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Pre Writing Skills Practiced in Preschool

written by: Keren Perles • edited by: Sarah Malburg • updated: 9/11/2012

Although preschoolers cannot yet write, they are learning skills that will help them when that time comes. Take a look at some of these pre-writing skills for preschool, as well as tips on how you can help your students develop those skills.

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    Holding a Pencil

    One of the most basic pre-writing skills for preschoolers is that of holding a pencil correctly. Many preschoolers have learned to grasp a crayon – and therefore a pencil – with their whole fist. If a student seems only able to use all five of her fingers to grasp a pencil, try cutting three holes in the end of a clean sock and show her how to stick her thumb, pointer, and middle finger through the wholes. She can then hold a pencil without worrying about the two fingers remaining inside of the sock.

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    Improving Small Motor Skills

    In order for a child to use a pencil appropriately, his fine motor skills will have to be adequately developed. Try letting children cut out shapes, thread a shoelace through sewing card holes, string beads on a thread, and pick up objects with tweezers in order to improve these small motor skills.

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    Learning Direction Words

    In order for preschoolers to be able to write letters, they will first need to understand basic direction words, such as “up,” “down,” “across,” and “around.” After all, most teachers will teach students to write the capital letter “A” by saying “Draw a line up and down, and then draw a line across.” To teach students this basic prewriting skill, you can play plenty of fun games with them. Give them light scarves or handkerchiefs for them to wave around as you call out directions, have them hop up and down like a frog or a rabbit, or show them how to drive toy cars around and around in a circle.

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    Tracing Shapes

    The next step in learning how to write involves tracing shapes. This improves students’ hand-eye coordination and helps them get used to using a pencil or crayon to draw in a specific direction. Start off with simple shapes, such as a circle, a square, or a triangle, and show them how to carefully trace over the lines on the paper. Then move to more complex shapes, such as the outline of an animal or a random curvy line. To make these activities more fun, you can start to make the lines dotted so that students feel like they are drawing their own pictures or “figuring out” what the picture will be. They can then color in the picture that they have traced, adding any details that they would like.

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    Drawing Lines and Curves

    Once preschoolers have mastered tracing shapes, you’ll want to make sure that they can easily draw straight lines and curves (such as circles). To teach them to draw straight lines, you can play “connect the dots” games, emphasizing that the lines that connect the dots should be as straight as possible. You can then teach them to draw circles by making caterpillars or snowmen with them. When they have mastered the basic line and circle, play “follow the leader” games with them, in which the teacher says a set of directions such as “Draw a line to the right, and then draw a small circle. Does your picture look like mine?”

    Teaching children these pre-writing skills for preschoolers can help them learn how to write more easily when the time comes. Don’t forget to make these activities as fun as possible!

Lesson Plans for Early Childhood

This series includes several lesson plans for early childhood teachers, including introductory lessons on science and math.
  1. Early Childhood Lesson Plans: Learning About Science
  2. Fun Ways to Teach Ordinal Numbers: First, Second, Third
  3. Pre Writing Skills Practiced in Preschool