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Fine Motor and Pencil Control

Pre Writing Shapes

Children who can form these shapes find beginning to copy and correctly form letters with much more ease.

Practise them in any way your child wants to - chalk or paintbrush and water on the patio, paint, shaving foam spread on a flat (non-permeable!) surface, a thin layer of sand/flour/rice on a tray, paint, crayon or pens.

Start by practising large top to bottom, circular or diagonal movements coming from the shoulder (we enjoy Squiggle While You Wiggle if you want to look it up) then take that movement and translate it into drawn shapes.

We practise these shapes regularly in Nursery.

As with everything we learn in Nursery, practise little and often is most effective.

Letter Formation

Please make sure your child can confidently form the pre writing shapes above before beginning to form letters.  If you do want to begin letter formation practise then each letter MUST be formed correctly.


Squeezing, rolling, and pulling playdough is excellent for strengthening hand muscles.

Our Favourite Playdough Recipe

Put one cup of plain flour, half a cup of salt, and two tablespoons of cream of tartar into a bowl and mix. 

Add a large tablespoon of vegetable oil and food colour of your choice.

Add one cup of boiling water then mix and knead and knead and knead some more...

Wrap in clingfilm once cooled.

Pencil Control Sheets

You don't have to print these sheets off if you'd prefer not to. You could copy the shapes onto paper in yellow broad tip pen and ask your child to follow the lines using different colours. Or draw them in chalk on a hard surface outside and ask your child to trace over them using water on a paintbrush.


If you have a threading activity at home then challenge your child to practise regularly.  Or you could try threading cheerios onto a piece of spaghetti held vertically in a piece of playdough or blu tac!

Who can make the tallest tower in one minute? How many cheerios do you need to reach the top of the spaghetti? Who has built the tallest tower? Model estimating - using smaller pieces of spaghetti ask how many cheerios will be needed to make each of these towers?


If you have clothes pegs then find a piece of cardboard and challenge your child to see how many spring loaded pegs they can attach to it.  Good for developing hand eye coordination and the squeezing motion is great for strengthening hand muscles.

Scissor Skills

Spend a few minutes as often as you can practising holding scissors correctly, snipping, following straight and wavy lines, then progressing to cutting out simple shapes.

Other Fine Motor Activities

Any activity that encourages your child to develop hand eye coordination using small and definite movements.  Using construction toys like duplo or lego, jigsaws, building blocks, collecting small stones and leaves to create a picture...