ClothesPin Pencil Grip

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Pencil grips! It can be hard to find the perfect pencil grip. And then, once you find one that works just right, that perfect pencil grip gets lost in the expanse of a backpack or a messy desk. Today, I’ve got a pencil grasp hack for you. This clothespin pencil grip will help kids write with a better pencil grasp, and it’s an inexpensive way to offer cues to position fingers on the pencil correctly.

ClothesPin Pencil Grip

Pencil grasp is a tricky thing! You can remind kids over and over, try all of the pencil grasp tricks and tips, but if a child struggles with fine motor skills, they revert right back to the inefficient and non functional pencil grasp. This is especially true in handwriting problems when kids are rushing to write or holding their pencil inefficiently, and legibility suffers. The easy pencil grasp trick described below is one that provides a frugal option for ensuring a functional pencil grasp and one that plays into the dexterity needed for letter formation and handwriting. Looking for more information on pencil grasp and fun ways to work on pencil grip?  Try these activities designed to boost pencil grasp in creative ways.     

Kids can hold a clothespin clipped onto a pencil to help with pencil grasp and fine motor skills needed for improving handwriting and pencil grasp with this easy pencil grasp trick.

  One of the skills kids need for handwriting is pencil grasp. 

Easy Pencil Grasp Trick…that costs pennies

For this pencil grasp trick, you’ll need to understand why it works.    The issue with many kids who hold a pencil with an inefficient grasp is the dexterity and limited motion that results. They are holding the pencil with their fingers wrapped in such a way that they can’t hold a pencil with dexterity. They lack pencil control needed for efficient handwriting speed. Letter formation suffers and legibility lacks. When a child moves ahead in grade level or age and are required to write more quickly, they can’t keep up with written work requirements and legibility suffers. They then can’t read their class notes, handwritten work, homework lists, etc.    Try these pencil control exercises for more fun ways to work on dexterity and pencil movement in letter formation.  

So why does this clothespin pencil grasp trick work?!

For the child who can’t maintain a proper pencil grasp because of inefficient separation of the sides of the hand, this easy pencil grasp trick can be just the way to ensure the stability side of the hand is separated motorically from the precision side of the hand. Read more about motoric separation of the sides of the hand and what that looks like in fine motor work (such as holding and writing with a pencil).  

When kids hold the pencil with the clothespin “bar”, it provides a physical prompt that allows them to flex or close their pinkie finger and ring finger around the support of the clothespin. This allows the stability side of the hand, or the ulnar side, to provide support in writing.  

The radial side of the hand, or the precision side, is then able to work independently of the other two fingers. This means the middle finger, ring finger, and thumb are free to manually move the pencil with precision. The precision side which primarily consist of the thumb and pointer finger movements in a tripod grasp can move the pencil with control and dexterity as the middle finger supports the pencil.   

For the modified tripod grasp, the middle finger can be a helper digit where it is positioned on the pencil shaft and a worker in moving the pencil with control.   

Both the tripod grasp and the modified tripod grasp are efficient pencil grasps. The primary concern is that the ulnar side is separate and supportive, allowing for endurance and dexterity in written work.   

Here is a fine motor activity that can be used to build and develop the separation of the sides of the hand.

Working on pencil grasp in handwriting? Why not start a handwriting club for kids? Kids can work on handwriting skills in a fun way. Here’s how to start a handwriting club kids will WANT to join!

Clip a clothespin onto a pencil to help kids with pencil grasp as a physical cue for better grip on the pencil when writing.

Clothespin Pencil Grip

Affiliate links are included below.  

For this pencil grip trick, you’ll need just a single clothespin. The clothes pin can be the standard wooden variety or a colorful plastic type. Why not make it a project and decorate the clothespins as a group to add a bit of fine motor play?

Check out these fun clothespins we decorated and used as a spacing tool to teach spacing between words when writing.   

Some great clothes pins can be found here:  Wooden clothespin, perfect for decorating and customizing Plastic, colored clothes pin (A great price for 100 plastic clothespins!)

Natural colorful wooden clothespins

Pink and blue decorated clothespins  

I can’t think of a student that would like to make this writing tool their own with some glitter paint, fun washi tape, adhesive gems, or stickers.    

Try this pencil grasp trick that uses a clothespin to help kids with pencil grasp for better handwriting.

More pencil grip tricks:

Pencil Grip idea
Simple pencil grasp trick
Opposition pencil grasp trick

Join the pencil grasp challenge!

Need to know about the skills that make up a functional pencil grasp? The Pencil Grasp Challenge is open! In this free challenge, you’ll learn what’s going on behind the inefficient and just plain terrible pencil grasps you see everyday in the classroom, clinic, or home. Along with loads of information, you’ll gain quick, daily activities that you can do today with a kiddo you know and love. These are easy activities that use items you probably already have in your home right now.

Besides learning and gaining a handful (pun intended) of fun ideas to make quick wins in pencil grasp work, you’ll gain:

  • 5 days of information related to pencil grasp, so you know how to help kids fix an immature pencil grasp.
  • Specific activities designed to build a functional pencil grasp.
  • Free printable handouts that you can use to share with your team or with a parent/fellow teachers.
  • You’ll get access to printable challenge sheets, and a few other fun surprises.
  • And, possibly the best of all, you’ll get access to a secret challengers Facebook group, where you can share wins, chat about all things pencil grasp, and join a community of other therapists, parents and teachers working on pencil grasp issues.

Click here to join the Pencil Grasp Challenge.

free pencil grasp challenge

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

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Pencil grip