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Gateshead Messy Play

Pre-writing practice

Blog
20/07/2020

Pre-writing skills involve any activity that can build your child’s shoulder, wrist, hand and finger muscles!

Pre-writing is not about learning to write, it’s not even about learning to hold a pen or pencil properly; pre-writing development is all about having the muscle development to be able to hold a pencil and write once the child is ready.

We can’t avoid the fact that technology is an ever growing aspect of our children’s lives, and for their generation it’s actually going to play a very important part in their lives.

I’m 37 years old, I grew up in a world with landlines, dial-up internet and the only time I saw a computer was at school! My first phone was a Nokia which contained the awesome snake game and allowed me to tell my parents what horribly late time I was going to come home from the pub!

 I still cannot believe, looking around today, how advanced technology has become and how fast it is changing the world we live in. It’s astonishing, wonderful; it allows me to talk to my family who live in the UK and New Zealand at any time of day or night without any wait.

But technology does come at a cost, our children’s motor skills development. I’m definitely not here to tell you never to give your child a tablet or a phone, I have two children, and sometimes we just want to drink a hot coffee! But we should all be mindful that a large number of children are entering Kindy without enough hand and finger strength to learn how to hold a pencil and write.

There are so many simple things you can do at home with your child to encourage them to build their fine and gross motor skills which are needed for writing as they get older, here are a few:

Gross motor skills

  • Throwing a ball
  • Watering plants with a watering can
  • Using a broom
  • Dancing – using their whole body
  • Baking – using spoons to mix ingredients

Fine motor skills

  • Using tongs to pick up toys
  • Playing with play dough
  • Painting with their fingers
  • Picking up small food items such as peas and sweet corn with their fingers
  • Building with lego/blocks
  • Threading – Pasta onto string, hoops onto a spoon etc
  • Using a spray bottle

These may seem like simple things to do but they will all contribute to your child’s development.

Play dough has to be my most favourite fine motor skill activity, it’s cheap to make, it keeps for ages in the fridge and kids of all ages love to play with it!

Here is my fail safe recipe!

  • Mix in a bowl, 2 cups of plain flour, 3 teaspoons cream of tartar and ½ cup table salt.
  • In a jug mix a few drops of food colouring, 2 tablespoons of oil and 2 cups of boiling water.
  • Add the water mixture to the flour mix and stir well till it comes together in a ball. Knead with your hands until smooth.

Simple! You can store it in the fridge for up to 2 weeks!

Things to do with your play dough:

  • Use child friendly knifes to cut it into pieces
  • Pinch small pieces off and roll into balls
  • Make a sausage shape and roll it up to make a snail
  • Use cutter if you have them, or use cups to make shapes
  • Use a rolling pin to make it flat
  • Make a large ball and using straws make an Echidna or Hedgehog!

Some children are ready to start using worksheets by the time they reach the age of 2 years old, they only need to be simple shapes and lines for them to follow and it does not matter how they are holding the pen or pencil they are using to complete them.

I have attached some of the sheets I use below for you to print and use at home.

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