Kidaptive Blog

From shapes to letters: Tracing for better writing skills

Tracing, or following a curved or straight line with one’s finger or a writing tool, is a concrete way to help preschoolers develop a variety of physical and cognitive skills that are necessary for success both in and out of school.

For example, tracing helps develop fine-motor control, hand-eye coordination, and attention control—many of the same skills used for letter writing! This week, help your child get ready to form letters by making a set of stencils that simulate the shapes found in the alphabet.


  • Cardboard
  • Scissors
  • Paper
  • Drawing utensils


1. On the cardboard, draw a variety of shapes whose edges can be combined to make the letters in the alphabet, such as rectangles, circles, and semicircles. (Letters tend to be constructed from just a few basic shapes: long lines, short lines, small arcs, and large arcs.)

2. Cut the shapes out of the cardboard so your child can use them as stencils to trace around.

3. Invite your learner to incorporate the stencils into their typical art routine, giving them a chance to explore and familiarize themselves with these new materials.

4. Encourage your child to use the paper and drawing utensils to trace around some of the shapes, and notice how they arrange them.

5. Model how different shapes can be combined to make letters, and have your child to use the shapes to create all of the letters in their name.

6. They can then use the shapes to practice with more letters!

This tracing activity lets your child practice forming the shapes that they will eventually use to form letters, too. Soon enough, your learner won’t need the stencils at all and will be able to form the letters on their own!

We would love to hear your thoughts on this activity, as well as suggestions on future topics to cover! Please leave a comment.