Thank you, Jennifer, your response was very helpful. I actually wasn't thinking of telling a whole story for the writing of each letter, but more like the descriptions you included for the letter M: “We start at the top of its first peak, which touches the sky and draw a straight line down to the earth.” I suppose I will need to get creative in connecting the formation of the letter with its anchor picture, or maybe I can just describe the formation as I see it? (My creativity feels like it's at an all-time low these days.)
Let’s see if I can help provide some additional advice:
You don't connect the description to the anchor picture but to the letter formation chart and whatever elements you used to describe the three zones on the paper with dotted midlines (e.g., sky, ground, below ground). (See figure 3.2.10 on page 120 for another image.) It is just a coincidence that the anchor picture for M mountain happens to coincide with the image for the dotted midline! : )
So, for the capital letter S, you might say you start up high up, swoop up to touch the sky, blow to the left, then to the right, come back to the center land on the ground, and then swoop up to the left. Thus, the key elements to use in the image are the sky and ground. You would use the same for all the other letters. Each letter will be described based on these three zones made by the dotted midline.
Thus, the description of the formation of letters requires no need for a teacher to create new imaginations or images–just an ability to use the letter formation chart and describe how to make each line in relation to, say, sky, ground, and below ground. Keep it simple–the goal is for the student to realize that there are three zones on the paper, and s/he has to use these three zones to write a letter. Once the student has that idea, the image has served its purpose. (Ironically, if you keep changing the image for each letter, it could take the student longer to learn handwriting–and tax your creativity and lead to long hours of lesson planning in the process.)
It can be even easier. Once students get the idea that there are three zones, some children do not need/want this description of how to form the letters. They just want to see the diagram of the letter and try forming it themselves. (That is how I was when I was learning the alphabet–by the middle of the school year, I tuned my teacher out while she described how to write a letter. I just wanted to see the diagram and try forming the letters myself. Occasionally I made mistakes and my teacher helped me correct them by describing what I did wrong and then describing how to form the letter correctly while pointing to examples of each. Then, her descriptions were much appreciated because I needed them!)
Once your child gets the idea that there are three zones, you can forego the descriptive element for some or all letters–or even challenge him or her to provide the description! (Some students love that–others dislike it.)
Play around with it a little bit. See what works best for you and your child. And please let me know if I can provide further information.