Your little learner will love practicing their fine motor skills with these free printable Christmas prewriting cards. Use them as a print and play no-prep activity or laminate them for repeated use!
These prewriting practice tracing pages will help your child develop their fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. They feature a specific set of prewriting shapes that help your child practice stokes that are used in letter formation. They also help reinforce left to right as your child traces from the Christmas image on the left to the present on the right.
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It’s easy to make these prewriting practice cards reusable by laminating the pages or placing them in page protectors for use with a dry erase marker or wax crayon. We frequently use secure page protectors with a flap to keep the page inside.
It’s also easy to cut the laminated pages into strips that you slip onto a binder ring for a go-bag activity. We use these binder rings because they actually stay shut instead of popping open constantly.
- PLASTIC LOOSE -LEAF RINGS -use high grade plastic to make flexible loose leaf rings with bright colors
- EASY STORAGE -multi colored binderrings packed in a durable plastic box easily for office and home storage
- MULTICOLORED -there are 100pcs of plastic loose -leaf rings in 5 different colors
This time, I opted not to laminate the pages so we could use them with a preschool-friendly pencil. My daughter needs practice holding a pencil correctly and experiencing the variation in line darkness caused by using varying pressure.
What are prewriting skills?
Prewriting skills are all skills that must be learned before your child can write fluently.
Prewriting skills help your child hold and use a pencil correctly and comfortably, but they also include drawing, coloring, and copying the specific prewriting shapes. These prewriting shapes teach the basic building blocks of letters.
Prewriting skills include both:
- Fine motor and manual dexterity skills and…
- Specific letter formation shapes: | — O + / \ X Δ and a square. (source)
These printable prewriting cards help your child practice the specific letter formation shapes needed to write letters confidently and accurately.
Your child won’t know how to hold a pencil correctly at first, no matter how many times you demonstrate. This is okay and totally normal. Do demonstrate the correct grasp and make sure to model it, yourself, whenever possible, but don’t stress if your child doesn’t use it yet. It takes years for correct pencil grasp to develop. Just keep modeling the correct grasp and providing plenty of opportunities to practice.
You can also try using a pencil, instead of a marker, as mentioned above. Markers write similarly no matter the angle or pressure used. Pens and pencils need more control and finesse. We use shorter, thicker pencils that are more manageable for preschoolers. Readers have asked about using golf pencils. They are short, but they are skinny and difficult for young children to grasp. A thick carpenters pencil from a store like Home Depot or Lowes is a better bet if you can’t find preschool pencils.
- Cute Pencil Set for Children - Pre-sharpened number 2 pencils for writing and drawing; Easy to hold for small hands, perfect for kindergarteners and...
- Jumbo Barrel - Thicker than regular number 2 pencils; Graphite core creates thick, dark lines; Each pencil is 4'' long to help your child gain better...
- Complete School Set - Two sets with 5 wood pencils each; Ready to use in kindergarten or preschool; Pencils come presharpened for immediate use
Instead of throwing the page out after your child traces it once with a pen or pencil, allow them to trace multiple times with their finger, a pencil, or pen. My daughter will happily trace the same line many times.
How do I teach my child prewriting skills?
There are many play-based ways to build and reinforce both fine motor and prewriting skills:
- Practicing the specific pre-writing shapes
- Threading and lacing
- Playing with play-dough (download these alphabet play-dough mats for a recipe you can make at home)
- Using scissors
- Playing with blocks
- Using fine motor trays to write in cornmeal, sand, etc.
- Tearing paper
- Using stickers
- Using tongs and large tweezers with manipulatives (bamboo toast tongs are perfect)
- Drawing and coloring
- And more!
These Christmas themed prewriting practice cards are a fun, easy way to help your child practice prewriting skills. They’re perfect for homeschool preschool parents, classroom literacy centers and fine motor centers, and therapists.
Each card has an arrow in the bottom left corner pointing the correct way to trace. Encourage left to right tracing to build your child’s writing and reading skills. You can also remind them to “trace to the present” because there’s a different Christmas gift on the right-hand side of each tracing card.
How to print and use prewriting cards
This set has three pages with four tracing paths each. Each “path” is comprised of a row of a specific prewriting shape. The cards feature cute Christmas clip art on the left and presents on the right.
- Free prewriting card printables. Download information is located lower in the post. Look for the row of purple arrows.
- Paper and a printer.
- I recommend 32 lb bright white paper. It’s brighter for better looking clipart and thicker for more durable prewriting cards.
- Laminator, dry erase pockets, or page protectors. Optional.
- Scissors or paper cutter, if you want to make tracing strips.
- Binder rings, optional for an easy go-bag activity or keeping your classroom centers organized.
- Crayons, pencils, markers, etc. for tracing
- Pencils and crayons are great for single use pages. We like Honeyscticks beeswax crayons because the colors are easy to see and they’re pure beeswax with food grade colorants.
- Instead of a dry erase marker, try Stabilo Woody wax crayons. They’re a wax crayon that can work as a dry erase, too! They come off easily when wiped with a lightly damp cloth or paper towel.
- A preschool pencil is easier for little hands to hold than an adult pencil.
- Your child can also just use their finger for tracing.
How to use prewriting cards
Get your download from lower down in the post.
Print the pages you want to use. The shapes build in difficulty. The first page is the easiest, the third page is the most challenging. (I’m sorry the photo below is so dark/poor quality. My daughter was super excited to use these and was looming over the pages/blocking the light as I tried to take pictures.)
Laminate the pages, if you’re laminating. Cut after laminating to save yourself time. (If you cut first, you have to cut everything out again after laminating.) I did not laminate this time, by my daughter’s request so she could use her pencils.
Cut the cards apart using a paper trimmer or paper cutter.
Show your child how to use the cards. You can start by tracing from left to right with your index finger, or you can go straight to using a marker/crayon.
Try (if you can – it’s a challenge!) to simply show how to trace the shapes without describing what you’re doing. In the Montessori philosophy, the adults demonstrates silently instead of narrating the process. This allows your child to focus on what you’re doing instead of trying to process your words and actions at the same time.
My daughter wanted to use her pencils instead of her crayons or markers. We’re using these pencils designed for younger children.
- Cute Pencil Set for Children - Large pre-sharpened pencils for writing and drawing; Easy to hold and perfect for beginning writers with small hands; 2...
- Jumbo Barrel - Medium point and 2B graphite core creates thick, dark lines; Each pencil is 4.7'' long and 0.5'' in diameter and weighs 5 oz to help...
- Complete School Set - Ready to use in kindergarten or preschool; Pencils include bulky erasers and come pre-sharpened for immediate use; Pack includes...
You can also make play dough “snakes” and use them to form the tracing shapes. Get a recipe for homemade play dough that stays soft in this post with alphabet play dough mats.
Free printable Christmas theme tracing cards download area
Like all free preschool printables on The Artisan Life, these are licensed for personal and single classroom use. You are welcome to use them with Scouts groups, home school co-ops, personal therapy clients, etc as long as you are personally organizing the activity and not charging specifically to participate.
You are not licensed to redistribute the files or printouts to others for their personal use. You are not licensed to sell the printables or printed pages anywhere (online or in person) or extract the images. Instead, please send your friends and coworkers to this page so they can download their own copies.
I hope your little learner enjoys these tracing cards as much as mine does! Make sure to grab these educational free printables for preschoolers while you’re here on The Artisan Life: