Rainbow Pencil Control Exercises

Pencil control exercises with colored pencils

If you are looking for ways to work on handwriting legibility and pencil control, then you are in the right place. This Occupational Therapist loves to teach kids handwriting.  Neatness counts when it comes to writing on the lines and being able to read that homework assignment a few hours into the nightly after-school ritual.  Today, I’ve got one easy tip for helping kids to manage with pencil control in order to write on the lines at an age-appropriate speed. Add this pencil control activity to this list of pencil control exercises.

Pencil control exercises with colored pencils
This activity is perfect for kids from Kindergarten on up through school-aged.  Anyone who is writing with a pencil and trying to form letters on lines, copy written work, fill in worksheets, and take notes will love this handwriting exercise in pencil control.
 
Try these pencil control handwriting exercises to work on writing in lines with the small muscles of the hands for more accuracy with lines, legibility, and speed when writing.
 
 


Pencil Exercises

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Pencil exercises like this simple colored pencil activity are powerful ways to improve pencil control in handwriting.
 
This activity is really, so simple.  There is nothing you need more than a pencil and paper.  We pulled out colored pencils to make our handwriting activity into a rainbow of color and to add a visual scanning component.

 

Try these pencil control handwriting exercises to work on writing in lines with the small muscles of the hands for more accuracy with lines, legibility, and speed when writing.

 

Rainbow Pencil Control Exercises

With this activity, we’re working on keeping the pencil strokes within the lines of a small circle.  

  1. First, draw a bunch of circles in different colors on a piece of paper.  The circles should be 1/4 inch in diameter.  
  2. Ask your child to fill in the circle with the matching colored pencil. A red circle should be filled in with the red colored pencil.  

The objective here is to fill in the whole circle without going over the lines.  Because the circle is so small, filling it in with the colored pencil requires very small muscle movements of the fingers.  

A child who uses their wrist or forearm to write (such as a child using a grasp such as the thumb wrap grasp, for example, are over compensating for weakness and lack of endurance of the intrinsic musculature in the hand and utilizing a stabilizing grasp.  This rainbow pencil control exercise strengthens dexterity, including range of motion in the thumb IP joint. Read more about the thumb IP joint and handwriting in a previous post.

This overcompensation does not allow fluid motions of the fingers when moving the pencil in handwriting.  Because the circles are so small, the child can focus more on using the small motor motions to fill in the color.

 
Try these pencil control handwriting exercises to work on writing in lines with the small muscles of the hands for more accuracy with lines, legibility, and speed when writing.

 

 

More Pencil Control Exercises


Extend this activity to further your child’s fine motor skills and pencil control in handwriting:

  • Ask your child to draw an “X” in each circle, without going over the lines.
  • Ask your child to draw horizontal or vertical lines within each circle, much like we did here.
  • Create a color coding activity: Match one circle color up with another pencil color.  When you call out a color, your child can fill in that colored circle with a different, predetermined colored pencil.  This is a test of visual scanning and quick thinking.
  • Draw larger circles and show your child how to fill them in with strait pencil strokes.
  • Work on pencil control strokes using the pages in our Colors Handwriting Kit
Pencil control exercises for kids using colored pencils

    This rainbow handwriting activity is part of the Rainbow Activities for Kids series.  Find more rainbow activities here:

rainbow activities for kids

FROM LEFT TO RIGHT:Rainbow in a Bag – No Mess Art // Powerful Mothering Rainbow Pasta Threading // Play and Learn
Everyday Rainbow Tinker Tray // Still Playing School How to Flip a
Rainbow | Simple Science for Kids
// Lemon Lime Adventures Rainbow Sun Craft // Fairy Poppins Beginning Sound Rainbows // Playdough to Plato DIY Rainbow Crayon Names // Pre-K
Pages Rainbow Bear Color Matching Game
// Life Over Cs Rainbow
Marble Painting Process Art
// Preschool Inspirations DIY Paper Plate Loom: Rainbow Yarn Art // Sugar Spice and
Glitter Rainbow Sight Words // The Kindergarten Connection Rainbow Math with a DIY Abacus // Fun-a-Day Simple Rainbow Sensory Bottle for Kids // Coffee Cups
and Crayons Roll a Rainbow // The STEM Laboratory  

Colored pencils exercises for improving pencil control in handwriting.

Looking for more handwriting ideas?  Here are some of my favorites:

Colors Handwriting Kit

Rainbow Handwriting Kit– This resource pack includes handwriting sheets, write the room cards, color worksheets, visual motor activities, and so much more. The handwriting kit includes:

  • Write the Room, Color Names: Lowercase Letters
  • Write the Room, Color Names: Uppercase Letters
  • Write the Room, Color Names: Cursive Writing
  • Copy/Draw/Color/Cut Color Worksheets
  • Colors Roll & Write Page
  • Color Names Letter Size Puzzle Pages
  • Flip and Fill A-Z Letter Pages
  • Colors Pre-Writing Lines Pencil Control Mazes
  • This handwriting kit now includes a bonus pack of pencil control worksheets, 1-10 fine motor clip cards, visual discrimination maze for directionality, handwriting sheets, and working memory/direction following sheet! Valued at $5, this bonus kit triples the goal areas you can work on in each therapy session or home program.

Click here to get your copy of the Colors Handwriting Kit.

Colleen Beck, OTR/L is an occupational therapist with 20 years experience, graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 2000. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. As the creator, author, and owner of the website and its social media channels, Colleen strives to empower those serving kids of all levels and needs. Want to collaborate? Send an email to contact@theottoolbox.com.

Rainbow Hundreds Chart Puzzle

In this rainbow math activity, we used popsicle sticks to make a rainbow hundreds chart puzzle that was perfect for my kindergarten and second grade kiddos. (And, it would be a nice hands-on math activity for first grade, too.)  This is a multisensory math idea that combines fine motors skills with the colors of the rainbow to teach kids about groups of tens in a hundreds chart.

Combining numbers into groups of ten and those tens into hundreds is a math concept that is so important for so many math concepts.  We worked on fine motor skills to build the tens columns and combined them into hundreds to work on a few math skills.

Make this hundreds chart puzzle with rainbow popsicle sticks for multisensory math and hands on learning for kids.

This was such a fun rainbow activity for the season, but this activity could definitely be used year-round.


Hundreds Chart Puzzle

Amazon links are included below. You’ll need a few materials for this rainbow hundreds chart puzzle:

A punch like this one is perfect for building gross hand grasp strength. BUT, if you want this crafting project to move by faster than a snail’s pace, use a 3 Hole Punch. It’s perfect for working proprioception to the arms.  Fold paper into columns and slide it into the punch to get a bunch of holes punched at once.

Make a hundreds chart puzzle using rainbow popsicle sticks for multisensory math for kids.

To make the rainbow puzzle:
Punch a ton of holes from the white paper.

Sort the popsicle sticks into rainbow order on the table surface. Kids can work on visual scanning and visual perceptual skills for this task as they look for colors of the rainbow.

Next, Swipe the glue along the craft sticks and count out ten holes from the white paper. This is a super counting activity for kids to practice counting ones and grouping into tens.  

The fine motor work going on here is fantastic, too. Picking up those itty bitty paper holes is a precision grasp workout.

Punch extra holes from the colored construction paper.  

A rainbow popsicle stick hundreds chart puzzle is a fine motor math activity that kids can make.

 

And, you’re done!  Practice counting the numbers using the tens craft sticks.  Arrange them into groups of ten sticks to create a hundreds chart.  

Use this rainbow math hundreds chart to work on building tens and hundreds into a hands-on math hundreds chart activity, perfect for working on important math concepts and fine motor skills with kindergarten, first grade, and second grade!
Use this rainbow math hundreds chart puzzle to work on building tens and hundreds into a hands-on math hundreds chart activity, perfect for working on important math concepts and fine motor skills with kindergarten, first grade, and second grade!

Multisensory Math activities

Use this rainbow hundreds chart puzzle for a variety of hands-on math activities:

  • Sort the popsicle sticks into rainbow order.
  • Count the dots by tens
  • Add up all of the colors that are the same, being sure to count by tens.
  • Build two and three digit numbers
  • Practice addition with and without regrouping using the manipulatives as counters.
  • Practice subtraction with and without regrouping using the craft stick manipulatives.
  • Build a two or three digit number and ask your child to name the number.
  • Ask your child to name a number and then build a two or three digit number.

Looking for more ways to learn with rainbows?  

Rainbow learning activities for kids

 

Use this rainbow math hundreds chart to work on building tens and hundreds into a hands-on math hundreds chart activity, perfect for working on important math concepts and fine motor skills with kindergarten, first grade, and second grade!

Our favorite multisensory math activities:


Regrouping double digit math

Outer Space Regrouping Maze


Regrouping Tips and Tricks

How would you play and learn with this rainbow hundreds chart puzzle and math popsicle stick hundreds chart?

Take multisensory learning further with the rainbow theme. Try our new Colors Handwriting Kit. It now includes a bonus pack of fine motor, visual motor, and directionality pencil control activities.

Colors Handwriting Kit

Rainbow Handwriting Kit– This resource pack includes handwriting sheets, write the room cards, color worksheets, visual motor activities, and so much more. The handwriting kit includes:

  • Write the Room, Color Names: Lowercase Letters
  • Write the Room, Color Names: Uppercase Letters
  • Write the Room, Color Names: Cursive Writing
  • Copy/Draw/Color/Cut Color Worksheets
  • Colors Roll & Write Page
  • Color Names Letter Size Puzzle Pages
  • Flip and Fill A-Z Letter Pages
  • Colors Pre-Writing Lines Pencil Control Mazes
  • This handwriting kit now includes a bonus pack of pencil control worksheets, 1-10 fine motor clip cards, visual discrimination maze for directionality, handwriting sheets, and working memory/direction following sheet! Valued at $5, this bonus kit triples the goal areas you can work on in each therapy session or home program.

Click here to get your copy of the Colors Handwriting Kit.

Colleen Beck, OTR/L is an occupational therapist with 20 years experience, graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 2000. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. As the creator, author, and owner of the website and its social media channels, Colleen strives to empower those serving kids of all levels and needs. Want to collaborate? Send an email to contact@theottoolbox.com.

Crossing the Midline Activity Letter Rainbow

Crossing the midline letter activity

This crossing the midline activity is a way to help kids with midline skills, as well as letter identification, using a rainbow theme. In the simple midline activity, children create a rainbow while visually scanning from left to right to match letters with different colors of the rainbow. It’s a letter version of our rainbow ladder that is also instrumental in helping children with underlying handwriting skills including visual motor integration and crossing the midline.

Crossing the midline activity for letter fluency, visual motor integration, and midline crossing skills.

This particular  Kids can work on so many skills with this simple visual motor rainbow.  We worked on matching printed lower case letters to cursive letters but you could do this one with upper and lower case letter match-ups or just matching upper case to upper case.  Some of the underlying skills that is necessary for kids to write legibly are visual motor integration and crossing midline.  This visual motor integration letter rainbow works on those skills with a colorful result.

We also used our rainbow of hues to work on the visual motor skills needed for pencil control.  This activity also addresses the ability to coordinate visual input to the motor movements of the hands. Kids can work on their fine motor development with the simple rainbow activity described below.


Work on crossing the midline and letter identification to match letters to cursive letters with a rainbow.


Crossing the Midline

In another blog post, we cover more about crossing the midline, particularly with the lower body, in a midline marching activity for children.

So, what crossing the midline?  

Midline of the body is an imaginary line that drops from the middle of the head, strait down over the nose, to the belly button and divides the body into left and right sides.  Many movements and functional tasks occur with just one hand, like holding a phone. A user could hold the phone on one side of the body and turn their head to that direction. In that particular task and positioning, the activiy is localized to a side of the body and doesn’t cross the midline.

Other tasks occur at the midline. This includes activities such as reading a book or brushing the teeth. The dominant hand will do most of the work, like turning the pages of the the book or manipulating the toothbrush, while the nondominant hand assists in the task. In our examples, the activity occurs mainly at midline, and there is not much crossing over of the middle of the body. However, the non dominant hand might assist by holding the book or by squeezing the toothpaste onto the tooth brush, (or holding the toothbrush while the dominant hand squeezes the toothbrush). As a side note, many of these muscle movement patterns are not something that we think through throughout our day. The movement patterns are just automatic and natural. That is part of muscle memory and motor planning that has been established and ingrained. Trouble occurs when there is a block to the automaticity such as difficulty with crossing the midline.

Still other activities require intense midline crossing. This includes activities where the midline must be crossed in order for the task to be completed. Activities exemplifying midline crossing include dressing the lower body or in play. In the example of dressing, you notice that one arm reaches over the midline in order to feed the opposite foot into a pants leg. Similarly, with pulling on socks, both hands reach to one foot and the right arm crosses the midline when pulling on the sock of the left foot.

Crossing midline refers to moving the left hand/arm/foot/leg across this line to the right side (and vise versa).  Crossing midline also refers to twisting the body in rotation around this imaginary line, and leaning the upper or body across the middle of the body.

Problems with Crossing the Midline

When crossing the midline is a problem, or it’s not been properly established as an automatic movement pattern, you may notice these movements instead of crossing midline:

  • Switching hands during an activity
  • Twisting the body to complete tasks- rotating the trunk to complete tasks
  • Preferring to use one hand over the other: Using the right hand for tasks on the right side of the body and using the left hand for tasks on the left side of the body
  • Mixed dominance
  • Trouble with fine motor tasks that require two hands: writing, coloring, cutting with scissors, manipulating utensils, cutting with a knife and fork, etc.
  • Trouble with gross motor tasks like jumping, skipping, hopping, crawling
  • Trouble with laterality
  • Trouble with keeping their place when reading across a page

Crossing the Midline Letter Activity

The midline letter activity described here is a beneficial way to work on crossing midline for several reasons:

  • The activity encourages children to cross midline with large motions across a page
  • The activity encourage visual shifting to scan across a page, incorporating crossing the midline into reading and writing tasks which can impact reading fluency and accuracy
  • The activity works on letter identification and challenges children to integrate visual skills with movements (hand eye coordination)

In the crossing the midline letter rainbow activity described here, we worked on cursive letter identification. Many times when children practice cursive writing, they do so in isolated practice settings: practicing rows of cursive letters, one at a time, and then stringing that letter into words on a worksheet. But sometimes, the cursive letter fluency piece is skipped. Reading a letter or a word pairs the cursive letter with orthographic patterns so that cursive writing and reading becomes fluent.

You could use this midline rainbow activity with any letter matching exercise:

  • Matching shapes or colors
  • Matching letters to images that start with that letter to incorporate phonological awareness
  • Matching lowercase printed letters to uppercase printed letters
  • Matching lowercase cursive letters to lowercase printed letters
  • Matching uppercase printed letters to uppercase cursive letters
  • Matching lowercase cursive letters to uppercase cursive letters

Set up a crossing the midline activity:

This rainbow activity can be performed in several ways.  Children can work on a large scale and address bilateral coordination and midline crossing with a large piece of easel paper or butcher paper taped to a wall.  Another option is to set this rainbow activity up at a dry erase board or chalk board.

To make the midline board:

  1. Colored markers/crayons/chalk/colored pencils-We used (affiliate link) Mr. Sketch scented markers to add multisensory learning components.
  2. Next, draw two vertical lines on opposite sides of the paper, or about 2-3 feet apart.  
  3. Along the left vertical line, form letters in one format (print, cursive, lowercase, uppercase, etc.) 
  4. On the opposite line, form either matching letters in upper case/lower case/cursive. Ensure the letters are mixed in order, so the lines need to cross over one another.

Next, work on crossing midline skills:

  1. To perform this visual motor letter rainbow, ask the child to start on the left side and draw an arching line to connect to the matching letter on the right side of the paper.  Working on a large scale to perform this activity promotes crossing of the midline as well as visual motor skills.


    2. Ask the student to start at the left line and stop at the right line when drawing their rainbow lines. When the child is making the arches, they should not start or go over the vertical lines by more than 1/4 inch.  Ask them to connect the matching letters with matching colored markers. 


Grade this activity by asking the child to start and end at the vertical lines without crossing over the lines.  This is an excellent way to address pencil control and visual motor skills.


Vary the activity

  • Complete the midline activity by completing the rainbow in a standing or seated position.  Be sure to watch for the child to compensate for midline crossing by shifting weight, rotation of the body, pivoting of the trunk, or movement of the legs.  The child should remain facing forward without any of these motions noted.
  • Kids can also complete this activity with diagonals of with strait lines to connect the letters.
  • Address visual motor skills with the letter rainbow on a small scale as a table-top activity.  
  • Draw the lines on a smaller scale and ask kids to connect letters while touching but not going over the vertical lines with the colored markers.
  • Use different surfaces- dry erase board, chalkboard, asphalt or sidewalk with sidewalk chalk, working on a large piece of paper or cardboard on the ground, and paper hung on a wall are all options.
  • Use a variety of writing materials: If working on a dry erase surface, use Dry erase markers. You’ll need a rainbow of colors.
  • Work in a sensory bin using sand or other sensory bin base materials. Letters can be written under the sensory bin, like we did with this sensory writing tray.
  • This activity works well on the ground too. In that case, use Rainbow colored chalk if working on a large piece of cardboard from an old box or on the sidewalk. This option adds resistance to the activity, providing proprioceptive feedback.
  • You could also use crayons, finger paints, colored pencils, sidewalk chalk, or water colors.
Use scented markers for a multisensory learning approach to crossing the midline and matching letters.

Need more ways to work on visual motor integration, crossing midline, handwriting, and functional skills? Grab the Colors Handwriting Kit. It comes with activities to promote functional handwriting, and multisensory learning. You’ll also get a bonus offer of fine motor activity pages.

Just print and go!

Colors Handwriting Kit

Rainbow Handwriting Kit– This resource pack includes handwriting sheets, write the room cards, color worksheets, visual motor activities, and so much more. The handwriting kit includes:

  • Write the Room, Color Names: Lowercase Letters
  • Write the Room, Color Names: Uppercase Letters
  • Write the Room, Color Names: Cursive Writing
  • Copy/Draw/Color/Cut Color Worksheets
  • Colors Roll & Write Page
  • Color Names Letter Size Puzzle Pages
  • Flip and Fill A-Z Letter Pages
  • Colors Pre-Writing Lines Pencil Control Mazes
  • This handwriting kit now includes a bonus pack of pencil control worksheets, 1-10 fine motor clip cards, visual discrimination maze for directionality, handwriting sheets, and working memory/direction following sheet! Valued at $5, this bonus kit triples the goal areas you can work on in each therapy session or home program.

Click here to get your copy of the Colors Handwriting Kit.

Colleen Beck, OTR/L is an occupational therapist with 20 years experience, graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 2000. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. As the creator, author, and owner of the website and its social media channels, Colleen strives to empower those serving kids of all levels and needs. Want to collaborate? Send an email to contact@theottoolbox.com.

Use rainbow colors to work on the skills needed for handwriting with a visual motor letter rainbow activity.

Here are more rainbow activities to pair with ours: