Pencil Control

Did you know pencil control is a huge part of handwriting legibility? Here, we’ll cover the definition of pencil control, how to impact this important handwriting skill, and strategies to make pencil movements fluent and dexterous using handwriting activities are all dedicated to improving pencil strokes needed for improved legibility. Be sure to check out these pencil control exercises we’ve previously shared.

What is Pencil Control?

Pencil control refers to the handwriting skill needed to hold and manipulate a pencil during handwriting tasks. Controlled pencil movements requires the ability to hold a pencil with a functional grasp during handwriting.

This includes underlying components such as sensory processing, visual motor and fine motor aspects in order to:

  • Manipulate the writing utensil within the hand
  • Efficiently and effectively stopping and starting on lines
  • Form letters including pencil turns in direction 
  • Managing minute pencil strokes within a given writing space
  • Writing at functional speeds
  • Moving the pencil within the hand to adjust or rotate the pencil
  • Moving the pencil within the hand to erase and then write again
  • Shifting the pencil up and down within the pencil grasp
  • Writing at an appropriate pencil pressure

All of these motor skills require control of the writing utensil, with input from the proprioceptive sensory system. Each area above requires fine motor skills.

Essentially, it is the development of pre-writing skills that enable control which allow a student to consistently write legibly even when required to write at faster writing speeds.

When those pre-writing skills are not established during the younger years, controlled pencil movements are an issue that impacts handwriting legibility in the older ages.

These are skills that should be incorporated into handwriting practice.

Pencil Control Worksheets

In pencil control worksheets, like in our Fine Motor Kits, you’ll discover many fine motor worksheets that can be used to work on controlled pencil movements, changes in direction, pencil pressure, and shift within the hand. These activities use a handwriting/fine motor worksheet to improve fine motor dexterity and pencil manipulation.

Pencil control worksheets on our site include:

Ideas for quick and easy ways to improve controlled pencil movements include:

Pencil control activities can help kids improve legibility during handwriting.


Pencil Control Activities 

Be sure to stop back to this page often, as more pencil precision activities will be added soon.

Working on dexterity and manipulation skills 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!
use graph paper to help kids work on visual motor integration skills and legibility through improved line awareness, letter formation, size awareness, spatial awareness, and handwriting neatness. 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.Work on handwriting with crayons using these easy precision of pencil control exercises. Kids love these ideas to work on fine motor skills and develop neat handwriting.!
Use foam sheets to work on letter formation with kids in this fun handwriting activity.Use this free pencil control exercise to help kids work on handwriting legibility.Use sandpaper as a strategy for helping kids to learn how to make letters, number formation, letter formation, spatial awareness, and line awareness in handwriting with a sensory, tactile, and proprioception activity.Work on handwriting skills like line awareness, letter formation, pencil control, spatial awareness, and bilateral coordination with tangle art!
Pencil control activities are beneficial for improving handwriting legibility.

Pencil skills are one of the main fine motor and precision skills addressed in our Fine Motor Kits. Each kit includes pencil precision worksheets that help with functional handwriting.

Working on fine motor skills, visual perception, visual motor skills, sensory tolerance, handwriting, or scissor skills? Our Fine Motor Kits cover all of these areas and more.

Check out the seasonal Fine Motor Kits that kids love:

Or, grab one of our themed Fine Motor Kits to target skills with fun themes:

Want access to all of these kits…and more being added each month? Join The OT Toolbox Member’s Club!

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