The first step of learning to write begins with children simply gaining control of the small muscles in their hands. We call this the building of their fine motor skills, versus gross motor skills which involve learning control and awareness of their entire body. Fine motor skill activities include any activity where children use grasping, pinching, or picking up items.
At preschool, this means that we have a blast doing all kinds of activities that the children only know of as fun, but are actually strengthening their skills!
In our youngest classroom, Mrs. Jan has one game for the children where they slide cards into a can that has a slit in the top. So in this one very simple task, students are building skills by grasping a very thin slippery card, orienting it the right way to fit in the slot, and learning cause/effect when they see that they no longer have the card once they drop it in the can. And as a bonus they enjoy it!
Art is another great avenue for building fine motor skills. Today Mrs. Carole worked on grasping and stamping skills by letting the children create art using apples. Not only did the kids make some fun process art, they learned that you don't have to just use a paintbrush or crayon to do it. Art can be created using just about anything!