There are so many ways to work on handwriting without actually using a pencil. You probably know the face your child makes when you suggest a little handwriting practice. It’s a cross between “NO!” and “Why???!!!” Anyone who has worked with a child who struggles with handwriting knows this face. But, what if I told you there were ways to work on the skills needed for handwriting and pencil grasp that don’t actually require a pencil?
It’s true! Kids can strengthen the fine motor skills and bimanual skills needed for handwriting legibility and written work through activities that develop skills such as fine motor strength, precision, bilateral coordination, eye-hand coordination, and even posture and core stability.
Handwriting Activities that Don’t Need a Pencil
Want to get a printable handout that contains creative activities to develop these skills? You can grab the handout packet here and pass it on to therapists, teachers, and parents who are looking for fresh ideas to improve handwriting in fun ways.
Try some of these non-pencil handwriting activities to work on the skills needed for handwriting:
These are just a FEW ideas that you can try to work on handwriting and pencil grasp skills.
Print off the printable handout for a checklist-type list of activities that can be used as a home program for therapists. School-based OTs will love to add these checklists to their toolbox of resources that can be shared with teachers and parents. It’s a great explanation sheet for helping parents and teachers understand the underlying skill areas that go into handwriting and pencil grasp.
Watch this video for more info about the handout:
This printable handout is a tool you need in your therapy binder to copy and share again and again!
What are your favorite ways to work on the skills needed for written work and pencil grasp? Share them in our private handwriting Facebook group, Sweet Ideas for Handwriting Help.
Kids with sensory needs can benefit from a themed intervention. The child that craves sensory input can benefit from a set of sensory activities that are designed around their special interests. The same holds true for the child who pulls back from sensations. A set of sensory activities with a special theme can be motivating for the child who avoids specific sensations, positions, or textures.
This post is one in a series of special-themed sensory activity sets. You can find all of the special interest activities on our Sensory Interests Series. Maybe there is a set of activities that is perfect for your child’s individual interests. You’ll find everything from sports to dolls to cooking, with more special interest sensory themes coming soon!
These activities and interest-led sensory-based ideas can be a great addition to a sensory diet. Read more about sensory diets.
Does your child LOVE trains? These sensory activities are designed to meet sensory needs in a motivating manner.
Train Themed Proprioception Activites
Push 2×4 wood pieces or wooden blocks with both hands down a driveway or sidewalk. There is a lot of history and research based on using sanding as a means of therapeutic intervention. Pushing a wooden block along a resistive surface applies proprioceptive input through bilateral resistive wrist, elbow & shoulders. Add additional blocks of wood to create a train.
Fill a cardboard box with books or other heavy items. Push it along a carpeted room. Add other boxes to the train. Try to keep them in a line. This is a great way to work on motor planning and core strength as kids balance to keep the boxes in the train aligned. Try this with books or crates.
Blow a train whistle.
Draw tracks on a paper with pencil. Children can use a rectangular school eraser as a “train” to erase the train track lines. Draw the lines with heavier pressure for more required proprioceptive input. Drawing with lighter strokes requires less heavy work. Also try a kneaded eraser.
Fill a laundry basket with books, blocks, or other heavy items. This can be a train cargo car that needs loaded and unloaded in order to set off on a delivery. Kids can act like a crane with whole body movements.
Fill a plastic sandwich bag with dry beans. Reinforce the edges and sides with heavy duty tape like duct tape. Cover the entire plastic bag to create a DIY bean bag. Stick train stickers to the outside of the bean bag. Use them to play target games.
These train beads would come in handy for heavy work to the hands. Hide them in silly putty, slime, or thera-putty. Hide them in play dough and then freeze the dough to add more resistance. Kids can find and hide the train beads for proprioceptive input through the hand and finger joints.
Tape pieces of paper to the floor in a line. These are the “tracks” of a train. Kids can hop, leap, or jump from paper to paper as an indoor heavy work activity.
Use sidewalk chalk to create train tracks on a large sidewalk or driveway. Hop, run, leap, skip, or jump on the track from stop to stop.
Stick masking tape to the floor of a carpeted floor. Ask kids to send animals on the train! They can do different animal walks along the tracks to get from train stop to train stop. Animal walks that add proprioceptive input include: bear walk, crab walk, frog hop, or donkey kicks.
Vestibular Train Themed Sensory Activities
Make a train with friends and walk over couch cushions and outside down slopes and on slanted grassy surfaces.
Use a therapy scooter board to pull the child using therapy band or a hoola hoop. The child can pretend they are on a train as they ride in various directions.
March along a path or balance beam like a train.
Oral Sensory Motor Train Themed Sensory Activities
Make a Train Whistle to address oral motor and proprioceptive needs. Kids can use a recycled cardboard tube such as a paper towel roll. Using a sharp pencil, punch a hole in the middle of the tube. Cover one end with a small piece of wax paper and attach with a rubber band. Use the tube like a kazoo. When kids blow into the hole, a buzzing noise like a train whistle is produced. Use this DIY train whistle craft as a tool for sensory needs.
Auditory Train Themed Sensory Activities
Use a train whistle to create loud or soft whistles. Listen for the volume of the whislte and play a matching game where kids need to copy the intensity of sound. Try this with patterns, too.
Tactile Train Themed Sensory Activities
Make an easy train themed busy bag. Ask kids to guess the items in a bag without looking and just using the sense of touch to identify shapes and items. This activity is based on the children’s book, Steam Train Dream Train.
These activities are designed to be taken out of the home or classroom. Use them while out in the community, while in the car, or when traveling.
Create a travel sensory bag with fidget toys, train activity cards, sensory snacks, or weighted tools. This train key chain is a great fidget tool that can be attached to backpacks, jackets, binders, or belt loops.
More Train Sensory Tools
There are other sensory tools that kids can have in their arsenal as a tool for self-regulation:
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