Pre-writing skills are vital to children's success when it comes to being confident, able writers. Think of it like working out--you cannot decide to be a weightlifter and automatically be able to lift your body weight. The same goes for children and writing. The activities included here will help them work those writing muscles and prepare them for a lifetime of success.
1. Squishy Sensory Bags
Follow the link to learn how to make a great sensory activity without a bunch of mess--squishy bags! Using either cotton swabs or their fingers, children can practice drawing letters and numbers on the outside of their squishy bags.
Learn more: Learning 4 Kids
2. Shaving Cream Writing
While it is a little messier than the last activity, it is no less fun! Give children pieces of paper with simple words written on them and have them use their fingers to copy these words into the shaving cream. Holding a tool to trace the words into the shaving cream will help build muscle memory for holding pencils later on.
Learn more: Mess for Less
3. Writing in the Sand
This can be a fun indoor or outdoor activity, using either a sand tray or a sandbox to complete. Get the sand wet and let children use their fingers or sticks to write out the alphabet. A fun twist is using food coloring to make colorful sand! An alternative to sand you might have on hand is flour.
Learn more: Scholastic
4. Pre-Writing with Playdough
If you are looking for fine motor activities to help with pre-writing, look no further. This activity helps your child practice both fine motor and pre-writing skills as they manipulate the playdough and draw letters into it.
Learn more: Heidi Marie Scarsella
5. Bubble Wrap Writing
What kid doesn't love bubble wrap? After you draw the children's names on the bubble wrap, have them practice their fine motor skills by tracing the letters with their fingers. And then when they are done with this fun activity, they can pop the bubbles!
Learn more: Coffee Cups and Crayons
6. Playdough Letter Writing
Using laminated card stock, children practice their hand-eye coordination using playdough to shape letters. This is great for building both pre-writing and fine motor skills. This lovely pre-writing activity is great because the kids feel like they are playing, but they are actually learning!
Learn more: Child Care Land
7. Beads and Pipe Cleaners
Another activity to strengthen children's hand-eye coordination is this activity that has them string beads onto pipe cleaners. They will use their pincer grip to hold the beads, which sets the foundation for them holding pencils and writing.
Learn more: Teaching Mama
8. Pre-Writing Worksheets
The Kindergarten Connection offers many free printable worksheets for pre-writing. Children will learn to grip the pencil while they practice the skill of tracing. After, they can practice their fine motor skills even more by coloring in the characters (and staying within the lines!) on the worksheets.
Learn more: The Kindergarten Connection
9. Paper Scrunching
This paper scrunching activity is great because it helps students practice multiple skills. This fun sensory activity will have them working on their hand strength (which later will aid them in writing) while also practicing fine motor skills. If you use colored tissue paper, at the end they will have completed a fun art project!
Learn more: Child Care Land
10. Chalk Writing
Decorating pavement with chalk drawings is a favorite activity of preschoolers. Little do they know, they are practicing their fine motor skills, which are the building blocks for their prewriting skills while doing so! Have them focus on shapes first, and then move on to letters and numbers!
Learn more: Occupational Therapy Fox C6
11. Learning with Song
Another thing kids love is music and dancing. Give them opportunities to get up and move their bodies to really get them engaged in the learning process. This activity has them practicing straight and curved lines while bopping to a beat!
Learn more: Jack Hartmann Kids Music Channel
12. Tweezers for Hand Strength
This activity for building strength in children's hands sets the stage for writing success later on. It also allows them to explore the world around them while using their fine motor skills. This is great to put into your open-ended activities, as you can use tweezers to have children do many things--like grab certain color beads out of containers or pick up macaroni noodles scattered on the sidewalk!
Learn more: Tinkergarten
13. Masking Tape Letters
Activities with scissors and tape always engage children, as they love to manipulate the scissors and the stickiness of the tape. Use a mirror and masking tape to practice writing children's names. The best part about this enjoyable activity? Easy clean-up!
Learn more: And Next Comes L
14. Sticker Line Up
This activity for preschoolers will have them practicing tracing shapes with stickers while at the same time practicing their pincer drip while they grip the stickers to place on the paper. After they have traced the shapes on the paper, give them the freedom to create their own shapes using the stickers.
Learn more: Busy Toddler
15. Push Pin Maze
Follow the link above to learn how to make a push-pin maze. Children will practice pencil grip while they navigate their way through these fun mazes.
Learn more: Planning Playtime