Before your children can write letters, they need to master tracing. Grab the free tracing lines worksheets to get your children writing well.
As parents, we just kind of take for granted that we can pick up a pencil and write.
But it’s not that easy for a lot of children. Especially if your child is neurodivergent or has other fine motor skills challenges, learning to write can be a big undertaking.
That’s why tracing lines worksheets can be so helpful. They give your child and you a concrete way to practice the building blocks of writing.
So read about why and how to use tracing lines worksheet and grab some free printables in this post.
What are Tracing Lines?
Tracing lines are lines that your child will use to practice tracing. They are usually found on a worksheet and children often use a writing implement, like a crayon or marker to trace.
Tracing lines are often dashed or dotted. This visual gives your child a prompt to trace the line to make it whole.
However, tracing can also be developed with gray lines. Some occupational therapists and handwriting programs prefer to use a solid gray line.
Their theory is that children don’t automatically understand that the dotted lines represent a solid line. Gray lines help children see the shape or letter as a whole.
- Related: Letter Tracing Worksheets
How does Tracing Develop?
There is a natural progression of writing skills. Your child won’t be ready to trace letters until they can master certain pre-writing skills.
This is the progression of pre-writing skills
- vertical lines (2-3 years old)
- horizontal lines (2.5 -3 years old)
- circle (2.5 – 3 years old)
- cross (3.5 – 4 years old)
- square (4 – 5 years old)
- diagonal lines (4.5 – 5 years old)
- X shape (5 – 6 years old)
- triangle (5 -6 years old)
The progression of developing independence with these skills is:
- First, a child imitates as an adult draws or traces.
- Next, the child can copy a model
- Last, the child can write the shape independently.
Why is Tracing Important for Preschoolers?
Tracing lines are important for preschoolers for several reasons:
- handwriting strokes
- fine motor skills
- hand control
- visual-spatial skills
- focus and concentration
Tracing lines helps children develop the basic strokes needed for handwriting. Letters are made of a series of vertical, horizontal, and diagonal lines and curves.
By tracing these lines, your child is getting practice in making those letters.
Fine motor skills
Fine motor skills involves using hands and wrists to make small movements. These movements need to be more exact than gross motor skills like running and jumping.
Tracing helps strengthen fine motor skills by activating all the muscles in the hands and wrists. This in turn will help your child when they stack blocks, tie their shoes, or search for page 42 in a textbook.
Pencil control is the prewriting skill where a child can control a writing implement to form a line or object accurately. Being about to control a pencil or another writing implement to form lines and letters takes a lot of practice.
Visual-spatial skills include the ability to see how lines and shapes occupy space on a piece of paper. Children need to see how lines and shapes relate to one another in order to write and read properly.
Tracing lines help children practice visual-spatial skills by looking at the lines and shapes and recreating them within a defined space.
Focus and concentration
Focus is narrowing attention to one thing and blocking out distractions. Concentration is sustaining that attention for a period of time.
Some people argue that preschoolers should just play and not do seatwork like tracing lines. But one of the benefits is learning to focus and concentrate on non-preferred activities for a very short period of time.
Can 3-year-olds use tracing lines worksheets?
Yes, these are great tracing line worksheets for 3-year-olds. If you look at the progression chart above, three-year-olds can make horizontal and vertical lines, circles, and crosses.
Some of the other lines might be too advanced for your three-year-old so just hold onto them until your child’s fine motor skills develop a bit more.
These tracing lines worksheets are excellent for four-year-olds. They review prior skills that most four-year-olds have mastered but also demonstrate new skills for your preschool child.
But all in all, these are great printable tracing lines worksheets for 3-year-olds.
Tracing Line Worksheets Free Download
You can grab a set of tracing lines worksheets as a free download. These are special gift for my email subscribers.
Just enter your name and email and let me know if you’re a teacher, a parent or a parent who is also a teacher!
Then go check your email. It’s conveniently sent there so you can store it easily. Click on the button in the email and it should open in another window in your browser.
If it doesn’t print properly, right-click the button and save it to your computer. Then open with Abode and it will print correctly.
Types of Tracing Lines Worksheets for 4 year old
Not all tracing lines are exactly the same. This is because we use a variety of strokes when writing letters, numbers, and when drawing pictures.
These are some common types of tracing lines:
- long horizontal lines
- short horizontal lines
- long vertical lines
- short vertical lines
- diagonal lines from left to right
- diagonal lines from right to left
- bumpy lines that scoop
- wavy lines that peak
- zig-zag lines
- geometric shapes: circles, squares, triangles
How to Use Tracing Lines Worksheets
You probably think: it’s easy to use tracing lines worksheets. Just give them to my kid.
Not so fast.
One of my children’s OTs explained this to me. You need to follow the progression of tracing skills listed above:
- the adult models
- the child imitates and then copies
- finally the child can do it independently.
So here’s how to use tracing lines worksheets:
- You need to model how to trace first for your child.
- So print two copies: one for you to use and one for your child to mimic how you traced.
- Let your child choose a writing implement.
- Demonstrate on the worksheet where to start.
- Show your child how to trace using a verbal prompt like “up, down” or “circle around.”
- Give your child the opportunity to trace.
- Praise their progress with a comment like, “You’re working hard.”
Make sure you are offering positive feedback that focuses on effort rather than achievement. It’s unlikely that your child is going to master it right away.
Finding More Tracing Lines Worksheets
If you’re looking for more tracing lines worksheets, check out the preschool worksheet packets. Each packet has several pages of tracing lines, plus large size number and letter tracing.
Hands-on Tracing Lines Practice
Do you prefer more hands-on tracing lines practice for your child? Busy Binder Printables are an excellent solution.
Your child can use play-doh, pipe cleaners, or wiki-sticks to practice building and tracing lines.
Recapping Tracing Lines Printable PDF
Here’s the quick summary about using the tracing lines printable PDF:
- Tracing lines are often dotted or dashed line that a preschooler traces with a crayon.
- They help children develop a variety of fine motor skills like visual-spatial skills and pencil grip.
- There is a natural progression of pre-writing skills from making lines all the way to making geometric shapes.
- Children work from imitating an adult, to copying a model, to write independently.
- Tracing lines can include short and long lines, shapes, zig-zags, bumpy lines, and more.
- Make sure to keep tracing line worksheet sessions brief and positive.
- Demonstrate for your child how to make each line.
Using tracing lines printables at home can be simple. Grab these free printable tracing lines pdfs.
Print a copy for your child and you. Model the lines for your child, and encourage their practice.