Pencil Control Worksheets

pencil control worksheets

Part of handwriting legibility is the visual motor skills needed for pencil control and one tool in our toolbox are pencil control worksheets. Pencil control in isolation isn’t always addressed, but actually focusing on the refined pencil strokes and controlled movements of the pencil makes a huge difference in overall legibility. In this blog post, you’ll find many pencil control worksheet ideas and even have the ability to access a few of our favorites.

pencil control worksheets

Pencil Control Worksheets

Pencil control worksheets, or printable PDFs that target specific visual motor skills needed to move the pencil with precision and refined movements are tools that support handwriting.

When we use pencil control worksheets, it’s more than just moving the pencil to make marks.

Pencil skills worksheets can target many aspects of writing with a pencil:

  • Making small lines within a given space
  • Writing a letter on a small space, such as on our code breaker worksheets
  • Tracing over lines (Read here about the benefits of tracing lines)
  • Using precise movements in order to re-trace over letters when forming the alphabet correctly (letters like h, m, n, and r have re-trace where the pencil moves over an already formed pencil line).
  • Erasing the pencil marks
  • Writing with an appropriate and legible pencil pressure
  • Fluid and coordinated pencil strokes

Using worksheets to target specific skills like practicing letter formation isn’t always ideal. The occupational therapy practitioners may actually sway away from rote handwriting practice.

We’ve all seen it: A child is copying letters on a worksheet and the letters progressively get worse as they go across the page…or the margin creeps in as the child writes down the paper.

That is not to say that all letter formation worksheets are bad! In fact, we LOVE to target specific skills using letter writing practice on printable PDFs.

The OT trick is to facilitate the underlying skills, special themes that make the worksheet fun and engaging, and even using interactive worksheets that support skills in games or play-based learning.

The multisensory aspect is what turns an ordinary writing worksheet into a therapy tool!

All of these reasons are why using pencil control worksheets are great ways to target specific skills leading to handwriting legibility and functional writing skills.

Below, you’ll find ideas to make DIY pencil control worksheets, and then some of our favorite pencil control sheets. You can also grab a printable pencil control worksheets pdf at the very bottom of the page.

DIY pencil control worksheets

DIY Pencil Control Worksheets

The ideas below are some of our favorite ways to create your own DIY pencil control worksheets.

Does your school-aged child have difficulty with line awareness, pencil control, or letter formation?  Is your preschooler just learning to control the pencil while making straight lines, the diagonal lines of an “X” or the angled, connecting lines of shapes like a square, rectangle, or triangle? Do you know a child who is learning to control the “wobble” of the pencil while making a circle that connects the start to the finish?

All of these are pencil control skills!

It is easy to make fun worksheets that apply to your child’s needs/age-appropriate level/skills…and interests!

To make your own worksheets, you need just a few items:

  • plain paper
  • lined paper
  • graph paper
  • marker or highlighter
  • markers
  • pencil
  • stickers
  • dice

You don’t need to use all of these items…the activities below can be created over the course of several days or weeks. Pick and choose an activity and then go from there!

 
We shared one of our favorite pencil control exercises previously.
 
Use that idea along with these other worksheet ideas for more visual motor and fine motor work.
 
These are some easy handwriting exercises that can be done at home, or in the classroom. However, going from personal experience, the school-based OT doesn’t always have a ton of supplies on them. Depending on the setting and schedule, you may only have a marker, a pencil, and some paper in your possession. That’s where these DIY pencil and paper worksheets come into play.
 
 
 
Pencil control worksheet with stickers
 

DIY Pencil Control Sheet with Stickers

 
This worksheet activity is great because it targets pencil skills with a motivation factor. Using fun stickers makes it engaging for the user. Plus, you can factor in the benefits of playing with stickers by asking the child to place the sticker at one end of the lines.
 
Try to find some stickers that work with your therapy theme of the week or just are fun and motivating for the child’s interests.
 
Don’t have stickers? It’s not a big deal. Draw a small smiley face, simple car for the child that loves vehicles, or even colors of the rainbow. You can easily factor in so many personal interests to make this activity motivating with a simple drawing.
 
To make this pencil control activity:
  1. Use a highlighter to make straight, angled, and curvy lines going across the page…or add different twists and turns for your older child to trace along. 
  2. Grade the activity with the line width. Use thicker lines for a new writer and the school-aged child can work on very thin lines.
  3. Add a sticker at one end of the line. You can also add another sticker at the other end of the line if you like. 
 
Ask the child to keep the pencil lines inside of the yellow guide.  Fun stickers at the end of the lines always help 馃檪
 
 
DIY pencil control worksheet

 

Graded Pencil Control Activity

This handwriting activity can be “graded” (adjusted to start out very easy for the child and then changed just slightly to make it more and more challenging).  Grading an activity is helpful for the learner because it allows the child to feel success and gain confidence during a task, but also builds success with more difficult  levels.
 
 Ideas to grade these pencil worksheets:
 
  • Consider orientation: By changing the direction of the lines, you can target different skills.
  • Lines that start at the top of the page and go down toward the child’s body are easiest. Start there. Consider placing this style of worksheet activity on a slant board or vertical surface for strengthening, support, or upper body positioning. 
  • Lines that go from left to right across the page cross the midline. This is a need for many children and can also target visual scanning skills.
  • Consider using all curved lines or all angled lines, depending on the needs of the individual.
((I love Little Guy’s knight costume sleeve in this picture.  He rocks the knight costume at lease once a day  haha!))
 
 
 

DIY Pencil Control Sheets- Shapes

 
For the preschool child who is just learning to control the writing utensil, requiring them to write letters or write their name is beyond the scope of their development. We cover this in our resource on what happens when preschoolers are asked to write.
 
The pre-writing skills preschoolers actually need involve lines, shapes, coloring, and of course, fine motor play! We can target these skills using a pencil control sheet on shapes.
 
Think of it this way: To make a letter “A”, a child needs to create diagonal lines, which are two separate pencil strokes. The pencil needs to be placed at the correct point as the second line is created. The diagonal lines are further down the line-up, developmentally. Then, the middle line needs to connect two diagonal lines. For the child with an “A” in their name, asking them to make these marks before typical developmentally ready, you may end up with curved lines, shaky pencil marks, and misaligned connecting lines.
 
Practicing these skills in preschool over and over again leads to a motor plan for a poor letter formation.
 
That’s where pre-writing lines pencil control tasks are key.
 
We can foster the line markings of letters by making shapes and lines that ARE developmentally appropriate.
 
Pre-writing skills that can be targeted with pencil control shapes include: 
  • Straight lines
  • Starting the pencil at a certain point
  • Stopping the pencil at a certain point
  • Diagonal lines of an “X”
  • The angled, connecting lines of shapes like a square, rectangle, or triangle (making a sharp corner)
  • Smooth pencil strokes to create a curved line of a circle
  • Connecting shapes completely to close the shape
  • Hand strength and endurance to color in the shapes
  • Lifting the pencil and placing it on a specific point (Like adding a triangle to the top of a square to create a house, which is a skill needed to form some letters like adding the middle line to an “A”)
 
 
This DIY worksheet is similar to the one described above. Simply draw shapes using a marker. Create thicker or thinner lines. Then ask the child to trace over the lines.
 
You can then ask the child to color in the shapes using a crayon. We explained the skills behind this task in our pencil control activity which used colored pencils to fill in circles. 
 
 


DIY Pencil Control WORKSHEET with Line Awareness

The next worksheet idea focuses on spatial awareness skills in handwriting. This is also a pencil control technique.
 
  1. Use a blank piece of paper and using a marker, draw a shape such as a square.
  2. Draw a square around it. 
  3. Take turns with your child to make larger and larger shapes.

This activity is an easy way to work on pencil control skills using pre-writing shapes, but also focuses on the sharp angle of lines as they turn a corner. 

When the child makes the shape around your shape, they can work on pencil control for evenly spaced pencil strokes.

 
It’s a lot like doodling you did in your notebooks or while talking on the phone, right?
 
 
Taking turns with your little handwriting student helps them to see an accurate shape right next to the lines that they are drawing…with sharp edges and straight lines.
 
 
 

 


DIce Pencil Control Worksheet

Big Sister LOVED doing this one.  She filled out the whole sheet and had so much fun!  She would roll the dice, count the dots, and draw the dots (in the correct arrangement) in the squares on the page.
 
To create this DIY worksheet, you’ll need:
  • Blank paper
  • Marker
  • Dice
  • Pencil, crayon, or marker

You can work on so many skills with this activity. Counting, Copying, and Drawing with accurate spacing all work on her visual perceptual skills and spatial awareness.  

Set this activity up by:

  1. Draw lines to create a large grid on the paper. 
  2. Roll a dice. We used a large dice but a regular game dice would work too.
  3. Count the dots on the dice using the point of the pencil. Touch each dot. (A GREAT activity for targeting graded precision skills with the pencil)
  4. Then draw the dots on the paper in one of the spaces. Draw the dots exactly as they are on the dice.
 
These skills are essential for forming letters on lines, placing letters close enough to others in a word, and when copying lists of words. It’s a great beginner activity for near point copying skills.
 

 
 
 
 
Make early handwriting fun and your preschooler will have success…and love it!
 
 

Printable Pencil Control Worksheets 

Printable pencil control PDFs are an easy way to work on skills in therapy. You can print off a handful of the worksheets for your therapy caseload and use them in a variety of ways to target different OT goals and by grading the activities.

In The OT Toolbox Membership Club, we have over 130 printable pencil control worksheets (along with a thousand+ other skill-building activities and PDFs!). Membership Club members can log in and then head to our Pencil Control Skill to access them all.

Some of our favorites include:

  • Pencil control mazes
  • Dot games
  • Simple line printables
  • Eraser skill PDFs
  • Pencil control roads
  • Mazes
  • Connect the dot PDFs
  • Pre-writing pencil mazes
  • Pencil shading worksheets
  • Pencil line drawing activities like adding textures, dot features, or symmetry activities
  • Word search printables
  • Connect the matching items
  • So many more!
free pencil control worksheets

20 Free Pencil Control Worksheets

To get some printable pencil control worksheets, head to these blog posts. Each one addresses various aspects of handwriting skills, but in them, you can get a free printable pencil control PDF.

To get these printable worksheets, simply go to the bottom of the blog post and enter your email address into the form. (Each printable is also found in Level 1 of our membership, where are all “freebies” can be found. Level 2 members also get this benefit as well).

  1. Pencil Control Exercise– Copy pre-writing lines and shapes in a given space, between writing lines
  2. OT Coloring Pages– target hand strength and coloring in the lines
  3. Copy OT Words onto lines
  4. Mitten I Spy and Writing Pages– Color the shapes with a colored pencil and then write the words on the lines
  5. Number Formation Worksheet– Trace numbers on the shaded numbers
  6. Winter Color By Number– Color in the given space with controlled pencil/crayon motions
  7. New Years Maze– Keep your pencil in the path of the lines
  8. Number Road Playmats– Great for pencil control when making numbers
  9. Blank Word Search– Place letters inside the squares of the wordsearch grid
  10. 100 Snowballs Worksheet– Place numbers inside the circles
  11. Snowball Letter Practice– Trace letters on snowballs
  12. Holiday Lights Letter Tracing worksheet
  13. Hannukah Word Scramble– write the letters in the boxes
  14. Christmas Word Match– write the letters in the boxes
  15. Arctic Animal Word Search– circle single letters or the words to work on pencil skills
  16. Shadow Matching Worksheet– Connect the matching animals with pencil lines
  17. Dinosaur Worksheet– Connect the matching dinos with lines
  18. Owl Directed Drawing– Use pencil lines to create a simple owl
  19. Cotton Swab Art PDF– Break a cotton swab in half and use it to dot the lines
  20. Fine Motor Writing Sheets– Place play dough or small objects in the dots…or mark each dot with an X to fill the picture. Then write on the lines

For more resources, check out our library of letter formation worksheets. These printables are free and can be used to target a variety of skills.

The OT Toolbox membership club

Get all of the items listed above when you join The OT Toolbox Member’s Club! Free printables are available in our Level 1 membership and the freebies PLUS 1500+ more printable tools are available in our Level 2 membership!

Join The OT Toolbox Member’s Club today!

Colleen Beck, OTR/L has been an occupational therapist since 2000, working in school-based, hand therapy, outpatient peds, EI, and SNF. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. Read her story about going from an OT making $3/hour (after paying for kids’ childcare) to a full-time OT resource creator for millions of readers. Want to collaborate? Send an email to contact@theottoolbox.com.

Pencil Control Exercises

Pencil control exercises

Pencil control exercises, or visual motor exercises using precise pencil lines in a given space, support the motor skills needed for handwriting. Unlike what you typically think of when you hear the word, “exercise”, pencil exercises do not need to be rote physical work. The pencil control exercise ideas we have listed below are fun and easy ways to support refined and coordinated pencil control when writing.

Pencil control exercises

Pencil Control Exercises

We originally wrote this blog post back in 2017 and used graph paper to create a DIY pencil control exercise, targeting small pencil movements, eye hand coordination, and visual motor skills. The pencil exercise remains a valuable tool now, too! In fact, there are many reasons why using graph paper supports handwriting and the visual motor precision needed for forming and writing letters of the alphabet. Don’t forget about that sleeve of graph paper that is in the bottom of your filing cabinet!

When we say pencil control exercises we are referring to just one tool in the occupational therapy provider’s toolbox.

Pencil control can be achieved in many ways.  Using crayons to help with improving pencil control in handwriting  is one fun way that doesn’t seem like handwriting practice.  

Colored pencils are another tool that can be used to work on pencil control, like we did with these rainbow pencil control exercises

Below, I’m sharing how to use graph paper to address pencil control.  

But first, what is pencil control?  Glad you asked.

What is Pencil Control?

Pencil control is using the pencil to write in a way that is fluid and in control.  It’s writing letters with changes in direction at a speed that is developmentally appropriate and automatically.  Writing with pencil control allows children to write letters and words on the lines and with in a given space efficiently. 

Pencil Control Exercises

These pencil control exercises are so easy to throw together and a sure way to help kids work on line awareness and pencil use.  Working on pencil control is a way to help kids with letter formation and legibility in handwriting.  

When kids write quickly, legibility often times diminishes.  When kids have control over pencil strokes, they are able to carry over those skills.  

There are many ways to work on pencil control in creative and fun ways.  

We’ve shared a few different pencil control activities ideas that may help.  The pencil control practice sheets below are one that can be done quickly and in between classroom or therapy activities. 

 
 
Use this free pencil control exercise to help kids work on handwriting legibility.
 

This post contains affiliate links.
 
 

Use graph paper to work on pencil control:

It is very easy to work on pencil control with graph paper.  Graph paper is readily available.  Grab this inexpensive pack of graph paper, and get started!
 
First, it doesn’t matter what size graph paper you use.  Younger kids are using less control naturally, so changes in direction in a smaller area are more difficult for new writers.  
 
However, beginning lines and control with those lines can be used with smaller graph paper sizes.  
 
By that, I mean learning the beginning strokes of pencil control don’t contain a lot of changes of direction in a small area.  Beginning pencil control includes starting and stopping pencil lines, line length, and placing the pencil and pick it up in the correct areas.  
 
More advancing pencil control, and the ability needed for smaller handwriting size can use smaller sized graph paper for more changes in direction.  
 
Use this free pencil control exercise to help kids work on handwriting legibility.
 

Pencil Control Practice Sheets

This exercise is very easy to set up.
 
You need just two items:
  1. Graph paper
  2. Pencil
 
How to set up this pencil control exercise:
  1. Using the graph paper, just draw lines, shapes, dots, angles, and shapes.  
  2. Then, show kids how to copy those forms.  They will need to keep their pencil on the lines of the graph paper, start where the model starts, and end where the model lines end.  
 This is a good sheet to start with for kids who are writing.  Kids who have never written letters before or are new writers may benefit more from pencil control worksheets without the graph paper grids.  
 
 

 Other Pencil Control Exercises

You can use graph paper or regular notebook paper for these exercises.
 
  • Another way to work on pencil control with graph paper is using increasingly complicated forms and shapes on the graph paper.  Think: squares, X’s, and up/over/down lines.
  • Used lined paper and simply draw a series of lines from top to bottom lines, going across the page. Show the student how to start at the top line and stop at the bottom but not go over the line.
  • Then go across the page and draw lines down. 
  • Draw circles on the line.
  • Draw diagonal lines in both directions, starting at the top and then starting at the bottom.
  • Use blank paper and draw small circles like we did in this rainbow pencil control activity. Then fill in the circles with colored pencils.
  • Make your own pencil control worksheets.
 
 
Use this free pencil control exercise to help kids work on handwriting legibility.
 

Use this free pencil control exercise to help kids work on handwriting legibility

 

Read more on pencil control and find creative ways to improve handwriting through improved pencil control activities. 

 

Skills needed for pencil control exercises?

Movements of the pencil in order to form letters and place written work on lines or in a given space requires several underlying skills. Those skills include:

These skills enable the individual to move the pencil with the smaller joints of the hand, place the pencil point in a precise location, and move the pencil with graded movements.

When these skills are lacking, you might see the pencil movements not being precise or refined, the pencil not moving fluidly when forming letters, letters not being placed on the lines, lack of legibility, writing at an appropriate pencil pressure, poor re-trace in letters, and other factors that lead to challenges with controlled pencil strokes.

Looking for more Pencil Control Exercises?

Grab some of the pencil control worksheets we have here on the website! The OT Toolbox membership members can also access many resources inside the membership that target this area of development.

Level 2 members will find over 130 pencil control exercises, activities, and tools to specifically support this skill, with more being added all of the time. Plus, there are over 1500+ other printables, activities, screening materials, and much more available to target other skill areas.

Members can log into their account and click this link to access the printable materials.

Not a member yet? Learn more here.

The OT Toolbox membership club

Free Pencil Control Exercise

This free printable sheet is perfect for kids who struggle with legibility during writing, older kids who need to touch back on the basics of pencil control.  

It’s a great start for kids who need to work on visual perceptual skills needed for handwriting. Plus, we created this activity to target pre-writing skills. So, for our younger learners in kindergarten who are possibly pushed to write before they have developed the fine motor and visual motor skills needed to copy letter forms on a line, this is a great morning work activity or center activity.

Get the printable below by following these directions:

  1. Enter your name and email address into the form below.
  2. Click the button.
  3. Check your email.
  4. Find the email that just arrived from The OT Toolbox (sometimes it lands in spam, so check there too).
  5. Download the file in that email.

Here you go…

FREE Pencil Control Exercise

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    Colleen Beck, OTR/L has been an occupational therapist since 2000, working in school-based, hand therapy, outpatient peds, EI, and SNF. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. Read her story about going from an OT making $3/hour (after paying for kids’ childcare) to a full-time OT resource creator for millions of readers. Want to collaborate? Send an email to contact@theottoolbox.com.