How to encourage mark making in preschoolers: Fine motor pattern tracing #31DaysOfLearning

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In 31 Days of Learning today we have a gorgeous activity from Arthurwears to help kids with their fine motor skills. Before we even think about expecting young children to write, there are a number of steps, or pre-requisites, which must come first. Young children begin their writing journey by developing their gross and fine motor skills, and ‘making marks’. Which is why we encourage mark making in preschoolers with this post!

How  to encourage mark making in prechoolers fine motor pattern tracing

The ability to mark-make starts with the physical development of the child – and so building up the muscles in their chest, shoulders, arms and hands is a really important process that young children must have the opportunity to go through before being expected to sit and write. Using large amounts of home-made playdough can help build up the strength in their hands, and tracing over patterns using their fingers and loose parts can make fine motor practise fun and exciting! Why not try out these playdough mats if you are going to have a go with playdough?

In this post, I am going to show you how to make a quick and easy fine motor pattern tracing board to help support early mark making in preschoolers. There is also a quick video demonstration available here if you would like to see this made in action.

You will need:

How  to encourage mark making in prechoolers fine motor pattern tracing
  1. Cardboard
  2. Tin foil
  3. Wikki stix (wax string)
  4. Sharpies
  5. Marker pen
  6. Scissors

How to make a fine motor pattern tracing board

First of all, draw your chosen tracing pattern onto the cardboard. I chose to use a zigzag and a looped pattern on one side, and a spiral on the other.

How  to encourage mark making in prechoolers fine motor pattern tracing

Next, lay the wax string onto the pattern and press down. No glue is needed, the wax sticks it down.

How  to encourage mark making in prechoolers fine motor pattern tracing

Once you have completed your pattern on both sides, lay your card onto a piece of tin foil – enough for both sides.

How  to encourage mark making in prechoolers fine motor pattern tracing

Fold over the tin foil, trim the edges and seal them, making sure that the entire board is covered.

How  to encourage mark making in prechoolers fine motor pattern tracing

Begin to press your fingers into the foil, smoothing it around the string pattern to create a raised surface on the foil…

fine motor skills activities

Once you have smoothed over both sides you should be able to see and feel the pattern.

fine motor skills activities

If you prefer a natural look to your resources, you could stop at this point and show your child/children how to trace their fingers over the patterns, feeling the straight lines and the curves, and encouraging them to carefully follow the string around and across.

Extend this activity by providing small beads or loose parts to make the patterns on the board whilst practising their pincer grip.

Note: Supervise your children with these smaller parts as they can be dangerous for under 3s.

Add more detail

fine motor skills activities

We used small beads for the spiral shape and miniature keys for the zig zag.

How  to encourage mark making in prechoolers fine motor pattern tracing

Depending on how large your board and pattern is, you could use loose parts such as pasta, sequins, gems or cabochons to practise forming a pattern.

If you would like to add a bit of colour to your board, or, allow your little ones to have a go at this – sharpies are your friend!

How  to encourage mark making in prechoolers fine motor pattern tracing

The ink from the sharpies stays on the foil and also creates a lovely vibrant colour!

How  to encourage mark making in prechoolers fine motor pattern tracing

It also adds another sensory element to the board by allowing the pattern to be seen easier, and not just felt! This can really help to build language around shapes, lines, patterns and colours…

How  to encourage mark making in prechoolers fine motor pattern tracing
How  to encourage mark making in prechoolers fine motor pattern tracing

I repeated this on the opposite side, creating a ‘yellow brick road’ to follow – before realising that my children will have NO idea what that even means as they have never seen the Wizard of Oz!

fine motor skills activities

All done!

This activity is really quick and simple to make, but super effective! You could use this resource alongside a flat print out of different patterns to use with loose parts, or move onto a scissor skills activity (when they are ready) by following the pattern whilst snipping!

This activity will also work with names, for name recognition, and is a brilliant one for letting your children get involved from the start! After you have drawn the patterns, why not let them have a go with this wax string themselves? It is completely re-useable, so they can take it off and move it as many times as they like whilst ‘having a go’ – it all adds to the fine motor skills of pattern making!

We hope you like this mark making in preschoolers activity – we think its wonderful, so thanks so much to Sarah for providing us with the details.

If you are looking for more activities to help with fine motor skills; do check these out too:

Fine Motor activities

Some more crafts and printables to help with fine motor skills.

We thank you for popping along to see us all today, and do sign up for our newsletter if you like this and some of the other activities we have shared with you today.

Cheers,

Helen

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