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Pre-Graphomotor Skills Activities for Students with Special Needs Who Need to Improve Visual Attention to Graphomotor Activities

by | Sep 16, 2020 | Fine Motor Activities, Fine Motor Ideas, Handwriting Support, Pencil/Coloring Skills, Visual Motor Drawing | 0 comments

Pre-Graphomotor Skills Activities for Students with Special Needs Who Need to Improve Visual Attention to Graphomotor Activities



I had a chat with a very sweet Mom yesterday, who has a child who is at the pre-graphomotor level.  He has some nice skills it seems, in that he can sort objects, colors, and sizes.  His problem is that he is not very interested in writing tools and paper.

Sometimes it is a challenge to think of activities that are motivating for students.   I have had several kids at The Handwriting Clinic, who really are emerging in some skills nicely, but seem to struggle developmentally with graphomotor skills.   These students might work well doing tongs activities, or manipulative, but have poor visual attention to activities on paper.  So, I thought I would write down some of my favorite activities.


3D world:  I really like to start with a 3D world.   While some of my students have difficulty with sustained attention with activities on paper, they may have more success with activities in a 3D world!   My favorite activity is to use paintbrushes.  Have the student paint objects.  

             Ex.  Paint mud (brown paint) on a truck):   A shaving cream brush works great because it has a large handle. Or any chubby paintbrush!




       Ex.   Large stamps and paint!  My favorite is from



                                                          (image from Discount School Supply)


2D world:   Once a child explores in a 3D world, try transferring skills to a 2D world on paper.


This is one of my favorite activities:   Use black construction paper as the background. Then cut out lines, circle outlines, shape outlines, etc with yellow construction paper.  Glue onto the paper.  The student should trace the lines with a paintbrush, or marker.





Plastic folders – You can buy plastic folders from Staples.  Cut out lines or shapes with an Exacto knife.  Tape 2 sides of the folder shut.  Put a stack of paper inside for repeated use.

Student will use a marker to trace inside the lines.



Sponge Stick Activities – SO many ideas with a sponge stick!

UntitledImage   Sponge stick from


        Bear –   Cut out a template to put over construction paper.  Student will use a sponge stick to dab to paint inside.


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Cardstock template over construction paper                                                                        Student uses a sponge on a stick to dab white paint.

                                                                                                                                            Then glue construction paper cut-outs to make a bear.


Use sponge stick to stamp to match colors:   Make a template on the computer with circles or just use markers to draw circles on white paper.

Have student use the sponge stick to paint to match colors:



Here is a coloring circle file that is perfect, that I sell in The Fine Motor Store:    I really like  the                            

visual motor activity of scanning and painting the dogs.  



Here are alphabet and number paths to punch, bingo paint, sponge paint, use tongs and blocks, or color!   Sometimes students need more linear activities, such as counting.

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Trace paths:  In The Fine Motor Store, look for Scissors Skills Activities – they are for cutting paths.  However, they are PERFECT for tracing along a wide path!

Here is one them of MANY in the store:

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Here is a more complicated file, but I love the visual of tracing down the road!  (Again, this is a scissors file, but perfect for tracing along a path!)

Here is the file:


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Coloring over sandpaper (coarse) or craft plastic:  the bumpier the better!



Color thick lines around coloring sheets so that the student will match the color.  Place sheet over coarse sandpaper.  Fun!


                                                  UntitledImage   UntitledImage


These are crayon rocks!   The coloring sheet is placed over craft plastic (the orange in the background. It makes little squares as a child colors.  Most of all, it is bumpy and makes a sound as they color.  You might need to use a simpler coloring sheet.   Mesh knitting plastic can be purchased at craft stores.

Punch dots:

Often punching activities are much easier than using a pencil or writing tool!  You can have students punch out along dots or along letters.  I find that students with autism like the linear activities of punching out the alphabet or numbers.  You can use a golf tee, but my favorite is a corn cob holder with one prong cut off!   I almost always put a TIP grip on them.  Often a Jumbo TIP grip. A TIP grip is “The Pencil Grip” (jumbo or regular sized) from The Pencil Grip Company.  I cut them in half, throw away the triangular part, and have students hold beneath the gripper.  This maintains the thumb web space and allows students to hold pencils, markers, paintbrushes, or in this case, the golf tee or corn cob holder.

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This student is punching along a path of numbers or letters. 








Here is a file of large letters to trace with sponge paint, markers, etc – made just for pre-graphomotor skills:


The file includes upper and lower case letters.   Trace it, Q-tip it, Play-doh it, sponge paint it, punch it with a puncher, or decorate it!


Here is a very simple handwriting activity – modified once students are ready to trace and copy letters, but need something with very simple visual motor cues:












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Jan McCleskey

Jan McCleskey

Occupational Therapist

I am Jan McCleskey creator of the Fine Motor Store and owner of The Handwriting Clinic

(Click Picture for More Info)


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