Pre-Writing Activities For Your 3-Year-Old

Pre-Writing Activities

Your 3-year-old is surely developing curiosity when it comes to pencil and paper. While he or she may not yet be ready to write out full words, getting started early is never a bad idea. In fact, research is finding as early as the age of two, children begin to recognize the distinction between drawing pictures and writing words.

There are several activities that can help your child get started on the road to writing. They require just a few supplies and a bit of dedicated time on a regular basis. Setting aside time to practice these activities will help your child build dexterity, along with improving the hand-eye coordination necessary to develop solid writing skills.


Play-Doh Letters

Materials Required: Play-Doh, paper, pencil

How to Practice

Ask your child to roll Play-Doh into medium sized balls. Once you have several balls formed, ask your child to choose a letter to make. Show your child a drawing of the letter and allow him or her to form the balls into the shape of the letter. If this is challenging, using your drawing, allow your child to place the balls on top of it to practice forming the letter.


Practice Cutting

Materials Required: old magazines, child-sized scissors

How to Practice

Using safety scissors, allow your child to practice cutting out pictures from old magazines. You may ask your child to identify specific categories of photos such as toys, food, letters, numbers or people. Alternatively, you may allow your child to simply practice cutting pictures of interest. This activity allows your child to develop the fine motor skills and hand strength necessary for writing.


Dot to Dot

Materials Required: paper, markers

How to Practice

Using a marker, write your child’s name on a piece of paper using a series of dots. Have your child begin at the first dot and connect each dot to form the letters. Practicing writing letters with dots is a great way to help your child continue to develop his or her hand-eye coordination and dexterity.


Letter Tracing

Materials Required: paper, marker, highlighter

How to Practice

Write your child’s name on a piece of paper using a marker. Then, let your child trace over the letters in his or her name with the highlighter. This activity will help your child develop hand-eye coordination, along with slowly building the memory required to write his or her own name. Of course, a legible rendition of his or her name will require extensive time and practice, but tracing is a wonderful way to introduce the concept!


Tally Marks to Practice Numbers

Materials Required: paper, pencil, a collection of blocks or other objects

How to Practice

This activity will allow your child to practice writing tally marks to represent numerical quantities. Simply place a small number of blocks or objects in front of your child and show him or her how to make a tally mark for each object. Then, place a new group of objects in front of your child and allow him or her to draw tally marks for each object in the group. This activity is especially useful for children who are challenged by writing numerals as it helps them to write quantities in an easily-identifiable manner.


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