Before placing a pencil and paper in front your child, make sure their fine motor control is sufficiently developed. Below are some ideas for activities that will help with this.
Put 2 dollops (tablespoons?) of chocolate pudding onto a paper plate then smear the pudding around plate. Allow your child plenty of free exploration with the pudding on plate - you may need to dollop more pudding as the activity progresses. Always do the activity with the children so that they have a role model to go by. See or write what you are asking of them on paper/white-board or on your own pudding plate. Begin to make shapes in the pudding, and eventually start to form letters/ numbers/ shapes.
Each time the children smear or run their fingers through the pudding, they will likely lick the pudding off their fingers like a painter dipping their brush in water. Let them have fun but encourage cleanliness at all times! You can ask your child to shape their name or make straight or curvy lines, make a square, circle, or tree; the choices are as endless as your and your children's imaginations are.
You can achieve similar outcomes using Play-doe (make your own; 1 cup flour, teaspoon oil - food colour/glitter/scented extract optional) or Plasticine. Your child can roll it into snakes and start forming letters/numbers. If available, provide laminated cards of the symbols so they can form their letters/numbers on top of the cards.
Before your child starts formally tracing letters, remember the following: