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Pre-Printing Strategies

General Principles

  • Keep the session short, 5 to 10 minutes, and make sure the child leaves with a sense of success. Try to be consistent. 
  • Drawing is easiest when sitting at a table and chair but it can also be done standing with the paper taped to the wall, at a blackboard or lying on their stomach on the floor. 
  • Remember that children generally learn to draw by: 
    • first watching and imitating what you do with your hand while you draw the shape 
    • then they will copy it from the picture on the page 
    • next they should be able to make it independently when asked 
  • There are lots of activities that work on the skills you need to draw (e.g. connect the dots, mazes, puzzles, I spy, Where’s Waldo, peg boards, Lego, stencils, tracing, video games).

Multi-Sensory Pre-Printing Practice

Make the sessions fun and use lots of sensory input to help your child learn better!

  • cornmeal or flour on a cookie tray 
  • sand or rice on a cookie tray 
  • pudding on a mirror on the wall or cookie sheet on a table
  • finger paint
  • use vibrating pens 
  • use smelly markers 
  • place sandpaper under the page 
  • practice on chalkboard
  • practice on a slate using wet-dry-try approach, first you make the shape, then the student traces over it with a wet sponge (which leaves an outline), then use a dry sponge to trace over and then draw the shape with chalk 
  • draw the shapes on their back and have them point to it on a page with different shapes 
  • use wikki stix (available at Mastermind) to bend/manipulate to make shapes 
  • outline pictures with dry glue so they feel the bump and know where to stop colouring

Typical Progression for Pre-Printing

  • vertical line, horizontal line, circle, cross, diagonal in both directions ( / and \ ), square, X, triangle 
  • after they can draw simple shapes they can start to be put together into figures (e.g. line with circle on top makes a flower) 
  • when the child can make all of these shapes they are ready to start printing

Kristen Easterbrook MSc. OT. Reg. (Ont.) ~ VHA Rehab Solutions A division of VHA Home HealthCare