Monday, August 22, 2011

Prewriting Shapes

Prewriting strokes are basic shapes that a child should be able to form BEFORE expecting them to write. letters (even their OWN name).

Here they are*:
1. Vertical line (2- years)
2. Horizontal line (2 1⁄2 years)
3. Circle (3-years)
4. Cross (3 1⁄2 -4 years)
5. Square (4-years)
6. Diagonal line "/" (4 1/2 years)
7. Diagonal line "\" (4 1/2 years)
8. An “X” (4 years- 11 months)
9. Triangle (5 years-3 months)

Diagonal strokes are the most difficult; therefore the “x” and the triangle are the last to develop.

*Benton Stearns Educational District, in Minnesota has one of the best explanations and worksheets. 
Click here ---> Prewriting Worksheet with all 9 shapes.

I am not a fan of the dotted tracing worksheets, so if using this worksheet trace over the dotted line so they are smooth fluid lines. Just like we want their handwriting  to be (some kids literally connect the dots, yikes!).

When practicing these shapes remember:
1. Always provide a visual model of the stroke. You do it 1st and please form it correctly, starting at the top. It is best that you provide a model every time, even on worksheets. So if a sheet is not that way go in with your highlighter and add more models. It should be model, child, model, child. Otherwise the child starts to copy themselves and the shapes/letters get progressively worse.
2. Practice the strokes in developmental ORDER: horizontal line ----, vertical line |, circle o, cross +, square, diagonal lines /,\ , "X", and then triangle.
3. Use various mediums. Playdough, shaving cream, sand with fingers or a stick, paint, pudding... Your child will pick up the skills quicker if it is a multi-sensory experience.

A few more basic worksheets: (I hate worksheets so these are just to give you ideas.)
Straight line worksheets: Animals
Zig Zag Line worksheets: Animals
Curvy Line worksheets: Animals
The above worksheets are from Kid Zone online. 


  1. Thank you! This is very helpful to me as a preschool teacher.

  2. Hi, Jenna! My name is Katherine Collmer and I write the Handwriting is Fun! Blog on! And I live in Scottsdale, AZ! I'd love to meet up and talk OT - or just talk - some day if you are ever free! I'd love to share ideas and learn about your OT experiences in AZ (as I've just moved here! 2014) You can send me a note on my webiste or comment here if you want to meet up! Thanks! Hope to hear from you!