The Early Years: Fun with pre-writing
By: Deb Archer for the Lake County News-Chronicle, Lake County News Chronicle
What do shaving cream, flour, salt, paint, pudding, and whipped cream have in common? They are all great tools for teaching children pre-writing skills. Learning to write doesn’t just happen. Here are some activities parents and grandparents can do with kids to help them in this process.
Fun experiments with writing
Most toddlers and preschoolers love to get their hands in different textures. Try placing a child in a highchair or at the table, letting him or her explore and experiment with different textures such as salt, flour, whipped cream, pudding, or shaving cream. Putting the materials in a 9 X 13 pan will help contain the mess. Younger children tend to put everything in their mouths, so for them, it is advisable to use something edible like pudding, whipped cream, or applesauce.
Kids will learn about writing by scribbling and using their fingers to make different designs. While they are playing, give them some measuring spoons, cups, and plastic silverware. These tools not only make the activity more enjoyable for kids, but also strengthen their fine motor skills.
Fine motor skills development
Developing fine motor skills is important for many of a child’s future activities, including pre-writing. There are many ways to help kids strengthen these abilities. They can squeeze and roll play-dough, making it into balls, and cutting it with a plastic knife. Giving children tongs to grab toys, sponges, towels, or stuffed animals is another way to develop fine motor skills. If a child is interested in using crayons or markers, try giving him or her some simple mazes. Wipe-off mazes are available at most stores in the office supply area. Mazes encourage kids to control their movements and try to stay in the lines, a great fine motor and pre-writing skill to learn!
Parents and grandparents can also make dots on blank pieces of paper for connect-the-dots practice. This, too, helps children learn pre-writing skills. Even giving a child a sheet of stickers to place on a different piece of paper will help develop those fine motor skills by challenging his or her fingers to work on moving small things.
At preschool this week, we took out the shaving cream. After playing for a few minutes, we made a smooth surface with the shaving cream and practiced making shapes, letters, and snakes. The kids were working on pre-writing skills and never knew it. Is this a messy activity? Yes, but at home parents can follow up the shaving cream project with another fun activity, a bath! How often do kids get to take a bath in the middle of the afternoon, just to play?
Working on pre-writing skills will help children progress in their education. Try these great activities and have fun teaching your little one.