Array Pre-Writing Shapes Kids Activity | Montessori From The Heart

Pre-Writing Shapes Kids Activity


A DIY Pre-Writing Shapes Board is an amazing kids Activity to promote fine-motor control and dexterity in toddler and preschoolers | grab FREE Montessori Worksheet Printable.

Before a child learns to hold a pencil for the first time, they need sufficient fine motor control and hand strength to be able to attempt the pre-writing shapes, strokes, and lines. So, we need to prepare the hand to hold a pen or a pencil way before your child is able to write! The best way to do it is through simple and engaging invitations to refine motor control. Below, you will find useful information about basic pre-writing skills and shapes kids activities for children ages 2-6 years. 

What are prewriting skills?

Prewriting skills are the strokes and lines young children must master before they learn how to print the alphabet or write numerals. That is, children need to develop pre-writing skills before letter and number formation or other handwriting skills are introduced.

Pre-writing line development for kids

What are prewriting shapes for kids?

Learning to write or trace each of the lines and shapes is developed in a sequential order depending on the child’s approximate age, and the developmental sequence is as follows:

  • Vertical line: 2 yr ~ imitates, about 3 yr ~ copies/masters
  • Horizontal line: 2 yr 6 m ~ imitates, 3 yr ~ copies/masters
  • Circle shape: 3 yr ~ imitates, 3.5 yr ~ masters
  • Cross shape (Plus + sign): 3 yr 6 m ~ imitates, 4 yr ~ masters
  • Square Shape: 4 yr imitates and shortly masters
  • Right/Left Diagonal Line: 4 yr 3-6 m ~ imitates and shortly masters
  • X Shape: 4 yr 11 m ~ imitates, 5 yr ~ masters
  • Triangle: 5 yr imitates and shortly masters
The below infographic summarizes the pre-writing shapes and line development:
9 Pre-Writing Shapes Chart Montessori Early Years Fine Motor Control

A major component of pre-writing skills is learning to trace and write pre-writing shapes. These are the pencil strokes that most letters, numbers, and early drawings are comprised of. They are typically mastered in sequential order and to an age-specific level. These strokes include the following strokes: |, —, O, +, /, square, X, and Δ. Since tracing and forming proper strokes (horizontal, vertical, and diagonal) positively affects handwriting abilities, tracing lines is a prerequisite to letter formation!

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What are examples of pre-writing activities?

Trace the Line with Loose Items

DIY Tracing Pre-Writing Shapes with loose items Montessori Early Years Fine Motor Control

If you think of it, all alphabet letters and numbers are made out of lines and curves. And the very first line your little one will master at about two years of age is a vertical line, followed by a horizontal line, then slowly mastering curves in a circle, and finally, being skillful at / slanted lines.

So, in the above DIY, I drew to following lines:

  • Row 1: straight line (with seashells),
  • Row 2: curves (with tiny pom poms),
  • Row 3: straight vertical and horizontal (dyed chickpeas),
  • Row 4: slanted line represented by a zig-zag (with match sticks).

Practicing pre-writing strokes and lines with loose items also triggers tactile stimuli.

Basics of Pre-Writing Activities and Skills for Kids

Button Tracing Pre-Writing Lines and Shapes


Here is another way to practice pre-writing strokes! I used blue masking tape to make the following lines and shapes:

  • Row 1: a straight line,
  • Row 2: a curved line,
  • Row 3: a slanted line represented by a zig-zag.

Offer your child any small loose items to trace the lines and curves. We are using colorful wooden buttons.

Ocean-Themed Trace The Line

And how about adding a theme to your stroke tracing? Ocean has been one of my kids’ favorite themes and tracing with small shells, gravel, and blue pom poms adds a fun twist!

Do vary pre-writing shapes kids activities to sustain the engagement and keep the enthusiasm going!

OCEAN TRACE THE LINE Pre-Writing  Skills Shapes Kids Activity

Learning Left to Right Progresion

Also, with these Pre-Writing Shapes Kids Activities, your little one is learning left to right progression which is a very valuable skill that sometimes goes unnoticed. This skill is intuitive to adults, but not to young children. A lot has to happen in their developing brain to move objects with hands, as well as eyes from the left the right. So, we want to practice this skill because this is how we read and write.

Stages of Pre-Writing Skills

Children undergo Four stages of drawing and writing:

Stage 1: Random Scribbling (15 months to 2½ years).

Stage 2: Controlled Scribbling (2 years to 3 years). Toddlers may make repeated marks on the page—open circles, diagonal, curved, horizontal, or vertical lines. Over time, children make the transition to holding the crayon or marker between their thumb and pointer finger. [This is when we should offer activities to practice tracing with loose items.]

Stage 3: Lines and Patterns (2½ years to 3½ years). Children now understand that writing is made up of lines, curves, and repeated patterns. While they may not write actual letters, you may see components of letters in their drawings. These might include lines, dots, and curves.

Stage 4: Pictures of Objects or People (3 years to 5 years).

Stage 5: Letter and Word Practice (3 to 5 years).

Pre-Writing Skills Worksheet

Pre-Writing Skills Kids Activity Worksheet FREE PDF

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    Thanks for the nice activities. I will try it with them💖

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      Thank you for taking your time to chat! I am so glad you liked it 🙂 Anya

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