One of the most exciting milestones that parents can observe in their preschoolers is that they start to make meaningful shapes and pictures with crayons and markers.
Pre-writing is a valuable part of their growth, as it demonstrates that their fine and gross motor skills are developing well, paving the way for them to start forming letters and numbers.
What are pre-writing activities?
All letters and numbers are made up of a series of lines, dots, circles and strokes. Before preschoolers can ever learn to write, they practice making these lines and shapes, moving their hands and fingers, and learning to manipulate a writing tool.
Many parents may be unsure as to how to encourage this development, but helping your child with pre-writing can be much more fun than just stocking the house with paper and writing materials.
Here are some great open-ended pre-writing activities that can help your child build strength, stability, coordination and dexterity – which are natural skills that they will need to write in the future.
Drawing on boxes
Boxes are wonderful as a pre-writing surface as it requires children to approach each side of the box from a different angle, giving their little hands a mini workout. Research finds that drawing on vertical surfaces, for example, supports shoulder and elbow stability, coordination and hand-eye coordination. With medium-sized boxes, children can even sit inside to draw and view the world from a different place.
Crayons, markers and paint (especially finger paints!) are perfect to decorate cardboard boxes with. Stickers are also perfect for pre-writing activities – learning how to peel a sticker off a paper sheet and placing it on a surface is an exercise of fine motor skills.
Tip: Cardboard boxes can be flattened for easy storage, or to use as a safe backing to protect your floor or table during your child’s next painting project.
Stamping and printing
Many parents will remember potato printing from school days of yore – cutting out shapes from a potato half, dipping them in paint and printing.
Using different objects is a great way not just to exercise fine motor skills but also to help them discover how different items will make different shapes and marks. Just like using household items or objects from nature: apples, a plastic fork, bubble wrap, leaves, old toothbrushes, or even a scrunched-up rag.
Tip: Use cookie cutters to help cut out the fruit shapes. In fact, cookie cutters are also suitable for dipping into paint and printing with!
There is a good reason why playdough is such a popular activity with small children. They learn to manipulate the dough by stretching, squashing, rolling and kneading, perfect for developing finger strength and dexterity.
Many parents like to make their own playdough or cloud dough. There is no need to spend on pricey specialised clay tools either. Children will enjoy using disposable utensils and cardboard tubes wrapped in plastic wrap with playdough!
Tip: Extend the playdough experience by incorporating loose parts such as googly eyes, leaves, twigs, and bottle caps. Rubber stamps or wooden letters and numbers are also fun to push into the dough to make impressions.
Sensory activities are popular to do at home as they are largely affordable and easy to set up. Use a large baking or serving tray (Daiso has a wide, inexpensive variety) and pour in a layer of whatever you have on hand: salt, sand, oats, rice, or green beans. Children can then trace shapes, lines and squiggles into the layer with fingers or with disposable chopsticks.
Wet substances can also be used – cheap hair conditioner, shaving foam, or oobleck (cornflour mixed with water).
Tip: Stir a container of salt with coloured chalk to make salt in different shades. Children can draw lines through the different colours and experiment with mixing them together! For wet options, food colouring works – but remember that this may stain clothes and hands.
Pre-writing activities in preschool
The best playgroups and preschools in Singapore have plenty of space and capacity for pre-writing activities that will engage and entertain your children.
Most Kiddiwinkie Schoolhouse centres incorporate water and sand play into the curriculum, both of which help with gross and fine motor skills development. Playtinkers, a problem-based learning activity, also makes use of loose parts play.
Looking for a playgroup in Singapore for your child?
Find out more about our curriculum at Kiddiwinkie Schoolhouse, and book a tour at your preferred centre to see how our children are encouraged to explore, discover and showcase their creativity and imagination.
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