Preschool Fine Motor Development Activity: Journal “Writing”

We are working on developing fine motor skills a lot around here lately. Four year-old New Kid was recently diagnosed with some fine motor delays. Even though he now receives occupational therapy services at school we are supplementing with a range of fine motor skill activities at home to strengthen those important finger muscles!

Preschool fine motor activity with a journal. Helps prepare kids for writing.

Fine Motor Skills Activity for Preschoolers

One of our activities is scribbling in a journal. While New Kid cannot yet write letters he will scribble. He likes the sense of ownership over his “writing” that keeping a journal gives him and that motivates him to keep practicing. Scribbling is also very important for developing pre-writing and pre-reading skills.

Using different types of writing implements and materials increases the variety of sensory experiences, so I like to mix things up during our journaling sessions. I include:

  • Stubby crayons with the paper removed. Using a short crayon requires a stronger pincer grasp than using a long one.
  • Colored pencils. They require more pressure than markers.
  • Markers. Ink provides a satisfying saturated color, but mix up the size: include both fat and skinny pens.
  • Oil and chalk pastels with paper removed. Pastels’ textures offer a new sensory experience.
  • Stickers. Peeling stickers off the backing takes work and feeling the sticky side adds in a bit of sensory fun.
  • Writing tools with triangular barrels. The unusual shape encourages children to use the correct pincer grasp.

Do you encourage your preschooler to write in a journal? Does he or she have a favorite type of crayon or marker? Want a fun journal to inspire your child? We have a book list of creative journals.

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  1. Jenny says

    I love the journal idea- we could each have one and have a set time to do it together while making them available for the girls to do on their own too. Carly can write letters but she doesn’t use the correct grasp- and she’s stubborn. What is the reasoning behind removing the crayon paper?

    • Mom and Kiddo says

      If you remove the paper then kids can use the crayon as a sort of “roller”. It just expands the options, plus feeling the crayon instead of the paper is a different sensory experience. His teacher also told me to have him remove the paper himself because that in itself is a good fine motor activity.

  2. says

    These are great writing activities. My oldest was diagnosed with the same thing at 4. He still has to work at the mechanics of writing. Some of his favorite activities at 4 were finding hidden objects in play dough or clay and coloring with crayon rocks. Playing on the piano really helped build hand strength too.

  3. says

    Thanks for these ideas! My four-year-old boy is a leftie, so I am not always sure how to help him position his hand across the paper. He often has his hand floating above the paper when writing. I’ll be sure to give him a variety of tools to practice writing with.

    By the way, I’m new to blogging and was wondering how you do those beautiful titles on your pictures. Do you have a certain program you use for that? So far all I’ve used is creative kit in Picasa.

    Thanks for all your fabulous work!

  4. says

    My daughter has a few notebooks that she likes to draw in or take with us when we go places. She likes to sit outside sometimes and draw what she sees. You mentioned stickers…she loves those, too! When she first started using stickers we bought the ones that were a bit puffy and raised off the paper so they were a little easier to peel off.

  5. says

    I never thought to sit down and have a journaling session with my 3 year old. I bet she would love that. Do you think it would be alright to write down (maybe on the back) what she says about her picture? Or would that defeat the purpose of the journaling?

    • Mom and Kiddo says

      I don’t think it would defeat the purpose and it would be nice to look back and see what she said later on. I think your idea of writing on the back is good, though, that way she is the sole “owner” of the page. As an alternative you could write it down in a separate place just to keep for yourself! :)

  6. says

    I have just had my daughter start journaling. I found a composition book that is blank at the top and lined at the bottom and I let her draw a picture on her own or I will give her a topic to draw about and then I write what the picture is or a story she tells me about the picture. She loves it and sometimes she wants to do 2 or 3 pages!! :) Stopping by from No Time for Flashcards link-up! :)

    • Mom and Kiddo says

      Thanks! New Kid isn’t writing letters as all and I’m trying to be relaxed about that — not always easy! :)

  7. Kristin says

    My boys LOVE peeler beads. I never would have thought to buy them, but a friend had them and my oldest (almost 5) begged for some. Even our (just) 3 year old sits and does them. It provides great bouncer grasp practice! Our AC Moore even has small sets in the $1 bins. I don’t always iron them – often they dump the beads in and start over! :)

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