Before children can learn to write, they need to have certain fine motor skills and the ability to recognize shapes. Color and shape are ways children observe, define and categorize what they see, notes to the Scholastic.com website. Doing some pre-writing activities with shape themes can help your toddler go on to develop his writing skills.
Since you toddler is likely always moving anyway, he should thoroughly enjoy the "tape shape" pre-writing activity. Help you little one learn to recognize shapes by taping masking tape on the floor in various shapes. Make the shapes large enough so that your child can crawl, walk and jump around them. Ask your tot to name the shape as he moves toward it. As he gets better at identifying basic shapes, like squares and triangles, try taping down letters, such as those in his name.
Another pre-writing activity is "shape throwing." Cut out large cardboard shapes for this activity -- and then spread them out on the floor. When you call out a shape, your toddler should try to throw a bean bag onto that shape. In addition to shape recognition, this activity helps children with the hand-eye coordination they need for writing.
Your toddler likely loves scribbling with crayons -- and you should encourage this activity. To improve her crayon grip, tape paper to the wall or use an easel, so she can't rely on the flat surface of a table to support the crayon. To further encourage your tot to learn her shapes, cut her scribbling paper into shapes like circles and triangles. Once your tot is comfortable scribbling with crayons, show her how to make lines and circles. For toddlers who just love being outdoors, get some sidewalk chalk. Draw some shapes on the sidewalk or driveway -- and encourage your little one to scribble in the shape when you call it out.
Finger painting is always a favorite among the toddling set. But you can get creative when it comes to the "paint." Encourage your tot to "paint" with shaving cream or whipped cream on a table or in a plastic tub. Ask her what shape she's making -- and then show her how to make a specific shape. Bath paints give toddlers yet another opportunity to practice fine motor skills and develop shape recognition. You might also encourage you toddler to use her finger to draw shapes in the sandbox.
You can also help your toddler create a shapes collage. First, you'll need to cut out a bunch of shapes in various colors and sizes ahead of time. You can then help your toddler glue down the shapes to create the collage, perhaps asking him to group shapes together such as by gluing some small stars onto a large star. The gluing will help with fine motor skills and using and talking about the shapes reinforces recognition.
- National Association for the Education of Young Children: Toddlers and Reading
- National Association for the Education of Young Children: Support Writing at Home
- Portage District Library: Literacy Activities for Your Toddler
- No Time for Flash Cards: Fun Pre-Writing Activities Without Worksheets
- Center for Early Literacy Learning: Art of Writing
- Scholastic.com: Why Colors and Shapes Matter
- BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images