Kelsey Cook

Preschool Handwriting Basics & Sensory Letter Learning Ideas

Preschool Handwriting Basics & Sensory Letter Learning Ideas

Did you know that there is a specific order in which children learn to write? In preschool, they learn the basics of holding the pen and making marks on paper. As they progress through early elementary school, their handwriting skills develop until they are able to produce neat, legible letters.

Preschool Handwriting Basics & Sensory Letter Learning Ideas

In this blog post, we will outline the different stages of handwriting development and offer tips for helping your child improve their writing skills.

kid doing Preschool Handwriting Basics

Preschoolers are notoriously fidgety, and it can be tough to get them to sit still long enough to complete a tracing activity. However, the benefits of tracing are well worth the effort. Not only does tracing help with letter formation, but it also helps preschoolers to develop a proper pencil grip.

In addition, tracing provides a sensory experience that can help preschoolers to explore different textures and shapes. With a little patience and practice, tracing can be a fun and educational activity for any preschooler. Who knows - you might even enjoy it yourself!

One of the first things that children learn when they start to write is how to hold the pen or pencil. They experiment with different grips until they find one that is comfortable for them. Some children hold the pen in a fist, while others use a finger-thumb grip. The pencil grip that is best for a child will depend on their individual abilities and preferences.

a kid doing Preschool Handwriting Basics

Some children may be able to switch between grips depending on the task they are performing, while others may need to use the same grip for all activities. Regardless of which grip a child uses, it is important that they are able to hold the pencil securely and maintain a good level of control. There is no right or wrong way to hold the pen, as long as your child is able to produce legible letters.

Moving from pencil grip to forming letters...

Once a child has developed a good pencil grip, they can begin working on forming capital and lower case letters. In preschool, this usually involves drawing simple lines and shapes. They may start with simple shapes and then gradually move onto more complex letterforms.

Preschoolers can trace letters with their fingers, use crayons, paint, or even dot markers. As they trace the letters, they should feel the shapes of the letters and say the letter names out loud.

This will help them learn the correct letter formations and associate the shapes with the correct sounds. After tracing the letters a few times, kids can start writing them on their own. They can practice writing letters in both uppercase and lowercase on paper or in a workbook.

kid doing Preschool Handwriting Basics with a paper and pen

Additionally, it is helpful to provide tracing activities so that preschoolers can see how the strokes should be made. With some practice and patience, most children will be able to develop clear and legible handwriting by the time they enter kindergarten. 

Sensory and outdoor letter learning ideas...

When your child needs a break from tracing letters on paper, there are other ways to provide plenty of opportunities for practice. You can have them dictate words to you and watch you write. Or try dumping a cup of dry rice (or corn kernels like the picture below!) on a cookie sheet and have them trace letters with their finger.

letter A written on a paper and formed in a bowl with corn

If attention spans run short or inside tracing gets messy, move the letter work to the backyard and have them trace letters in sand or shaving cream. Collecting rocks and writing letters on them with chalk is a go to for my kids, as well as tracing leaves and writing their initials and names on the leaves.

In addition to sand, shaving cream, and rice, tracing on foam board is a great option because it's sturdy and lightweight. You can also use a window sill or a glossy tile. If you're looking for a sensory tracing experience, try using sandpaper or a piece of fruit. So don't be afraid to get creative - there are plenty of places to trace letters other than on paper.

As children progress through early elementary school, their drawings will become more detailed and their letters will become neater. By third grade, most children are able to write in a straight line without veering off the page. Next up, learning to draft personal letters to friends and family!

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