5 Effective Prewriting Activities for Preschool & Kindergarten Aged Kids

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Have you ever watched a preschooler pick up a crayon and attempt to “write” something on paper? It usually comes out as a scribble, right? While it is adorable, have you ever thought about what it takes to move from these first scribbles to legible handwriting? Here’s a hint. . . it’s a lot! Motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and much more are all needed. Being intentional about weaving prewriting activities into your daily activities at home or in the classroom is a great place to start.

Help your preschool and kindergarten prewriting students get ready to write with these fun and effective prewriting activities.

As teachers, we know how essential it is for preschool-aged students to engage in activities that develop the gross and fine motor skills that are required to write. We don’t have to leave this prewriting stage to chance. There are a variety of activities educators, parents, and caregivers can do to support preschoolers and kindergarten students in prewriting practice.

Why Use Prewriting Activities?

In this engaging prewriting activity, students will trace and color summer objects like glasses of lemonade and a beach ball.

I can’t stress enough how important it is to incorporate prewriting activities into the early learning of your students. These important activities serve as building blocks, laying the path for successful writers later on. By engaging in prewriting activities, your young students develop fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and spatial awareness. These activities also enhance cognitive abilities, such as problem-solving, critical thinking, and creativity.

Prewriting activities allow your students to practice important skills like letter and shape recognition, forming basic strokes, and understanding the concepts of line and space. By investing time and effort into prewriting activities, we are nurturing the foundation required for confident and proficient writers in the future.

Types of Prewriting Activities

The following prewriting activities are perfect for use with students who are 2-6 years old. They all offer amazing benefits to your kids and will support their later writing endeavors. The best part is that you can implement most of these activities using items lying around your house or classroom!

1. Fine Motor Activities for Prewriting

Playdough Exercises

Manipulating and shaping playdough will help strengthen your students’ hand muscles and improve finger coordination. Playdough mats are a fun way for your students to roll, pinch, and mold playdough with purpose. This is not only fun but will also build and improve your students’ fine motor control.

In this fun prewriting activity, students will use play dough to make shapes. This helps students to fine tune their fine motor abilities and prepare for holding pencils to write.

Fine motor activities are an important aspect of developing the necessary muscle strength and coordination required for precise movements. These activities involve your students’ use of the small muscles in their fingers, hands, and wrists. By engaging in these activities, your students will enhance their hand and finger dexterity, grip strength, and pencil control. All of which enables your students to effectively use writing tools. There are so many amazing fine motor resources out there, but here are a few activities that my students LOVE!

Beading and Lacing

Stringing beads or using lacing cards supports your students’ development of fine motor skills too. Things like hand-eye coordination and hand strength are required to manipulate these small objects, thus improving your students’ finger control and concentration.

Sensory Activities

Engaging your students in activities like pouring and scooping (rice, sand, or water) with different utensils promotes their bilateral coordination, finger strength, and pincer grasp. These skills directly translate to holding and manipulating writing tools like pencils. They are also extremely fun and can be used in sensory tables or tubs in your home or classroom environment.

This photo shows a cutting activity that focuses on using scissors to improve students' fine motor skills. Students will cut along dotted lines that are zig zag to complete the activity.

Cutting with Scissors

I like to have my students use scissors to cut paper or other materials (fabric, sandpaper, playdough). Scissor skills help to develop hand strength, bilateral coordination, and precision. Cutting along lines or around shapes also assists children in developing their hand-eye coordination and spatial awareness.

2. Coloring

Did you know that coloring is a great prewriting skill builder? If your students are anything like mine, they love to color. Coloring builds prewriting skills through the building of grip strength and dexterity. If you let your students experiment with different writing tools, like crayons (I like using these to promote a good grip), markers, or pencils, your students will be having fun and expressing their creativity, while also building fundamental writing skills.

In this image, there is a lady bug themed "hidden picture" activity. Because students work on coloring each square according to a code, this is a great prewriting activity that targets fine motor skills!

Coloring activities are a great way to work on prewriting skills while also reviewing other skills. My students absolutely love coloring hidden pictures. Besides a focus that is second to none, the chatter about the mystery picture that is slowly unveiling itself is pure excitement. I love these editable hidden picture coloring pages because I can use them for any skill we are working on. At the beginning of the year, we might do a simple color by number or use the letters of the alphabet. Later in the year, we use these pages to work on sight words and other skills.

3. Line Tracing Activities

In my classroom, I use A LOT of line tracing activities to build writing skills. Some of my favorites (and student favorites) are Summer Prewriting Worksheets and Prewriting Practice Worksheets. I tend to reach for these resources because they contribute to the development of fine motor skills, concentration, and visual-spatial skills, while also promoting creativity and drawing abilities.

This image features a prewriting activity in which students will trace a path using crayons, markers or a pencil in order to work on fine motor skills.

When you have your students trace lines they begin to engage their fingers, hands, and writing tools in precise movements which builds the muscles necessary for writing. Along with muscle building, your students will improve their hand-eye coordination (which they use to track the line), concentration and focus (following the line without deviating from it), and attention skills.

While all of these skills are vital for preparing students to write, engaging in line tracing activities also exposes your students to a plethora of other skills they need to develop. Things like shapes, patterns, and strokes, visual-spatial skills, and the recognition and reproduction of letters and numbers are just a few of the skills tracing will expose your students to.

4. Simple Mazes for Prewriting

This photo shows a student completing a maze with a pencil, which is a great activity to use to improve fine motor skills when students are still in the prewriting stage.

When you give simple mazes to your young students, it will greatly benefit their building of prewriting skills. Mazes provide opportunities for your students to practice fine motor control as well as hand-eye coordination. These are built through the holding of their writing tool which strengthens their grip and their ability to maneuver accurately. Mazes also require the use of planning and problem-solving skills as students must think ahead and strategize the best path to the exit of the maze. Simple mazes are easily created at home or in the classroom, but if you’re looking for a few premade options, I have a few I love that I’ve found on Amazon. As you will see from the following list, not all mazes need to be paper/pencil.

5. Sorting and Matching Games

This photo shows a student putting together a space themed puzzle in a classroom. Puzzles are great fine motor activities that can be used in centers.

Using sorting and matching games may sound like an odd prewriting activity, but hear me out. Playing a variety of sorting and matching games will help to improve your students’ visual discrimination as well as improve their attention to detail. I will also incorporate puzzles into my centers and learning activities because they help to enhance problem-solving, spatial reasoning, and cognitive skills. All of these are important aspects when it comes to writing.

My students enjoy working on puzzles, sorting, and matching games during center time, free choice, and through the use of morning work bins. Whenever you choose to use them, they are sure to keep your students excited about building their prewriting skills.

Are Your Ready?

If you work preschool or kindergarten aged kids then I hope you will find one or more of these activities to include in their day. All of these prewriting activities will make the task of learning to write so much easier on them. And the best thing about all of these activities is that kids love them. While we are thinking about the skills they are learning, kids are just enjoying

Here’s a free scissor skills pack you can use to get started with.

Getting your kiddos ready for writing can be lots of fun. I hope these ideas help!

Save for Later

Make sure you save this post on your favorite Pinterest board ensuring you can come back to these activities!

In order to prepare students for writing, it is essential to include effective prewriting activities in our preschool and kindergarten classrooms. Activities like tracing worksheets, cutting skills and play dough mats all help prepare students for holding a pencil and writing with their growing fine motor skills.

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