Set your preschooler up for writing success with these cute ocean animal themed prewriting cards! Use them as a print and play no-prep activity or laminate them for repeated use. Your ocean-loving child will love using them and you’ll love that they’re practicing important skills while having fun!
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.
If you have young children at home (or are an early education teacher) and are looking for low-prep ocean-themed activities, you’ve come to the right place! Here are a few of the most popular ocean theme posts on The Artisan Life for toddlers, preschoolers, and kindergarteners:
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You can make this activity reusable by laminating the pages or sliding them in page protectors for use with a dry erase marker. It’s also easy to cut the laminated pages into strips that you slip onto a binder ring for a go-bag activity that easy to wipe down after a car ride or trip to the doctor’s office. We use these binder rings because they actually stay shut and secure. They’re the best ones I’ve found.
- 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
What are prewriting skills?
Prewriting skills are all skills that must be learned before your child can write successfully.
Prewriting skills help your child hold and use a pencil correctly and comfortably. Prewriting skills are not just holding a pencil, though. They also include drawing, coloring, and copying shapes. These skills prepare your child to write legibly and confidently.
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 focus on these specific letter formation shapes needed to write letters confidently and accurately.
Your child won’t know how to hold a pencil correctly at first, even if you demonstrate. This is okay and completely normal. It takes years for correct pencil grasp to develop. They may not be even able to use accurately tracing paths particularly well the first time they try. That’s okay! They need plenty of practice.
Researchers have observed an inverse relationship between the amount of screen time a preschooler receives and their fine motor skills. In other words, the more screen time they have, the worse their fine motor skills are (source). Unfortunately, this means children today are entering school with poorly developed fine motor skills compared to children of the past.
Fortunately, it’s easy to provide your child with opportunities to build their fine motor and prewriting skills. These skills translate to more legible, confident writing, but also help your child perform important tasks like tying their own shoes, buttoning clothing, zipping, and brushing their teeth.
How do I teach my preschooler prewriting skills?
There are many play-based ways to build and reinforce fine motor and prewriting skills:
- Threading and lacing activities
- Playing with play-dough (check out these alphabet play-dough mats for a recipe you can make at home!)
- Using scissors
- Using tongs and large tweezers with manipulatives
- Drawing and coloring (grab your ocean themed dot marker coloring pages here)
- Practicing the specific pre-writing shapes
- Making crafts
- Building with blocks
- Using fine motor trays to write in cornmeal, sand, etc.
- Tearing paper
- Using stickers
- And more!
These ocean 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.
How to print and use prewriting cards
This set has three pages with four tracing paths each. The pages feature cute ocean animals and the specific prewriting practice shapes.
- Free ocean prewriting card printables. Download information is located lower in the post. Look for the purple arrows and the image that reads “click here to download.”
- Paper and a printer.
- 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 less mess at home.
- 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, grab 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. These wax crayons provide more friction than a marker (which means a greater challenge) and they don’t have fumes.
- Your child can also just use their finger for tracing.
How to use prewriting cards
Make sure to 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.
Laminate the pages, if you’re laminating. Cut after lamination to save yourself time and having to cut everything twice.
Demonstrate how to use the pages. You can start by tracing from left to right with your index finger, or you can jump straight to using a marker/crayon.
I cannot say enough good things about Stabilo Woody pencils. They work on dry erase surfaces, as a “regular” art supply, and even as a watercolor crayon. They provide more friction than a dry erase marker (so they’re better for strengthening little hands.) They don’t have fumes like a dry erase marker and don’t instantly stain clothes, tables, and walls because they are water soluble. They’re easy to wipe off with a very slightly damp cloth or towel.
Because Stabilo Woodies have a broad tip, I was afraid they’d be too bunt to use with these tracing shapes. Luckily, my daughter proved they work just fine!
- The multi-talented pencil, colouring, watercolour and wax crayon all-in-one
- Due to its small chunky shape and size it suitable for childrens hands and allows a fine grip
- High denseness and colour intensity, even on dark paper and glass - it is easy to wipe off ceramic type surfaces
If you want a new activity to keep your child’s attention, you can have your child place small manipulatives on the dotted lines instead of tracing. This is also a fun way to mix things up and keep the activity fresh. Because the shapes are relatively small, you need smaller manipulatives. These tiny colorful buttons would be a real challenge!
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 ocean 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.
I hope your little learner enjoys these tracing cards as much as mine does! Make sure to grab these additional educational free printables for preschoolers while you’re here on The Artisan Life: