Montessori uses plasticine clay to develop muscles for writing, Fun Dough works well too. Some other activities that develop writing coordination skills are sand and water play, finger painting, pouring activities and kneading bread.
Children need to use large pencils, chalk, washable markers and crayons for free drawing. Painting with large paintbrushes is another good writing readiness activity. Young children can use large paint brushes to paint with water. Provide different types of writing material, such as a chalk board and different types of paper With practice your child will develop dexterity, coordination and strength for writing skills.
When your child is able to write with a standard pencil correctly, the Montessori method introduces the metal insets. These are various geometric shapes that are traced by an older preschool child, usually age four.
If you don’t have the metal insets you can use basic stencil shapes, such as a circle, square, triangle and rectangle to trace on paper.. Also, many wooden shape puzzles can be traced. Check your cupboard for pot lids, they make great circles for tracing, square and rectangular pans work well too!
The equipment doesn’t matter as much as the opportunity to learn about shapes and tracing them.
Here is a free printout of the metal insets.