Pre-Writing Activities For Toddlers

Here is a whole range of pre-writing activities that you can involve your toddler in, to help him develop his fine motor and writing skills.

By Lakshmi Naish  • 6 min read

Pre-Writing Activities For Toddlers

Has your little one lately developed a liking for scribbling on the walls or the floor with whatever he can get his hands on? Well, it’s the perfect time to involve him in some pre-writing activities so that you can channel his energy in learning to develop good handwriting skills. And, you can also protect your walls from the scribbles and scrawls, and save yourself the trouble of getting them repainted!

Good writing skills bring along a host of benefits that play a strong role in shaping the mental health of your child. Developing early writing skills can have numerous benefits as your child grows up. It leads to:

  • Better coordination between the left and right brain
  • Enhanced cognitive and learning skills
  • Improved ability to grasp subjects quickly and be creative
  • Clarity of thoughts

Importance of pre-writing activities

Does your child suffer from poor writing skills? As a worried parent, you will want to know why this happens. S Lakshmi, teacher at DAV Group of Institutions, Hyderabad, states, “I come across many parents, especially in the kindergarten sections, worried about their children's pencil grip and overall handwriting. We, in India, still do not give attention to key elements like motor strength, pincer grasp, eye-hand coordination and a host of other required activities before a child starts writing.”

It is important to involve your child in pre-writing activities as these basic skills help to build strength and dexterity in the hands. She will be able to hold and use things properly, say, a pencil to draw or a brush to paint. “Interesting exercises with everyday objects around the house ensure that the child's fingers get the firmness of grip. Also, rotatory movements help the elbow and the wrist,” reckons Mrs Vidya Sankar, Founder, Relief Foundation, Chennai.

Another important reason for your child to work on her pre-writing skills is that they lay the foundation for her to develop a legible handwriting. Underdeveloped writing skills may stress the fingers and tire them leading to poor academic performance and lower self-esteem.

Apart from helping develop good writing skills, pre-writing activities also help you spend quality time with your children and keep them away from gadgets. So, what are you waiting for? Take those gadgets away from your child and buy him a box of building blocks, colourful playdough, or a set of colouring books. As he engages in moulding the dough or balancing the blocks, his fine motor skills, which are very essential for writing, will develop. As he moves on to other tasks using a pencil or crayon, you can enjoy watching him scribble, doodle and make his first attempts at writing.

List of pre-writing activities for toddlers (1 to 3 years old)

Making shapes with playdough

Rolling the dough and making it into fine balls and other shapes are activities that not only provide your child with enjoyment but also add strength to his hands and fingers.

Sketching on vertical surfaces

It is quite normal for your toddler to get enthusiastic about drawing or scribbling on the walls in your house. Do not discourage your child from doing this as it helps develop his fine motor skills and eye-hand coordination. However, if you are worried about the walls becoming untidy, you can nail a small black or white board within his reach. You can even hang thick chart paper on the wall for your child to scribble on.

Sliding beads onto a string

This is a good exercise for your child to develop concentration and eye-hand coordination. It will improve her grasping power while also strengthening the hand muscles. (Ensure that your child doesn’t put the beads in her mouth; get large beads and/or supervise).

Using tweezers and tongs

Let your child play around, holding and moving tiny objects with tongs. Using tweezers and tongs will help in the development of his fine motor skills. It also improves precision, hand manipulation and strength of grip.

Writing in cornmeal, salt or sand

Spread any of these substances on a tray and get your child to trace on it the letters of the alphabet or some designs with her finger.

Making paper balls

Your child is going to love this fun activity! Get your child to scrunch some paper and shape it into balls. Set up a dartboard and let your child try to hit the bull’s eye with the paper balls. This throwing activity will help enhance his muscle strength.

Making cut-outs

Make an outline of your child’s favourite character. Keep the image simple. Have him cut out the image with child-friendly scissors under your supervision. Use of scissors is a great way to strengthen the hand muscles, develop a good grasp and improve eye-hand coordination.

Playing with droppers

Take a glass of water and get your child to transfer the water using a dropper to another cup. The squeezing motion is a good pre-writing activity, which helps improve fine motor skills and enhances hand strength.

Tracing using stencils

Drawing with stencils is a good writing-readiness activity for toddlers. It will help your child gain hand control in holding and using the pencil. It will also help develop the small muscles in the fingers and wrists.

Pinning clothes on clotheslines

Hang baby clothes on a clothesline and make your child pin the clothes to it. Opening and fixing clothespins gives strength and flexibility to the fingers.

Note: Exercise caution when your child is using the scissors, beads, tweezers, tongs and clothespins.

Pre-writing strokes for toddlers

Pre-Writing Activities For Toddlers

Between the ages of 2 and 3, the basic strokes which your toddler can learn to draw are a vertical line, a horizontal line and a circle. You will notice her progress from scribbling randomly in straight or circular motions between 1 and 2 years of age to being able to draw a vertical and horizontal line, and a circle by the time she is 3 years of age. Help your child to master these pre-writing strokes, so that she can develop the foundation for good handwriting skills.

So, go ahead and try out these simple pre-writing activities for your toddler. Tell us which ones your child enjoyed the most in the comment section below.

About the author:

Written by Lakshmi Naish on 1 December 2016; updated on 4 November 2020

Looking for fun ways to keep your preschooler engaged at home during the pandemic? Check out Little Learners at Home, a home learning programme specifically designed for 3 to 5 year olds by our team of experts.

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