10 Activities to Get Children Ready for Prewriting Skills

The fingers, hands and shoulders require hours and hours of practicing different skills to get ready for the actual job of picking up a pencil and making marks, lines, shapes and letters on paper.  Prewriting skills include the ability to write straight lines, curved lines, zig-zags and shapes. These skills are building blocks for letter formation during handwriting tasks.  Here is a list of 10 fun activities to get children ready for prewriting skills:

  1. Play Dough – Using play dough helps strengthen the muscles in the fingers, hands and shoulders which are essential for legible handwriting.
  2. Playing in prone – By laying down on the floor on their bellies propping up on their elbows, the shoulders, arms and hands receive proprioceptive and tactile input to help children learn where their body is in space.  In addition, this position helps to strengthen the head and neck muscles.
  3. Animal Walks – Children can practice moving like different animals particularly ones where their hands are on the floor such as bear walks, seal walks and donkey kicks.
  4. Sensory Trays – Practice making marks in different sensory materials such as shaving cream, sand or flour.
  5. Lacing Activities – Lace beads onto pipe cleaners.  Try lacing shoelaces on lacing cards.  These types of activities help to fine tune the intricate fine motor skills needed for handwriting.
  6. Make shapes and letters with your body – Form the lines, shapes and letters using your body.  Check out Alphabet Movement Cards for easy visuals to get started.
  7. Move in different directions – Perform locomotor skills in straight lines, curved lines and zig zags.  Move in a circle.  This helps children develop visual spatial skills which is necessary for spacing and sizing of letters.
  8. Building blocks – Using Lego or Duplo blocks help children improve fine motor skills, muscle strength in the hands and fingers and visual spatial skills.  Brick Activities for Home and School provides patterns to create numbers, alphabet and seasonal objects using LEGO® style 2×2 and 2×4 size blocks.
  9. Fingerpaint – Let children explore making marks with their fingers.  It is easy and fun.  If the child dislikes the sensation of finger painting, offer different objects to paint with instead such as toy cars or plastic toy animal feet.
  10. Moving or placing objects along a path – The teacher can draw different lines or shapes on paper or put painter’s tape on the floor. If it is on paper, children can try putting stickers along the lines or rocks.  If is painter’s tape on the floor, children can try driving toy cars along the lines.  Draw with sidewalk chalk outdoors and children can practice riding a tricycle along the path.

When the children are ready to start with pre-writing skills here are some great resources:


Prewriting Activity Pages includes 50 black and white pictures to trace and color. This is a “just right” activity for children who are learning to write, draw and color. Each picture has dotted lines for the child to trace to practice visual motor skills. Once completed, the child can paint or color the picture. Various prewriting practice strokes are included throughout the packet such as vertical lines, horizontal lines, diagonal lines, curves, circles, squares, loops, wavy lines and more!  FIND OUT MORE.


Fading Lines and Shapes includes worksheets that gradually increase in visual motor difficulty while decreasing visual input for line and shape formation.  There are 18 worksheets for line formations ie horizontal, vertical, curves, waves, diagonals, spikes and combinations.  There are 9 worksheets for shape formations ie circle, cross, square, rectangle, X, triangle, diamond, oval and heart.  This download is great for push in therapy, therapy homework or consultation services in the classroom.  FIND OUT MORE.

Simple Lines, Shapes and Design Coloring Pages: This download is a collection of pre-writing and drawing visual motor worksheets. Practice coloring horizontal lines, vertical lines, curved lines, diagonal lines, zig zags, circles, crosses, squares, rectangles, X’s, triangles, diamonds, ovals, hearts and various combined designs. There are 40 coloring page in total. Print them full size or select print multiple pages to print half or quarter size pages. This is a great packet to encourage creativity, pre-writing strokes and coloring skills. You could use crayons, water colors or paints to complete the pictures. The dark black background helps the children to see how to stay within the shape. If mistakes are made, the errors are not as noticeable so it may help to decrease frustration in children who have difficulty coloring.  FIND OUT MORE.

Lines, Lines and More Lines

Lines, Lines and More Lines: This download is a collection of pre-writing visual motor worksheets. Practice pencil control for vertical, horizontal, diagonal and curved lines. There are 4 separate activities included: 24 task cards to practice pre-writing strokes, 5 worksheets connecting words starting with the same letter drawing different lines, 4 spin and trace the line games and 3 roll and finish the picture games.  This download is an excellent choice for: fine motor centers in the classroom, visual motor skill practice, special education classrooms and/or handwriting warm ups. FIND OUT MORE.

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