on the bottom of each blank page. When the kids come in, there is a drawing of an animal on the board, with the name printed underneath on enlarged handwriting lines. Their job is to copy the drawing and the placement of the letters on the line as best as they can. If there is time, they can color it and add details. By the end of the unit, they will have filled up the book with 10 different animal drawings. I really like this concept, because they are working on fine motor skills and letter formation, in addition to animal vocabulary words in a fast and easy activity.
The kids love it too. They have been really excited to see which animal I have chosen for each day.
Here was yesterday's animal:
Some tree frogs:
Some other pages: