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Click here to find out how you can develop your child's pre-writing skills at home!

Wow! What a busy half-term we have had – it’s been brilliant! The children have all done a fantastic job of settling in to life in Reception, making happy friendships and already learning so much. Thank you for all your support.


This half-term all of the Reception classes have been busy developing pre-writing skills in order to prepare all children for not only writing letter sounds, but to also form the letters with control and the correct formation.   We have drawn lines (horizontal and vertical), crosses (+ and x), circles, squares, triangles and diagonal lines (/ and \) as well as zig-zag patterns.   Having reached the end of the half-term we have now identified key areas for development that will be a focus in each class when we return after the holiday.  We thought that you may like to know what these are so that if you are looking for ways to further support your child you have a great starting point.


Next half term we will be focusing on…



Circle shapes are used in so many letters and are an important part of writing patterns. Many children learn to form circles early in their stages of writing, however we are now looking at making sure these are formed correctly…from the top, going left and round to the right, meeting seamlessly at the top again.   Children often go to the right, start at the bottom and/or don’t meet back at the top. Some circles look like jelly and need a smooth curved line.


Horizontal lines!

Horizontal lines are often easily written, children just need to remember to go from left to right – just like they do when reading and writing.  The better control and fine motor skills the straighter, less shaky and more precise the line should be.


Vertical lines!

Vertical lines are one of the first means of mark making but as we get into writing our letter shapes we ensure that they go from top to bottom and get them as straight as possible.


Diagonal lines and Zig-Zags!

Many children need a lot of practise forming diagonal lines accurately. It is not a natural movement and requires more thought and control using their more sophisticated fine motor skills. They need to remember where to start - '/' (from the bottom, up to the top) and '\' (from the top, down to the bottom).



If you would like to support your child with practising these pre-writing shapes at home we have a few fun, interactive suggestions of how you might like to do this... your child won't even realise that they are learning!


Getting handy with a paintbrush…

  • Using a paintbrush your child can dip it in water and make the pre-writing shapes on walls, pavements and patios outdoors, or even in the bath.


Finger painting…

  • Draw the pre-writing shapes that you are focusing on and ask your child to finger paint over the pre-writing shape ensuring they start in the right place and move in the correct direction.


Tickling the senses…

  • Have a tray of sand, flour, gloop, cornflour, washing up liquid, beans, oats, custard, shaving foam or any other thicker liquid which is safe for children to use. In the tray with their index finger have a go at making the pre-writing shapes remembering to talk through how to form each one (for example - start at the top, curve around etc.)


Getting sticky…

  • Using glitter glue or something similar in a squeezy tube or container with a nozzle, get your child to squeeze out the glue onto pre-drawn lines or shapes, again ensuring they follow the correct formation. This activity also builds up muscle strength.


Sticker up!

  • Using stickers to stick along the pre-writing shapes you have pre-drawn or printed out. This helps them to remember the correct formation of where to start.


Tiddly om Pom Pom…

  • Using child-safe tweezers to place pompoms over pre-writing shapes. This helps not only to remember where to start, but also builds up fine motor strength aiding control and precision.


Pipe down…

  • Using pipe cleaners for children to make the pre-writing shapes. This helps children to visualise the shapes.


Rainbow rice…

  • Place coloured or patterned paper/card in a tray (preferred to help contain the mess!) or on a flat surface. Put rice, cornmeal, sand or oats over the coloured paper. Your child then has to use their fingers to draw the pre-writing shapes but as they do so they get the reward of seeing the pattern or colours underneath.


Bath crayon graffiti…

  • If you already have some bath crayons then use these to make the pre-writing shapes in the bath.



  • Get your child to make sausages with the playdough. They then have to form the pre-writing shapes with their sausages.  Using playdough is a great way of developing fine motor skills and hand strength too!



  • Tracing over handwriting patterns, pre-writing shapes drawn in yellow pen and chalking over patterns outdoors are all great ways to embed these skills. You can find many of these online ready to print if you would prefer.


Squirty bottles…

  • Save your old ketchup or sauce squeezy bottles, fill them up with water and go outside to squirt the water against a wall making the pre-writing shapes.


Magical style…

  • With a magicians wand or gymnastic ribbon wand you can make the pre-writing shapes in the air…get creative and even add some music to it!


Don’t forget that with every activity done that an adult needs to accompany them to ensure the correct movement – many of our children in Reception form these shapes clearly and look good, but they are not always formed using the correct formation!


We have always found that the trick is to make it multi-sensory, fun and interactive. You don’t always need to be sat at a desk to master these pre-writing shapes. Ultimately, we are looking for children to be able to do this on paper with their pencil but start big and get smaller.


We hope these ideas help and that you have lots of fun together!


Even if your child is able to form their letters, please take time to ensure that they are using the correct formation. Many children record letters backwards or go around the circle of a letter the wrong way.  If they are forming with precision then that is great news! Your child's next step is to place each letter accurately on the line.


Any questions, please do not hesitate to ask.

Have fun!

The Reception Team