October 2023 Newsletter – Prewriting Skills in Early Childhood: Prewriting Activities for Preschoolers

Prewriting Activities for Preschoolers

As children mature, they continue to enjoy many of the same materials and activities that are included on the list of suggested activities for infants and toddlers.  In many cases, the materials can be adapted to meet the developmental needs of the children.  For example, in a preschool classroom, various sizes of interlocking blocks should be available to ensure that children can practice building with materials that match their abilities.

Teachers may choose to add firmer clay to the play dough options made available to children.  Teachers can introduce more advanced dance moves, finger plays, and games that promote the refinement of motor skills.

Here are some activity ideas that can be incorporated into a preschool environment.

  • Class chores – Chores require specific fine motor skills while they build a sense of community and responsibility. Children can squeeze sponges before wiping tables with soapy water. They can strengthen coordination skills when they sweep around the sensory table. They can build hand strength by opening clothes pins to hang up smocks.
  • Threading and lacing – Older children may show interest in lacing cards or threading beads. Both activities promote fine motor development and hand-eye coordination.
  • Stress balls – Early learning environments can become stressful, especially if children are not given strategies to relieve their stress. Squeezing stress balls is an outlet for stress and a great way to strengthen hand muscles.
  • Infinity sign games– The infinity sign resembles the number 8 laid on its side. Teachers can create a poster or file folder game that encourages children to trace the shape of the infinity sign with a marker or toy vehicle.  The goal is to make the sign large enough that the children must cross the midline of their body while tracing the shape.  Teachers can also create large, simple mazes that children can solve.
  • Novel materials – To promote interest in writing, introduce a variety of materials that can be used for writing. Chalk, glitter markers, neon crayons, and safely-scented finger paint can draw children’s interest better than a standard pencil.
  • Sandpaper and other textures – When children begin to recognize shapes, letters, and numbers, teachers can create homemade sets using textured materials. For example, teachers could post the alphabet made out of sandpaper on the back of a shelf.  Children can be encouraged to trace the letters with their fingers.  They could also match letters made out of felt to the letters made out of sandpaper, sticking them to the back of the shelf once they find a match.  Store the felt letters in a zip-sealed bag to give children another opportunity to practice fine motor skills when they open and close the bag.

Again, there is no shortage of ideas that build prewriting skills available on the internet or in published curriculum products.  Know that it is not necessary to purchase a special handwriting curriculum, especially if you have created a print-rich environment and support spontaneous writing opportunities.

Most children are interested in writing the letters of their name first, so be sure to customize your instruction to reflect this fact.  Capitalize on the interests of the children and expose them to lots of opportunities to make their mark.

Recognize effort, not perfection.  Provide models for children to follow, but know that they do not have the skills to copy words exactly as you can.  That will come with practice. You will need to adjust your expectations based on the developmental levels of the children in your care.  And in many cases – you will need to help children adjust their expectations – writing is a skill that takes time to develop so help children recognize how far they have come in their writing efforts.

To learn more, consider this resource.


For the main article Prewriting Skills in Early Childhood, CLICK HERE

For the article The Development of Writing Skills, CLICK HERE

For the article Prewriting Skills, CLICK HERE

For the article Prewriting Activities for Infants and Toddlers, CLICK HERE