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Honing Fine Motor Development in Preschool With Writing Activities

written by: Sylvia Cochran • edited by: Wendy Finn • updated: 1/17/2012

Putting pencil to paper to create their first printed letters and numbers is a great accomplishment for any preschooler. Getting your kids ready for this feat requires the correct writing activities that help little hands get ready for a tight grip and the long movements across paper.

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    Choosing the Write Activities

    You already know that your preschoolers love to put their crayons to paper and create a number of masterpieces, but you also know that this is a far cry from getting them ready to create uniformly recognizable letters and numbers. Depending on the ages of the children in your care, you may need to focus on fine motor development before you can offer the first worksheets for letter design.

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    Writing Readiness Exercises

    Preschool classrooms with younger participants should start out by copying straight lines from the left side of the paper to the right. Take a plain piece of paper, mark a line made up of dots along the length of it, and then ask the children to connect the dots – from the left to the right – across the paper. Offer the children differently colored pencils for the exercise, and they have the first opportunities to learn how to move a pencil, as opposed to a crayon, in the direction of the written word.

    Move on to zig-zag lines and also curved lines. This prepares the preschoolers for the rounded letters as well as the sudden edges of capital letters. Again, dot the paper for the children, and emphasize that the tracing must be done from the left to the right. You may observe that some children are still experimenting with right and left hand drawing. Resist the urge to specify a right handed grip, and instead encourage your students to use the hand that feels best.

    If your children are flying through these fine motor development activities at record speeds, you may now be ready to trace some short diagonal lines from left to right and also right to left. Always underscore that the children need to start at the very left side of the page and work their way across the page to the right. U-shapes and circles are next, and present the more challenging aspects of forming small shapes.

    For children that are finding these activities somewhat challenging to their fine motor skills, you may wish to start with some prewriting activities before venturing on to these exercises.

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    Any Preschool Writing Activity Thrives on Repetition and Reward

    Initially the children will be excited by these new drawing games, and they will eagerly participate. Over the course of the week, you may need to introduce rewards to go along with the continuous repetition of the exercises. Carefully time your preschool writing activity for the times when the children are not fatigued or antsy but enthusiastic to sit down for a bit of desk work.

    Vary the exercises by allowing the children to also trace dots on a chalkboard or the dry erase board of the classroom. Standing in the front of the class may be a special treat for a child who has shown great diligence in preparing a set number of sheets at home or during class time.

    Rewards also include game play that furthers writing readiness. For example, Bright Hub’s own Sonal Panse wrote an article entitled “Spelling Games and Activities for Your Preschooler-The Spelling Cow," which explains how incorporating simple games not only enhances preschoolers’ spelling abilities, but also encourages keeping on practicing their letters.

Early Preschool Writing Activities

Getting preschoolers ready for their earliest writing activity requires educators to be on top of productive game play, fun rewards, and also the nuts and bolts of pre-printing and pre-writing exercises.
  1. Honing Fine Motor Development in Preschool With Writing Activities
  2. Four Fun Preschool Activities That Provide Early Writing Practice