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Early Writing Skills/Fine-Motor Skills: Process More Important Than Product

Updated on September 6, 2012
Use a feather instead of a paintbrush and watch creativity grow.
Use a feather instead of a paintbrush and watch creativity grow.

Don't Throw It Away! It's Not Just Scribble Scrabble!!!

As an early educator I've often witnessed parents leave behind artwork they mistake to be "scribble scrabble." Many times I step in and validate the emergent writing skills displayed in their child's work. Before any child has the ability to write actual letters or numbers he or she will practice by making "scribble scrabbles" with any medium they can find. This first step in the writing process helps to build fine-motor and coordination skills while introducing the child to the concept of making marks. Parents and educators can support emergent writing skills by creating fun opportunities for young children to freely explore different mediums. By doing this, children find joy in the process of learning how to write while building a positive outlook on education as a whole.

Emergent writing materials are all around you. Any object that can be grasped with your hand can be manipulated to develop fine-motor skills. Non-conventional art materials meet the various needs of all children, making the process of learning more diverse. By thinking outside the box you can provide a world rich in emergent writing tools not often found in traditional classroom settings. Art materials are found everywhere and can include:

  1. Painting rollers-they come in various sizes and textures.
  2. Small whisk- use foam paint to offer a different medium.
  3. Sponges- can be cut into various shapes.
  4. Spoons- can be used to dump out and smear paint.
  5. Corks-can be used just like stamps.
  6. Spray bottles with watercolors- builds coordination when spraying the bottle.
  7. Q-tips- dip ends into paint or watercolors.
  8. Toy vehicles- wheels can be covered with paint then driven across any surface.
  9. Small plastic or paper cups- can be used like stamps.
  10. Small plastic bottles- can be cleaned, filled with paint and then squeezed upon paper.

Offering textured surfaces will extend the learning process and make the activity more engaging. A textured surface can be created by placing any of these items under the paper: sandpaper, leaves, stencils, foam shapes or string. These everyday objects, when allowed to be explored freely, offer children the chance to build their fine-motor skills while stretching their creativity.

The social aspect of any activity is the most meaningful moment for any child. Simply sitting a child in front of great art materials is not as important as having someone there who is an active participant in the learning process. Sing songs, get messy, be creative and have fun.Validate the child's accomplishments by acknowledging the work you see, "I see you made a red line. I see you made one small and one long line." In this way you are extending the learning process, building upon what they know. Curvy lines, wiggly shapes and zigzags are so much more than just "scribble-scrabble."

Don't let a little glue scare you. Add food coloring and use the glue like paint. Sticky paint.
Don't let a little glue scare you. Add food coloring and use the glue like paint. Sticky paint.

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