How to Work on Prewriting Skills Without Picking Up a Pencil!

Is your child hesitant to engage in coloring or pre-writing activities at home? Are you worried about their fine motor or grasp development?

There are many ways to work on developing you child’s prewriting skill and grasp, other than using traditional paper and crayons. Keep in mind that they are working on these skills throughout their day at school. Most often forcing your child to practice these skills before they are ready and/or motivated to do it will only lead to more resistance. Instead, try these alternative play ideas that will be not only helpful to their fine motor and grasp development, but they are fun!

  • Use funny foam on bathtub walls and practice “writing”
  • Use an 81/2″ x 11″ sheet of paper to draw simple shapes (triangle, square, circle, diamond), forms or uppercase letters, then have your child “trace” those forms by poking small holes along the lines using a toothpick.
  • Fill a large Ziploc bag with colored hair gel. Seal with duck tape and use this as fun, squish writing pad, using their finger as the writing tool

gel writing

  • Fill a shallow baking dish with salt, colored sand or flour and practice letter and line strokes with index finger
  • Use lacing cards
  • String beads or Cheerios onto a pipe cleaner

beads onto pipe cleaner

• Practice forming letters using Playdough or clay

writing letters in playdoh

  • Practice “drawing” simple line strokes, shapes or letters into playdough using a small sized golf pencil

Have fun and don’t stress!  These activities are intended to be a fun way for you to engage with your child while helping to support their developing skills.


IPads for Speech and Language

IPads can be a very motivating way to work on some communication skills with your preschooler.  If you have access to an IPad at home, these are just a few suggestions for apps you might try:

  • My Playhome: can be used for expressive language by having your child talk about/answer questions about/describe what is happening in the picture or can be used for following directions by asking your child to do specific things within the scene


  • Fun with Directions-Lite: a motivating format to follow various directions such as “touch an animal you can ride” or “give the girl something to sleep on”


  • offers a variety of apps that target specific concepts such as:

            * Actions

            * What Doesn’t Belong

            * What Goes Together

            * Animals

            * Class (i.e.Which one is a kitchen item)

           * Nouns (i.e. show me the lettuce)