When I was a kid, I loved to play school at home and I would have really loved to have my mom say, "Amy let's do schoolwork together today and practice writing your name." Okay, so my four year old is a very rough and tumble boy, who takes his toys apart to find out how they work after playing with them for 5 minutes and he would really rather do almost anything than color or write his name. I take that back, he has become rather good at scribbling messy "pictures" in a mini notebook that I carry around in my purse; you know for those times when we are waiting somewhere and my iPhone battery is dead. But in all seriousness, my son is 10 months shy of starting kindergarten, the grade level that I teach, where we must draw legible pictures and write our names on our papers every day. I know he'll get there, I've already seen great improvement in his name writing since he started pre-k a month ago, but a little help at home can't hurt, right?

So, I went out to our local teachers store and bought a workbook (gasp). Not just a little workbook, the "BIG workbook" of Preschool by School Zone. I know, I know, this in no way means that I condone workbook work, but let's face it kids have to learn how to read and write and practice the skills they learn so a few worksheets aren't going to hurt him and it's not like I make him sit down every afternoon and do worksheets when he could be running around outside. Plus, part of me really wanted to see what the "know all workbook creators" deem to be important for preschoolers to know. The workbook includes everything from following directions to learning letters to numbers from 0-10. And in all seriousness some of these concepts would be great for my kindergarteners.

I would be over the moon if my son knew all of these things by kindergarten. But honestly my number one focus this year is to get him to draw an organized picture rather than the scribbles that he currently calls a picture. One great way to do this, is through tracing. Tracing helps children strengthen their pencil grip and practice moving their pencils in deliberate ways. Exactly what my son needs and it's just my luck that the first 21 pages of the workbook practice just this. When we sat down to "play school" my son loved the colorful pictures and in 10 minutes had completed the first 11 tracing pages.

Tracing Worksheet

"Wow," I thought, "at this rate we are going to need another tracing workbook by tomorrow." But then I got to thinking and you don't need to buy a fancy-shmancy workbook to practice these concepts. All you need is blank white paper, stickers and markers.

Homemade Tracing Paper

Simply place a sticker at the beginning on the left side of the page and draw dashed lines in a pattern of your choice to the right side of the page (We read and write from left to right so I recommend starting there). Mark the end of the dashed line with a sticker to show the child where to stop. I color coded my stickers and lines, but you don't even have to be that fancy. The concept is the same as the workbook and you can create this page in a matter of minutes. You can make your lines more complex as your child progresses. So build those fine motor skills and trace away!