10 Playful Ways to Develop Handwriting without Worksheets
We all want our children to have beautiful handwriting, but did you know there are other skills our kids need before they can master letter formation? Keep reading to discover 10 playful ways to develop your child’s handwriting by focusing on fine & gross motor skills first:
Play with playdough
Playdough is one of the easiest ways to get little hands moving and to playfully strengthen the fine motor skills required for good pencil control. Even tiny toddlers can try playdough (edible dough is great for this) with no aim other than to practice prodding, poking, rolling, squishing, and using the muscles in their fingers and hands.
Bring out the small world toys
Using small figures and toys to play is another simple way to encourage your child to use their hands in a way which will strengthen their handwriting skills later down the line. As your child gets engrossed in their imaginary world, they’ll naturally use their fingers and hands to manipulate small figures and pick up tiny accessories – great for boosting fine motor skills.
Set-up sensory invitations
The messiest forms of mark making are often the most fun for our kids! Setting up invitations to make shapes, lines and letters in different textures is a lovely way to invite children to try out their mark making skills. You could use a tray of shaving foam or squirty cream and letter/number flashcards for your children to copy with their fingertips or try finger painting and watch as your child practices ‘writing’ using only their body!
Try mark making outdoors
There are lots of opportunities to practice handwriting skills outdoors without needing a pencil:
- Grab a stick and make shapes in sand or mud
- Draw on the floor or walls with chalks
- Take water and a paintbrush and mark make on a dry pavement or have your kids trace over chalk letters/numbers
- Try bark rubbings with chunky crayons
A sheet of stickers and a piece of paper can provide lots of amusement for toddlers as they perfect their pincer grip and enjoy the freedom of peeling and sticking on their own. And as your child gets older a sticker activity book is a nice way to keep them entertained and practice fine motor skills some more.
Role play writing
Before you expect your child to write at school, think about how they can get used to using pens and paper without expectations. Adding mark making opportunities to role play is one way you can do this. Put a notebook and pencil next to their play kitchen or have some pretend forms to fill out when they’re playing doctors. You can access a ready-to-print role play prescription form as a Print Play Learn member.
You really don’t have to be anywhere near a pencil to strengthen handwriting skills! Baking is the perfect example of a fun activity that will get your children strengthening the same skills they’ll need for neat handwriting. As your child mixes, rolls, kneads, or ices, they’re using their hands in beneficial ways.
When you want your child to practice their pencil grip but don’t want to pressure writing, completing a maze is a fun idea. Most kids’ magazines will have a maze or two, or you can use a ‘maze generator’ for free online.
Build, craft, and draw
When your child is being creative, the chances are they’re boosting their handwriting skills! Whether they’re carefully clicking Lego/Duplo together, using scissors or drawing funny pictures – it’s all brilliant practice.
Make writing exciting
Formal writing activities can be tiring for young children. Help establish writing as a fun activity by making it exciting! You could switch plain paper for notebooks, pretty patterned tissues, themed writing pages or whiteboards, and try using all sorts of different writing tools – chalks, glow in the dark pens, novelty pencils, vegetables dipped in paint… Use your imagination and let them experiment. The main thing is they have fun!
Which of these ideas are you most excited to help your child try? Developing their handwriting really can be fun! Access our free Playful Parenting pack for more fun learning resources.