pre-writing skills for preschool

by Barb on October 25, 2013

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Since we transferred my youngest son from a preschool emphasizing academic skills to a nursery school emphasizing social development, I decided to work on prewriting skills with him at home. While watching my son work on some of his papers for the preschool program, I noticed that he hadn’t learned the correct pencil grip. He’s also been very eager to pick out the same books at the library that his older siblings are reading, yet he’s not able to understand them beyond the pictures. Having homeschooled my oldest son from preschool through 6th grade, I feel confident enough to do simple prewriting activities at home with my youngest son.

Pre-writing Skills for Preschool

Pencil Grip

To help my 5 year old naturally develop a stronger pencil grip which will ultimately help him stay strong in school when he’s writing more, we’ll be incorporating a variety of activities into our time together.

  1. Use a rubber pencil grip on a pencil to help him get used to the feel of holding the pencil correctly.
  2. Talk about and model what a correct grip looks like. He needs to see the first finger and thumb come together on the pencil while the pencil rests on his middle finger.
  3. Work with playdough/modeling dough. Playdough is such an easy way to develop strength in kids’ hands while being something fun to do.
  4. Free Cutting Practice Sheets from Royal Baloo and Logi Bear, too
  5. Dot Printable Worksheets from Crystal and Co.
  6. Color Mixing Tray from my archives
  7. Melissa & Doug Beginner Pattern Blocks
  8. Regular Pattern Blocks from my archives

Pre-writing Skills for Preschool

Letter Formation

We’ll be practicing letter formation sometimes together with our writing skills and sometimes separately. One of the Montessori activities I used with my middle son when he was a preschooler was sandpaper letters. Kids trace the letters with their fingers learning that they start at the top left of the letter and go right to left and top to bottom.

Another way to practice is with a pan full of sand. Kids can draw to their heart’s content in the sand and learn how to size the letters in their name to make the name fit in the pan.

  1. Free Writing Printables from
  2. Wipe Clean Workbook: Tracing and Pen Control
  3. Printing Readiness Worksheets from Donna Young
  4. Tracing and Coloring Pages from Donna Young
  5. LeapFrog Scribble and Write Tablet

What are your favorite ways to teach your preschooler or Kindergartener pre-writing skills and letter formation?

Because I love meeting new people and sharing, this post is linked to:

The Weekly Kid’s Coop, Family Fun Friday

Meet Barb

Barb Hoyer has written 3939 posts.

After working in the fundraising world for over ten years, Barb is an avid runner, writer, photographer, parent volunteer, and lover of dictionaries and thesauruses. Wife to an engineer and mom to 5 kids, Barb lives in the suburbs of Philly. Her idea of relaxation is an afternoon on the couch with a stack of books.

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Trish October 25, 2013 at 8:06 am

Love this round up!
Trish recently posted..Cursive-ed and other news from Back-to-School Night


carrie October 25, 2013 at 9:08 am

Thanks for the great ideas! My 3 year old needs some intentional play like this and I needed the inspiration!
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Barb October 25, 2013 at 9:31 am

When I started researching pre-writing skills, the activities we used to do started coming back to me. I forgot how much fun I had with preschool!


Gina Badalaty October 25, 2013 at 9:31 am

Actually, Zoe is 8 and handwriting is a serious problem for her – and I will try some of these. I realize it’s a disability issue but we will try some of these! She also loves to paint her letters, or trace in shaving cream. There’s also a tracing app for iPad.
Gina Badalaty recently posted..Book Review: “The Invisible Girls: A Memoir” #ad


Colleen (Souffle Bombay) October 25, 2013 at 10:03 am

I miss those days! You are a good mom- giving him an early edge! Good stuff! My kids enjoyed making letters and words in sand too – for something different :)
Colleen (Souffle Bombay) recently posted..Fall Chex Mix


Shannon @ GrowingSlower October 25, 2013 at 10:32 am

Great ideas! I’m pinning this to my preschool home school board for when my little one is a bit older. Thanks!
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Chrystal @ Happy Mothering October 27, 2013 at 1:28 pm

Thanks for all of the ideas! I will have to try some of these with my 3-year old.
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Anna - Piper's Run October 31, 2013 at 9:49 am

This is great…just what I was wanting to find for my 3 year old! Thanks for sharing.
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Becky November 17, 2013 at 5:46 pm

I just made the sandpaper letters. I love the idea of the sand tracing too!
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