Pre-Writing Activities

Build those pre-writing skills with these fun, active, hands-on ways to practice letter formation in Pre-K.

Letter Roads

For this activity, I used mini toy cars and large foam letters from Lakeshore. Children practice letter formation by driving the cars around the letters.

letter roads

Sand Boxes

Children practice writing letters in the sand boxes. Our sand boxes were a donation from a parent who got them from a factory lab. These boxes are about 5″x5″, clear plastic Petri dishes with a lid. I prefer colored sand rather than salt because if a child has a small cut on a finger, the salt will burn. Another option for sand trays is to use plastic sandwich boxes (the kind parents use to pack children’s lunches), or recycle any kind of box you can find.

sand box letter writing

Painting a Letter

Write large letters on a sheet of paper in pencil. The children trace over the letter with tempera paint.

paint a letter

Wax Resist Letter

Write a letter in pencil. Children trace over the letter with an oil pastel (they work better than crayons), then paint over the paper with water color paint. The waxy oil pastel resists the paint, so that the name shows through. You can also use a Q-tip dipped in oil instead of the oil pastel.

wax resist letter

Clay Letters

One of my students came up with this idea during free exploration with clay, but it’s also a good idea for small group letter formation practice. She rolled out small pieces of the clay and attached the pieces together to form letters. We placed them on wax paper to dry. To save money, you can roll the used clay back into a ball and put it in a tightly sealed container to be reused again.

Clay Letters

Musical Letters

This is a fun game we play if the children are interested in writing letters. We place the chairs in a circle, and I place a letter and a different colored marker on each chair. While the music plays, children march around the circle holding a clipboard with paper or a dry erase board. When the music stops, they must find the closest chair, take the letter and marker and write that letter on their paper or dry erase board. My class’s favorite music for this activity is the Madagascar soundtrack.

musical chairs letter game

Letter Rubbings

Children clip paper on the rubbing plates with clothespins and rub over the paper with the flat side of a crayon. The letter will “magically” appear on the paper. Rubbing plates were made by writing letters on pieces of poster board and tracing over them with hot glue.

letter rubbings

Light Letters

Write a letter on a piece of construction paper (I use a half sheet). Children sit on the carpet and use a toothpick to punch holes along the lines of the letters. Turn out the lights, and hold a flashlight to the back of the letter to see the light shining through (or hold the letters up to sunlight from a window).

light letters

Shaving Cream

Children spread shaving cream on the table or on a tray and practice writing letters with their finger. To clean up, we simply rub the shaving cream on the table until it disappears.

shaving cream letter writing