22 Pre-Writing Activities for Preschoolers

Help your preschoolers build skills that will help them learn how to write and having fun while doing it!

main image preschool prewriting skills

Pre-writing activities for preschoolers not only help our youngest learners learn the shape and structure of the letters in the alphabet, but they also serve a number of other functions as well. According to education blogger Lisette, from Where Imagination Grows, pre-writing practice teaches directionality in writing, encourages fine muscle development and coordination, and also helps students process sensory information critical to the writing process.

Here are 22 super fun, easy-to-make activities that your preschoolers will love!

1. Squishy Bags

Resealable plastic bags filled with colorful slime for kids to use for writing practice

Source: Learning4kids

All you need to make these awesome sensory bags is resealable zipper storage bags, flour, water, and food coloring. Kids can use cotton swabs or their fingers to draw shapes, lines, and letters on the bag.

2. Bubble Wrap

A child tracing the letters of his name written on bubble wrap

Source: Coffee Cups and Crayons


What a great way to recycle all that leftover bubble wrap! Simply write letters on sheets of bubble wrap with a Sharpie and let kids pop their way to letter recognition.

3. Play-Doh Snakes

A letter card with yellow playdoh used to fill in the outline

Source: In My World

Kids can’t resist the sensory lure of Play-Doh! For this activity, kids can roll small balls of dough into long snakes and form letters by bending and joining the snakes together.


4. Play-Doh and Drinking Straws

Blue playdoh with the letter P scraped into it. Colorful straw segments stuck into the the outline of the letter and on the table next to it.

Source:  KidActivitiesBlog

Flatten out a medium-size piece of Play-Doh on a flat surface. Then use a sharp object to draw a letter on the flattened area. (Make sure that the letter is large enough to be easily recognizable when filled with straws.) Cut plastic straws into one-inch segments. Let kids “trace” the letters with the colorful straw segments.

5. Dot Markers

A child using a dot marker to fill in a squiggly line

Source: 3 Dinosaurs

Students use dot markers to practice the mechanics of writing and get used to the angles and curves of letters. Click on the link above to download 12 free pages of pre-writing dot marker worksheets.

6. Cotton Swabs and Paint

A child using a q-tip dipped in paint to draw a squiggly blue line

Source: Lessons Learnt Journal

This is a fun activity to help kids work on their fine motor skills and get the hang of the all-important pencil grip.

7. LEGO Blocks

Using lego blocks to create letters on letter cards

Source:  Wildflower Ramblings

Blocks! Young kids can’t get enough of building and creating with them. Put their creative energy to good work with these free printable letter cards.

8. Shaving Cream

A tray of shaving cream with the word "can" written in the middle

Source: Mess for Less

This classic activity is a great starting place for pre-writers. All you need is a tray and a can of shaving cream.

9. Glitter Glue

Strips of paper with straight and curvy lines outlined with glitter glue

Source: Growing Hands-On Kids

Pre-writing lines are important building blocks for any preschooler to master before learning letter formations. Download this glitter glue pre-writing line practice for preschoolers activity.

10. Beads

Activity card for preschoolers to use beads to trace different shaped lines

Source: Artsy Momma

Just like the one above, this activity builds fine motor skills that your young students need to begin writing. Instead of using glitter glue, though, students use inexpensive pony beads (found at any craft store) to follow the lines.

11. Sand Tray

A child using a dowel to write in a tray filled with flour

 Source: Our Little House in the Country

One of the simplest activities to put together for your students to practice pre-writing is a sand tray. Kids can use their fingers or an unsharpened pencil to practice writing. As an alternative to sand, you can fill your tray with salt, flour, cornmeal, or rice.

12. Squeeze Bottle

A child using a squeeze bottle of salt to trace words written on a card

Source:: Playdough to Plato

Fill a plastic squeeze bottle with salt or sugar and let students trace letters on cards.

13. Rainbow Tray

A rainbow colored tray of sand for children to practice writing skills on

 Source: Where Imagination Grows

This resource is so simple to make, and kids love it! Simply tape colored tissue paper in a rainbow pattern to the bottom of a clear plastic tray. Fill it with sand, and as the kids trace lines and letters, the colors below are revealed. The image above shows the tray on top of a light table, which adds another dimension of fun to the activity!

14. Masking Tape

a colorful green letter E taped on a mirror

Source: And Next Comes L

A roll of colored masking tape and a clear surface make this a fun center activity at writing time.

15. Magnet Board

The letter W taped with masking tape onto a metal board

Source: Days with Gray

Tape letters onto a magnet board and let your little ones trace them with magnets. In the example above, the teacher made the letters into roads, and the students drove their car magnets along them.

16. Lacing Cards

A preschooler laces a cord through holes in a lacing card

Source: Teaching Mama

Grasping a string between tiny fingers and threading the end through the holes in a lacing card is great fine motor practice for preschoolers. It also begins to build muscle memory for holding a pencil properly.

17. Buttons

Children placing colorful buttons on predrawn lines to practice writing skills

Source: Learning4Kids

Preschoolers will have so much fun creating patterns, swirls, squiggles, and zig-zags with colorful buttons. And they’ll be building skills while they’re at it!

18. Sticker Line Up

Child placing colorful stickers along a printed line

Source: Busy Toddler

Preschoolers need to use a pinching motion, which builds fine motor skills, to peel sticker dots off the page. Then, they use hand-eye coordination to place each sticker on the drawn line. This activity would be perfect for a writing or free time station.

19. Fingerprint Writing

 Child practicing writing letters by dipping fingertip in ink then pressing letters onto poster paper

Source: Happy Toddler Playtime

Some kids may not like to get their fingers this messy, but others will adore it! For this activity, you will need poster paper and a palette of washable ink. Draw letters, shapes, and lines on a clean piece of paper. Then, show kids how to dip their pointer finger onto the ink pad, then follow the lines dot by dot.

20. Clothespin Clipping

A child clips a clothespin onto a number line

Source: Teaching Mama

Using a clothespin takes a lot of grip strength. This image shows a student using a clothespin to choose the correct answer to a number problem, but any activity that involves clipping will help them build the fine motor skills required for writing.

21. Cutting

A child uses scissors to cut through play dough

Source: Play of the Wild

Cutting and snipping activities with scissors are excellent ways for children to practice fine motor skills and control. Give your students lots of opportunities to practice their cutting skills with paper, string, card stock, even Play-Doh!

22. Scrunching Paper

A child wads up a piece of paper

Source: Gympanzees

Scrunching paper into a ball is great for building hand strength. Let your students use computer paper, newspaper, tissue paper, or wrapping paper. Then play a game of paper ball tag!

What are your favorite pre-writing activities for preschoolers? Share in the comments below.

Plus, check out these amazing Sensory Table Activities.

22 Pre-Writing Activities for Preschoolers