Video: Pre-writing activities to support handwriting

Pre-handwriting activities video
Support your child's pre-handwriting development in nursery and Reception with fun activities and play, all designed to help build essential motor skills and hand muscles. Our video features experts from the National Handwriting Association, sharing practical ideas you can try at home.

Through scribbling, working at an easel and playing with playdough young children are acquiring many of the motor skills needed for handwriting in the primary years.

Experts from the National Handwriting Association explain how these activities can help your child's pre-handwriting development and how to make the most of play opportunities in preparation for patterning in Reception.

At-home activities for your pre-writing child

The key to developing your pre-school child's pre-writing skills is to make it fun - and while some children will happily spend hours tracing patterns on worksheets, others learn better in a more hands-on, play-based way. Try these pre-writing activities to help your child develop the skills they'll need once they start school. 

  • Scribbling From around 18 months old, your child will be able to grasp a crayon in their hand and make marks on a piece of paper. Their scrawl may seem far removed from writing, but even young children will make all the basic movements they'll eventually need for writing: up and down lines, zigzags and circles.
  • Easel drawing Small children typically love having a large surface to work on, and drawing on an easel is more than just fun: it also helps to develop postural stability and shoulder movement, in preparation for writing. Encourage your child to make a variety of marks: circles, dots, horizontal and vertical lines. Mix it up by letting your child paint the garden fence with water, or scribble on the bathroom tiles using bath crayons. 
  • Playdough treasure hunt Squidging playdough is a great way to get your child's muscles moving, and to help them experience sensory feedback through the fingers. You can encourage their finger muscle movement, elbow and shoulder stability and hand-eye coordination by hiding small objects, such as plastic animals, coins or beads, in playdough and asking your child to dig them out. Try a similar activity with a tub of sand or uncooked rice to help your child get used to relying on their sense of touch.