Learn some of our best simple drawing ideas ideas that are perfect for “tricking” kids into practicing those prewriting shapes!
*This post contains affiliate links. Read more.
If you’re an OT who works in a preschool setting, you’re likely very familiar with prewriting skills.
You work on those vertical and horizontal lines, circles, diagonal lines, and intersecting lines all day every day…knowing that strong prewriting skills are the foundation for letter formation and early writing skills down the road.
Some kids are reluctant or resistant to participating in prewriting/drawing activities. These tasks my present a frustrating challenge because of visual motor delays, difficulty with grasping skills, or decreased hand strength. Other kids simply become bored with working on the same old black and white drawing task – copying shapes and lines over and over with no real purpose.
This is where the concept of “tricky prewriting practice” comes into play. Rather than simply asking kids to imitate or copy various lines and shapes, I like to embed the prewriting figures into fun, purposeful, playful drawing activities.
For kids who are reluctant to participate in prewriting practice, these activities can often “trick” them into creating the shapes and lines because they’re being presented in a more fun, motivating, and appealing way. Here are some of my favorite “tricky” simple drawing ideas for working on prewriting skills with kids.
Simple Drawing Ideas for Prewriting Practice
1 || Rain
Looking for a fun way to work on imitating vertical lines? Draw a rainstorm! First, make a cloud at the top of the page and then have a blast drawing vertical lines all over the page to create rain! Add a cute little umbrella like this, and you’ve got a great, purposeful activity for your next therapy session.
2 || Grass
Try making fingerprint bugs all over the page. Then use a green marker or crayon to draw vertical or horizontal lines to “hide the bugs in the grass”!
3 || Hair
This is always a kid favorite and can also double as a cutting activity. Draw a face on the paper and then kids can draw vertical or horizontal lines for straight hair or circles for curly hair! Next, give some “haircuts” by drawing lines on the page through the hair for the child to cut on.
4 || Flowers
We just did this fun activity with our preschoolers for Mother’s Day! We stuck stickers or glued pompoms onto the page in a row. Then, we made vertical lines, starting at each “flower” down the page for stems. Next, we showed the kids how to cross each line to create the leaves on the stems (intersecting line practice). Pair it up with this fun flower gross motor activity and you’ve got a great OT/PT co-treat session!
5 || Train tracks and trains
Here’s another favorite of the preschoolers I work with. So many kiddos love trains! And this one is a great way to incorporate a good variety of shapes and lines. Have kids help make two parallel horizontal lines and then several vertical lines between the horizontal lines to create a train track. Next, draw a rectangle (or have the kiddos do this part if they can!). Challenge kids to add circles for wheels, a circle for a sun in the sky, and maybe some other train cars with windows with intersecting lines on them for window panes!
6 || “Parking spaces” or “houses”
So many kids are drawn to playing with cars, toy dinosaurs, or other action figures/toys. And often, they have difficulty transitioning away from these preferred toys to engage in prewriting or drawing activities, which may be less preferred.
We love to have kids draw lines on paper to create “parking spaces” for toy cars, circles or squares can become “houses” for toy animals, and lines of various orientations (horizontal, diagonal, vertical, intersecting) can become “walls” in between toys/animals. This is a great way to get kids’ interest by embedding a preferred toy/object into a new way of playing to build on flexibility. This is awesome for kids who have really limited or rigid interests.
7 || Target Practice
Stickers, magnets, or even counting manipulatives like these and these can make great starting points and endpoints for prewriting shapes and lines and are also great for adding both visual and hands-on components to a drawing activity.
8 || Tape
If you’ve been following along with us for awhile, you know that tape is one of our all-time favorite therapy supplies. It’s awesome for using during prewriting activities because you can vary your approach to keep things interesting. Have kids draw circles (“fish”) all over the page. Then, let them “feed the fish” by tearing off small pieces of tape and placing them on the circles. Have them draw vertical or horizontal lines and then place stickers all along the line for added visual motor practice. Place longer pieces of colored tape in different orientations on the page (horizontal, vertical, diagonal, intersecting lines) and have kids trace over the thick lines with a crayon or marker.
9 || Play dough
Play dough is another great prop to help motivate kids to participate in drawing/prewriting activities. Have kids draw a requested shape or line and then roll out a piece of play dough to place on top of the shape or line to outline it. Or, have kids draw circles or other shapes all over their paper (“plates”) and roll small balls of play dough (“meatballs”) to place on each shape! Check out our other great play dough fine motor ideas!
For Virtual Sessions
All of these activities are perfect for modeling/demonstrating on-screen and having a client/student follow along on their own piece of paper. Great for preschoolers or other students who are working on prewriting skills!
Why “Tricky” Prewriting Practice?
I use assessment tools like the Beery-Buktenica Developmental Test of Visual-Motor Integration or the Wide Range Assessment of Visual Motor Abilities in order to evaluate a child’s ability to copy shapes and lines from a model.
And while I like that these tools can give me a solid score to work with, what I really love to see is how kids can actually use these prewriting skills to participate in age-appropriate, playful drawing and coloring. I think these “tricky” drawing ideas are the most functional and developmentally relevant use of these prewriting skills, which is why I love using the ideas above during my treatment sessions!
Don’t miss this great info on basic drawings for kids, including our printable tracing and drawing templates!
Looking for other great fine motor activities for toddlers and younger preschoolers? Check out our Beginner Cutting Skills for Toddlers & Young Kids!