Writing Revolution! Texture Activities Help Preschoolers Learn Their Letters

Photo by David Hume Kennerly
Photo by David Hume Kennerly

By Rachel Ward

Practice makes perfect, so goes the old adage. But here’s the thing: Different brains learn in different ways, which means different kids need to practice in different ways, too. 

Those differences become most evident to adults around preschool-age, when children begin to try their hand at skills like writing letters. Up to this point, all that scribbling and fingerpainting have been helping them develop the fine-motor skills they need to write, but that doesn’t mean that all children will take to writing right at age four. 

True, some children seem to get it right off the bat, picking up a pencil and adroitly creating the ABCs with nary a backward “E.” Others may be more interested in…well, doing anything BUT writing. 

And that’s okay! “Children have different ways of learning, which is why a one-size-fits-all method of teaching isn’t the best idea,” says Meg Davis from KinderCare’s Education team. 

With nearly 50 years of experience in teaching kids to write, we know all the tricks needed to help all kids learn. And sometimes that means adding a unique element (or two or three) into the writing mix. 

Texture Activities for Preschoolers (like Sensory Writing) Cement Learning in Place

By placing paper over textured materials like rough sandpaper or bumpy cardboard, writing suddenly takes on a whole new dimension for preschoolers—and even reluctant writers love it. Kids love seeing and feeling the textures each object produces—and for some, learning with textures makes letters stick more firmly in their minds.

“Some children are by nature sensory learners,” says Davis. “That means they learn more easily and quickly when an activity involves something sensory—like writing over different textures.”

Want to help your preschooler practice writing at home? Try these ideas. (Best of all, you don’t even have to call it writing or practice.)

Beyond the Pencil: 4 Fun Ways Your Preschooler Can Write with Textures at Home

Photo by Suzanne Clements / Stocksy / 295172
Photo by Suzanne Clements / Stocksy

1. Scribble in Sand

At a park or the beach? Your preschooler can use their finger or a stick to practice writing or drawing shapes in the sand. Even scribbles or doodles can help them get the hang of it. Just have fun!

2. Doodle in Bubbles

Get the bubble bath going and have your writer-in-training trace their finger through the bubbles to form letters. How do the bubbles feel on their fingers? Do the letters stay there for long?

3. Trace Letters on Fabric

Soft textures are appealing to kids! While you’re doing the laundry, keep them entertained and learning by having them “write” letters on clothes made of different fabrics, like corduroy, fleece, or wool. What does the fleece feel compared to wool?

4. Draw in Flour or Cornmeal

Here’s a messy-but-goody. If they’re in the kitchen with you while you’re prepping dinner, pour some flour, salt, or cornmeal onto a baking sheet so they can practice letter-writing in it. (Set down a tablecloth or towel for easy cleanup.)

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