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 πŸ™‚
 
 
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.

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