I’m Tess, prep teacher and Melbourne mum. Your little one starting school is such a special time in your family’s life, and I am thrilled to be part of it. As a prep teacher for almost 10 years, I created these activities as stepping stones over the gap between pre-school and starting school.
The Get School-Ready Ultimate Pack is designed to build confidence and independence in your school starter. It focuses on the social, emotional and practical side of school readiness using fun, sensory activities that reflect what your child will be doing in their first year of school.
Each activity can be enjoyed endless times in multiple ways! This guide gives you suggestions for getting the most out of each activity. Remember to take cues from your child and what sparks their interest. That’s how your child will learn best.
Enjoy every moment with your little one and the countdown to big school!
My Little Fine Motor Bag
Handfuls of fine motor goodness in one little bag! Each carefully considered piece has a purpose in building strong fine motor skills in your child’s hands and fingers while developing their hand and eye coordination. Strong fine motor skills and strong muscles in their hands and fingers is essential for children learning to correctly write letters and numbers. It’s also vital for cutting, gluing, opening, closing, threading, tying and a whole lot of tasks that help your little one’s independence.
Getting the correct pencil grip from the get-go is so important as it sets your child up for success from day one. Crayon rocks have been designed to train young children to use an efficient tripod grip naturally. There are eight colours and are perfect for your child to let their imagination run wild! When your child is drawing on their notepad, you can encourage them to use all the colours of the rainbow by talking about the colour they are using for each part of their picture. For example, when they are drawing a house talk about what the colour of the roof is versus the colour of the door.
Another sensory way to strengthen those muscles on your little one’s hands and fingers is playdough! Encourage your child to roll, pinch, press, squash, twist, mould and pattern the playdough to get those muscles nice and strong. Playdough is also perfect for your little one’s imagination.
My School Readiness Cards
Help your child understand what big school is about. These practical “I can…” statements teach essential school starting skills while lifting your child’s confidence. Engaging ways to use them are:
1. Shuffle the cards and place the deck face down. Flip over a card and discuss with your little one the statement on the card. All of these cards are stepping stones to starting school so it’s a great way to open up a conversation about how your child is feeling about starting school!
2. Sort the cards into two piles – independent level and building independence. Focus on the tasks that your little learner needs to build independence with and move through the pile. Remember, it’s not about mastering each skill – your child will continue to work on these skills when they start school. It’s about building your little one’s independence and confidence!
Fun Name Tracing Pages
On the first day of school, children will find their name stuck on things like their bag rack, supplies tub and their chair. It’s very exciting for little ones to be able to recognise their name in all these places! What’s even better is when they can write their name! It’s such a wonderful and precious moment when your child writes their name for the very first time. It is their name that they will be writing for the rest of their lives!
A great place to start is using the large page and materials in the fine motor bag and follow the correct sequence to form each letter. Use the playdough to roll, pinch and create their name. The trace and write page is perfect for encouraging your child to trace and independently write their name using the whiteboard marker. As your child is working on these activities, discuss with them the name of each letter, the sounds the letter makes and words that start with that letter.
Fine Motor Practice Mats
Fine motor fun is coming your way! These cards are perfect for prewriting and assisting with strengthening your little one’s fine motor muscles. Both the line and picture sheets can be used in lots of different ways including:
- Roll and pinch the playdough so that it follows each line.
- Manipulate the pipe cleaners to recreate each line.
- Trace over the lines using their whiteboard makers.
- Place buttons, felt balls or beads on the line. You can make this more challenging by using a large pair of tweezers to pick up and put the materials in place.
My Shape Pages
Being able to identify shapes in your natural environment is crucial to understanding shape properties. Get hands on with shapes by:
- Going on a shape hunt in your house and backyard to see what shapes you can find. Use the multiple shape pages to tick off what shapes you found.
- Tracing the shape with your finger and talking about the number of sides, if they are curved or straight and how many corners are there.
The circle, rectangle, square and triangle pages include examples of these shapes in the world. Encourage your child to:
- Build each shape using the items from their fine motor bag or with playdough.
- Trace over the line of each shape starting at the top of the shape to support letter and number formation.
Under the Sea Letter Pages
For the letter pages, ask your mini student to:
- Trace over each of the letters starting at the correct spot – look for the black dot!
- Play “I spy!” Ask your child to find a letter, or give them a sound to match to the letter. You could also describe the letters you would like them to find. For example, find the letters with circles, tails or straight lines.
Under the Sea Number Pages
For the number pages:
- Use a whiteboard marker to trace over each number starting at the correct spot – remember the black dot!
- Start building your child’s understanding of quantity by encouraging them to count materials from their fine motor bag to match the number.
A-Z Letter Pages
Use the front of these cards to build your child’s recognition of each letter and improve their oral language by:
- Making the uppercase and lowercase letter using the playdough or materials from your fine motor bag.
- Each letter is surrounded by pictures start with that letter and can be used to build your little one’s understanding of letter and sound relationships. When discussing the pictures focus on the first sound.
Step things up with the back of the card which focuses on letter recognition, tracing and writing of each letter. Encourage your school starter to:
- Find the correct letter and cover it with a felt ball or a button. Discuss with your child how they worked out which ones were the correct letters.
- Practise the correct letter formation by tracing and writing the number using their whiteboard marker. Direct your child to begin at the correct starting point, and after tracing, they can have a go at writing the letter on the line.
- Create items that start with that letter of the alphabet using your playdough. For example, can you make a tree for the letter T?
1-20 Number Pages
Cut the confusion with these sheets that focus on one numeral at a time. I recommend you start with the numbers 1-10 and then move to the teens. Remember, before starting school, it’s about familiarising your child with numbers and quantities – not about them knowing them all.
The first page builds your child’s recognition of each number, matching it with the correct quantity. Use these sheets to:
- Form the number using the items from your fine motor bag or playdough.
- Trace the number with your whiteboard marker from the correct starting spot.
Marbles in the jar is a fun way for children to begin associating the number with the matching quantity. Ask your child to:
- Count the marbles by pointing to each one.
- Use buttons, beads, felt balls or playdough to make up the quantity of each number.
Use the back of the sheet to extend your child’s knowledge of each number and its matching quantity.
Quantity has been represented with paddle pop sticks, blocks, dice and finger counts. These are all everyday items that will be found in your child’s classroom and will build their familiarity with each one. Encourage your child to:
- Transfer their understanding to the ten-frame by using their playdough or their fine motor bag goodies to build the number. In the classroom, we lead children to fill the top row before moving on to the second row on the ten-frame. This helps with visualising the number and supports early addition and subtraction knowledge.
- Trace over each number using your whiteboard marker.
- Have a go at writing the number on their own.