When my 3-year-old started Preschool, I had a hard time realizing she wasn’t a baby anymore, but I knew it was important for her social development, as well as getting her prepared for kindergarten.
One of the main topics they cover in pre-k is writing and pre-writing tasks. Every single thing they do, even if it doesn’t appear to be focused on pre-writing, totally is!
Sounds great, right? But what can you do at home to work on the same skills without making it seem like school? If you’re lucky, you’ll have a toddler that loves to do arts and crafts because that will make it much easier to work on fine motor skills. If they don’t, I still have some activities on this list that will allow for fun and learning to happen simultaneously.
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Ok, so as adults we hate this stuff, right? It gets EVERYWHERE and God forbid it lands on carpet! Even though it’s a pain in the butt to manage and clean, it’s an easy and fun resource to use when it comes to working on pre-writing skills.
Just playing with playdough is great for building strength in hands for a preschooler. Practice making balls, rolling playdough into snakes, or create fun designs. You can even print out letters and have your child trace the letters with the playdoh. If they are a little older, have them recreate the letters next to the paper!
Here’s another one that is fun, but can be messy! This activity will let your preschooler practice the pincer grip (super important for writing) by painting with a q-tip. Kids love this activity and you get to make beautiful art! Again, feel free to give them letters to create, but really, just using the q-tip is a pre-writing exercise all by itself.
I remember these from when I was a kid and I loved them! You can buy lace cards on Amazon, or you can make your own using cardboard or foam sheets. They sell the foam sheets at any arts and craft store and places like Walmart and Target. This is great for fine and gross motor skills which will help your preschooler when it comes to writing tasks.
Beads and Pipe Cleaners
Super easy – slide the beads onto the pipe cleaners. They also sell necklace kits online with some Disney and movie characters that you can use, as well. My daughter received three of these kits for Christmas and they are her favorite things to create. The good thing is that it works on fine motor movements (taking those beads on and off isn’t easy for a three-year-old) and it’s also fun for the preschooler to redesign and keep creating new looks.
Yikes – scissors. Don’t worry – they make safety scissors that are much safer than regular cutters. If your preschooler isn’t having much success with paper, don’t be afraid to break out that play-doh again and have them cut that into shapes and chunks. Cutting paper requires more fine motor and gross motor skills, so don’t be worried if your tot can’t handle that right away. You don’t want to frustrate them too much, or they won’t want to keep completing the task.
Writing in Corn Meal
Dump a whole bunch of cornmeal on a tray and let your preschooler trace letters and shapes with their fingers. If you don’t have cornmeal, use flour! You can even make it more colorful if you dump some sprinkles into the flour. If you really want to make things challenging, dump bigger sprinkles and have your child sort them by color. This works on the pincer grip and fine motor movements!
An easy fine motor activity is to use tweezers to pick up and transfer objects. They do make cute tweezers for preschool kids, but they are hard to find. You can use beads, cotton balls, or any other small objects and have your child pick them up and dump them into cups. You can work on color sorting, counting, and shapes with this activity.
Opening a clothespin takes a lot of strength. I love to use count and clip sheets to practice with clothespins. The child simply counts the objects on the cards and then puts a clothespin on the correct number.
Simply take a glass of water and have your child practice using a water dropper. You can use food coloring to add a little bit more fun to the activity. Again, take different color cups and have them sort by color to add a little extra thinking to the task. The squeezing motion will help build strength in your child’s hand.
Practicing Writing Skills
While these are all great activities, it’s also important to let your child practice with markers, crayons and pencils. They need to learn how to hold everything and manipulate it in order to learn how to write with the object. Old fashioned coloring books and painting books will work great!
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