Today, we’re covering a great fine motor resource: handwriting warm up exercises. These fine motor warm up exercises get the blood flowing and prime the hands for mobility and dexterity. When many children write with a pencil, they complain about their hands being tired. The same is true when coloring a coloring page. What’s going on with this hand fatigue? Let’s explore handwriting warm ups!
You’ll also want to check out our related resources that offer more insight and activities:
Let’s focus on the fine motor warm ups for handwriting needs…
Handwriting Warm Ups
What exactly are we talking about when we say handwriting warm ups?
As an Occupational Therapist, I’ve had many years of warm-up exercises at the beginning of treatment sessions. Whether I was working with a child on fine motor skills or an adult with a shoulder injury, each and every session had a warm-up of some type.
These are activities that will be fun for your kiddo and not seem so much like exercises, which in fact, WILL be exercises! These activities are fun and creative ways to “wake up” the muscles, let the child’s body know they are ready for handwriting tasks, and get little muscles of the hands ready for small motor movements and dexterity needed in handwriting.
These warm up exercises also make a great finger strengthening exercise program.
The Proprioception system sometimes needs a warm up before getting busy on a task like handwriting that requires precision and small motor movements and appropriate pressure on the pencil. Are you ready for some fine motor warm-ups? Get ready to have some fun, because these aren’t your typical sweat-inducing exercises!
One way to warm up little hands before handwriting is with finger workouts. One that we love is in the video below. You can also find this video on YouTube.
Handwriting Warm-Up Exercises for Kids
Playdough is a great fine motor warm up to dexterity tasks.
More handwriting warm-up exercises
- Finger push-ups- Show your child how to spread their fingers far apart. They can press their fingertips onto the table surface and push down. Then, ask them to raise their hands and arms height above their head to stretch the whole upper body.
- Roll play dough into small balls. Roll the play dough into snakes. Press a pencil into the snake and cut on the lines with scissors so you end up with small pieces of play dough.
- Squeeze stress balls- You can also squeeze a rubber ball for a free or almost free option.
- Hand squeezes: squeeze hands into a fist and then stretch out the fingers and wrists.
- Play with Finger Puppets. Make your own! Use our free printable to make farm themed puppets. Simply tape them into a loop shape and slide onto the fingers.
- Wall push-ups: Place both hands on a wall and push away from the wall. This is a standing activity and engages the whole arm in a pre-handwriting exercise.
- Play Pick Up Sticks. Make your own using dyed lollipop sticks.
- Stick very small small stickers going down the length of a pencil. Ask your child to start at the eraser end and work their fingers down the pencil so they pinch each of the stickers.
is a great warm-up activity for little hands.
- Play string games like Cat’s Cradle.
More handwriting activities that you will love:
- Functional Handwriting Practice Ideas
- What is Visual Spacing
- Visual Tracking Tips and Tools
- Handwriting Spacing Tool and Spatial Awareness Tips and Tools
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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 email@example.com.