Pre-writing activities for preschoolers not only help our youngest learners learn the shape and structure of the letters in the alphabet, but they also serve a number of other functions as well. According to education blogger Lisette, from Where Imagination Grows, pre-writing practice teaches directionality in writing, encourages fine muscle development and coordination, and also helps students process sensory information critical to the writing process.
Here are 22 super fun, easy-to-make activities that your preschoolers will love!
1. Squishy Bags
All you need to make these awesome sensory bags is resealable zipper storage bags, flour, water, and food coloring. Kids can use cotton swabs or their fingers to draw shapes, lines, and letters on the bag.
2. Bubble Wrap
Source: Coffee Cups and Crayons
What a great way to recycle all that leftover bubble wrap! Simply write letters on sheets of bubble wrap with a Sharpie and let kids pop their way to letter recognition.
3. Play-Doh Snakes
Source: In My World
Kids can’t resist the sensory lure of Play-Doh! For this activity, kids can roll small balls of dough into long snakes and form letters by bending and joining the snakes together.
4. Play-Doh and Drinking Straws
Flatten out a medium-size piece of Play-Doh on a flat surface. Then use a sharp object to draw a letter on the flattened area. (Make sure that the letter is large enough to be easily recognizable when filled with straws.) Cut plastic straws into one-inch segments. Let kids “trace” the letters with the colorful straw segments.
5. Dot Markers
Source: 3 Dinosaurs
Students use dot markers to practice the mechanics of writing and get used to the angles and curves of letters. Click on the link above to download 12 free pages of pre-writing dot marker worksheets.
6. Cotton Swabs and Paint
Source: Lessons Learnt Journal
This is a fun activity to help kids work on their fine motor skills and get the hang of the all-important pencil grip.
7. LEGO Blocks
Source: Wildflower Ramblings
Blocks! Young kids can’t get enough of building and creating with them. Put their creative energy to good work with these free printable letter cards.
8. Shaving Cream
Source: Mess for Less
This classic activity is a great starting place for pre-writers. All you need is a tray and a can of shaving cream.
9. Glitter Glue
Source: Growing Hands-On Kids
Pre-writing lines are important building blocks for any preschooler to master before learning letter formations. Download this glitter glue pre-writing line practice for preschoolers activity.
Source: Artsy Momma
Just like the one above, this activity builds fine motor skills that your young students need to begin writing. Instead of using glitter glue, though, students use inexpensive pony beads (found at any craft store) to follow the lines.
11. Sand Tray
Source: Our Little House in the Country
One of the simplest activities to put together for your students to practice pre-writing is a sand tray. Kids can use their fingers or an unsharpened pencil to practice writing. As an alternative to sand, you can fill your tray with salt, flour, cornmeal, or rice.
12. Squeeze Bottle
Source:: Playdough to Plato
Fill a plastic squeeze bottle with salt or sugar and let students trace letters on cards.
13. Rainbow Tray
Source: Where Imagination Grows
This resource is so simple to make, and kids love it! Simply tape colored tissue paper in a rainbow pattern to the bottom of a clear plastic tray. Fill it with sand, and as the kids trace lines and letters, the colors below are revealed. The image above shows the tray on top of a light table, which adds another dimension of fun to the activity!
14. Masking Tape
Source: And Next Comes L
A roll of colored masking tape and a clear surface make this a fun center activity at writing time.
15. Magnet Board
Source: Days with Gray
Tape letters onto a magnet board and let your little ones trace them with magnets. In the example above, the teacher made the letters into roads, and the students drove their car magnets along them.
16. Lacing Cards
Source: Teaching Mama
Grasping a string between tiny fingers and threading the end through the holes in a lacing card is great fine motor practice for preschoolers. It also begins to build muscle memory for holding a pencil properly.
Preschoolers will have so much fun creating patterns, swirls, squiggles, and zig-zags with colorful buttons. And they’ll be building skills while they’re at it!
18. Sticker Line Up
Source: Busy Toddler
Preschoolers need to use a pinching motion, which builds fine motor skills, to peel sticker dots off the page. Then, they use hand-eye coordination to place each sticker on the drawn line. This activity would be perfect for a writing or free time station.
19. Fingerprint Writing
Source: Happy Toddler Playtime
Some kids may not like to get their fingers this messy, but others will adore it! For this activity, you will need poster paper and a palette of washable ink. Draw letters, shapes, and lines on a clean piece of paper. Then, show kids how to dip their pointer finger onto the ink pad, then follow the lines dot by dot.
20. Clothespin Clipping
Source: Teaching Mama
Using a clothespin takes a lot of grip strength. This image shows a student using a clothespin to choose the correct answer to a number problem, but any activity that involves clipping will help them build the fine motor skills required for writing.
Source: Play of the Wild
Cutting and snipping activities with scissors are excellent ways for children to practice fine motor skills and control. Give your students lots of opportunities to practice their cutting skills with paper, string, card stock, even Play-Doh!
22. Scrunching Paper
Scrunching paper into a ball is great for building hand strength. Let your students use computer paper, newspaper, tissue paper, or wrapping paper. Then play a game of paper ball tag!