It can be hard to see how you might introduce your baby or toddler to writing. The fine motor skills required are well beyond their grasp (pun intended)! However, the underlying knowledge behind writing is about knowing shapes. Letters are made of mountains, bumps, and lines. So are shapes!
Repeated exposure to new material will reinforce any concept. Some easy activities that will put your baby on the path to writing might include:
- Add a shapes book to your reading rotation, or pick out shapes in a book you already read. Identify the shape, name it, and trace it with baby’s finger. “Look at the sun! The sun is a circle. Let’s make a circle.”
- Play with a shape sorter together. Depending on your baby’s age, it will be a while before he can put the shapes in the right places, but you can look at the blocks, stack them, and otherwise use them as toys before he’s ready to do it “right.” While you touch and play with them, you can name and trace the shape to give him a name to go with the concept, and even though he won’t be sorting them yet, you can show him how. Lots of shape sorters have advanced shapes (parallelograms and hearts), but it can’t hurt to introduce the words now. Shape sorters are also great for working on colors!
- Do a simple puzzle. Plain old shape matching puzzles are good, but puzzles with pieces that look like animals, cars, etc. are also based on shapes (mountains, bumps, and lines). Being able to (mentally and physically) manipulate the shape in her hand to match the space on the puzzle is the same idea behind identifying letters - think about how a d and p or b and q are simply rotated versions of one another.
You’ll want to start with puzzles that have one-to-one matching (only one piece can fit into only one space) rather than anything more complicated, but you can move on to simple picture puzzles as they get older. Chunky pieces or knob puzzles are best for baby hands, and peg puzzles work better for toddlers after they’ve improved their fine motor skills a bit.