Teaching Pre Writing & Handwriting

I’ll be adding to and editing this post as people ask questions and I give me sparks of, “oh ya, they probably need to know that part too.” As I create posts with handwriting activities I’ll link them here as well. This post may contain affiliate links which may generate money for the blog and keep it running.

Handwriting is such an important skill. You can work on this skill when your child is just a baby. I’m going to break this all down for you and add activities you can do with your child to work on their fine motor & hand eye coordination needed for handwriting.

Here are the developmental steps you can work on with your child to build their writing skills from baby through childhood.

Shop my suggested products for handwriting practice ages 2+

1. Scribbling (8+ months)

Depending on the child, their fine motor development and what they enjoy they enjoy. A child may start to enjoy coloring or scribbling as early as 8/9 months. Teaching your child the cause and effect of writing on paper or with chalk or even painting with fingers is the beginning. Although some think this means nothing, this is the beginning of pre writing.

Activities for Scribbling:

1. Finger Painting- You can use non toxic paint, baby food, whipped cream or shaving cream. Please keep in mind that the non toxic paint and shaving cream should be used with older children & very closely monitored. You know your child, so I’ll you be the parent about this, but I feel the need to give the disclaimer.

2. Chalk- Outside or on a chalk board, it’s a create way to build hand eye coordination and fine motor skills indoors and out. I even have made chalk paint before.

3. Chunky Crayons- Thick crayons or even the ones that look like triangles are best for little hands. The triangular ones help with grasp and finger placement while holding the crayon.

4. Brush Painting–  Easel painting it one of Izzy’s favorite things to do. If you are worried having this activity in the house, bring it outdoors or get a splash mat for the floor.

2. Drawing A Circle & Line

Letters are made of curves and lines. I would playfully practice drawing a straight line with Izzy. To start you can use them and over hand method. This is when you put your hand over the child’s hand. They need to be holding the utensil and then you help them feel the motion of creating a straight line. Another thing to work on before attempting letters is drawing circles. But there is a specific way. Your child needs to show control and stop once they get around to their starting point. If they continue to go around and around they haven’t mastered drawing a circle. Again try hand over hand for practice. This control will help them to do a half circle, or “curve” which is needed when writing letters.

Activities for Working on Lines & Circles:

1. Creating Sunshine: First model drawing a sun! Just start drawing while you and your child are coloring/drawing. The talk about, oh I made a circle. Now I’m going to put lines around for a sun. When you make a sun, you are working on the skills needed for handwriting.. a controlled curve aka 2 curves to make a circle and straight lines. Once your child shows interest or you have encouraged them to try, support them. Start hand over hand with your child. (Details are above.) Help them get the feeling for making a circle. A controlled circle means the circle stops where it started. If your child keeps going around and around, it’s not a controlled circle. You can do this with painting, coloring, chalk… anything!!!

3. Intro To Letters

When working on writing letters children first need to recognize them. Which is why I listed some ways to work on letter recognition with your child below. Once you start writing letters there are some basic things to remember. Letters are made of big and little lines and big and littler curves. When I work on writing letters with Izzy I will say these terms. Example, for letter A It’s big line down, big line down, little line across. Start with the letters in your child’s name. I started with “I” for Izzy. As she mastered “I” we moved to “Y” because it’s easier than “Z”. Then we worked on letter “Z” once “Y” was pretty well mastered.

Activities for Working on Letters:

1. Letter Recognition – Beyond the old school and boring flash cards, there are really fun ways to work on letters with your child(ren). 1a. When Izzy was coloring on paper in a restaurant or even outside with chalk I would write letters and ask her what letter it was. Early on before she mastered her letters, in lieu of asking, I would say, “I made letter B.” 1b. You can also work on letters while at the grocery store. I would point to the store name as we would walk in and say, “What letters do you see?” Early on, before she knew her letters I would say, “I see letters___.” Guys you should be doing this with your babies. Before Izzy could really say much, if you asked her to find letter D or point to letter A, she would grab the letter or point to it. 1c. Splat The Spider, Letter Recognition Game

2. Tracing Letters – Number 1 thing, start with capital letters. Also be sure that the letters are in a developmentally appropriate font. For example, the font I use for this blog, the letter “a” isn’t how we teach writing letter “a”. So just keep that in mind. Also as you child traces, be present with them until they understand the steps of each letter. Remember the whole, letters are made of curves and lines? Okay so they should only trace with you there telling them the steps. For capital letter “I” it’s big line down, little line across the top, little line across the bottom. Feel free to leave a question on this blog if you need about this. I’ll get all the directions for each letter on here ASAP. But in the meantime, ask away or send me a direct message on Instagram: @busylittleizzy. I love these chalkboards, I believe they even can do custom name boards.

4 Weeks to Read, is also a great program that works on reading and writing. For an extra 15% off your order use our code Izzy15. Izzy LOVES the program and has been reading their books! It’s a great program, that really works and has easy to follow instructions, plus videos online to help guide you if needed. We are affiliates with this program, so using our code, helps us bring in a small commission which keeps this blog running.

4. Words & Familiar Names

Work with your child on writing words that are familiar or relatable to them. You can even have them practice writing their name, “D A D”, “M O M”, a family pet’s name, or the name of a sibling. At this stage you are working on writing letters correctly and getting them motivated and excited about writing. It’s not as much about being to spell correctly every time.

5. 2-3 Words

6. Sentences

Please note, if your child is 5+ and writing is an exhausting activity for their hand, you may want to consider an evolution for OT to strengthen their hands and grasp. 

This is a live post, which means I will be continuing to add to it.

XO Eryka



15 Comments Add yours

  1. xokerry says:

    Thanks for these ideas! We are slowly working on some of these with Parker. I love that traceable chalk board.

    1. busylittleizzy says:

      Of course! Enjoy!!! Yes I love the chalk boards

  2. Kim S says:

    This is so important for my preschooler right now! I love that chalkboard… how cute is it?!

  3. These are great tips, Eryka! We’ve been working on handwriting with both kids using some of these techniques.

    1. busylittleizzy says:

      Thanks Nicole! Handwriting is a must to work on for sure☺️

    2. busylittleizzy says:

      Thanh you! It’s can be a fun thing, if you do it right

  4. Rachel says:

    These are such great tips! I’m so grateful for preschool teachers who have helped my son tremendously!

    1. busylittleizzy says:

      Thank you! Yay for teachers

  5. This is great Eryka!! I’m going to incorporate these ideas for sure!

    1. busylittleizzy says:

      Yay!! So glad to help

  6. I love those chalkboards!

    1. busylittleizzy says:

      They are so awesome, right?

  7. I wish I had practiced handwriting more with Eli before he started kinder. he was so good at other fine motor things {he’s been building regular LEGO sets since he was 3} that I wasn’t concerned. But man, did he struggle with writing the first few months of kinder.

    1. busylittleizzy says:

      It’s always nice to give them a leg up if we can right? Hope he’s doing well now

  8. cool and very unusual things, I really liked candy from the gerbera, it looks very cool

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