Maybe because I’m into crafts that my kids also enjoy working with their hands. The beauty of it is that fine motor activities strengthen their pre-writing skills effortlessly.
One of the benefits of providing such activities in our home is that my three-year-old has mastered the tripod grip early. He can now write his nickname, letters and numbers, and shapes, and has even shown a talent for drawing. What’s interesting is that I never really taught him how to write, that is, I did not give instructions on how to properly hold a pencil with just three fingers.
It takes time, effort, and a lot of practice for little ones to be ready to write properly. It doesn’t have to be all about worksheets and tracing lines and curves, though. Here are some creative ways to develop pre-writing skills for toddlers. You can even do some of these activities with your babies or young children, with adult supervision of course!
1. Peg puzzles
Peg puzzles are a good investment as not only do these provide great fine motor exercises for little fingers, but also work on problem solving skills.
2. Building blocks
Blocks not only foster creativity, but also develop hand-eye coordination and pincer grasp.
3. Shooting marbles, Q-tips, or coins
Let your child shoot marbles in bottles, using his fingers or spoons. I’ve also tried letting my kids shoot Q-tips in their straw cups. Even placing coins in their piggy bank keeps them occupied!
Let your kids paint freely on a blank canvass. No paintbrush? No problem! Try using Q-tips, rollers, eye droppers, and even your fingers to paint, it’s fun!
5. Cutting, tearing and pasting
Learning to use scissors helped my son the most in developing his tripod grasp. I noticed that he could hold his crayon properly just after a few arts and craft sessions of cutting and pasting. Paper tearing is also a great alternative to cutting, if you think your child cannot handle scissors just yet.
6. Scooping and pouring
Sensory bins are amazing! They are lots of fun and can keep kids preoccupied for quite some time. Scooping and pouring develop fine motor skills, as well as hand-eye coordination, but the kids don’t know that. Shhh!
7. Using tweezers or clothespins
Invite him to pick up small objects, such as pompoms or cotton balls with tweezers. My son enjoyed placing them in a used quail egg carton.
Playing with clothespins can help strengthen the pincer grasp as well. We tried to make patterns with our colored clothespins on a ruler.
There are toys that you can buy for lacing, or you can just improvise. With just a single hole puncher, some cardboard, and some yarn, you can create your DIY lacing toy for hand-eye coordination.
You can organize a short craft time with your child and make patterns out of ribbons and beads. You can also improvise, like what we did with our paper straws: I cut them into little pieces and placed barbecue sticks on play dough.
Hit two birds with one stone, as you help your child develop both life and fine motor skills when he learns to zip up and zip down.
Stamps are fun. Enough said.
12. Play dough
Let your child knead, squish and roll. Definitely a fun way of strengthening those finger muscles!
13. Catching a ball
It’s also important to strengthen wrists and arms too. Playing ball does just that on top of developing hand-eye coordination.
14. Wheelbarrow and animal walks
Let your child “walk” with his hands as you hold up his legs or encourage walking on all fours, pretending to be animals. These activities will strengthen his shoulders, arms and wrists.
15. Jungle gyms and monkey bars
Jungle gyms and monkey bars also exercise wrists, arms, and shoulders. Imagine what your child is gaining just by playing at the playground!
What other activities strengthen your child’s pre-writing skills?