Fine motor can be one of the biggest challenges for a young child entering school. Here are some fun, NON pencil/paper ways to strengthen those skills at home!
Work dough (play dough, but by call it by a different name and encourage your child to make letters or shapes): Choose special colors for the "work dough" to distinguish it from play dough and always refer to it as "work!" If your child has difficulty forming the letters, take a marker and write one letter on a piece of paper and let her form the dough over it.
Tongs (you can grab these at the dollar store): Have your child practice picking up small objects and transferring them from one cup to another.
Hole punchers: Practice punching holes in construction paper, once your child has mastered this skill, write a letter on a piece of paper with a marker and have them punch along the marker line.
Alligator clip magnets: Practice pinching the magnets open and close.
Pom poms (a great rainy day activity!): Dump a bag of small pom poms out on the floor and tell your child he can only pick them up using his pointer finger and thumb.
Picking up coins: Spread coins on a flat surface and have your child practice picking up with her pincher fingers.
Sand: Place sand (colored sand is especially exciting) in a small Tupperware container and have your child practice writing letters in the sand. Always give them a model to refer to (write out a letter on a piece of paper or an ABC chart works great).
Clothespins: Write the letters of your child's name on clothespins and have them practice pinching the letters to a piece of paper in order.