Pencil Craft

Today, we have a fun pencil craft that is perfect for building skills. Why do I love these cut, color, and paste activities?  They are easy to use, motivating, and track progress in multiple areas at once.  Pencils are an essential tool in the life-long functional skill of handwriting. Today’s free download pencil craft is not just fun, it is a fun addition to a handwriting theme that fits in with the tools of the occupational therapy trade! 

This particular pencil craft template is a free resource, and one that includes a data collection section to make building on skill areas simple for occupational therapy interventions.

pencil craft

Pencil Craft

The pencil is a standard icon.  According to The History of Pencils, a single pencil has the potential to draw a line 35 miles long (!), write an average of 45,000 words, be sharpened 17 times, (have you ever thought about how many times you sharpen a pencil?!)…A pencil can delete its own errors and can beat out an infinite number of drum solos.   

One of the main tools in an occupational therapy provider’s toolkit is a pencil, be it the standard size, golf-sized pencils, colored pencils, grease pencils, or other types designed to target specific skills. Then, there are the pencil add-ons like different types of pencil grips, a variety of pencil topper fidgets, erasers, for example.

It is recognized and used world wide.  This pencil craft worksheet can be used as a stand alone activity, or part of a larger treatment plan. 

Use this pencil craft to target skills:

This color and cut pencil craft is adaptable to the needs of a variety of students, but using the color, cut, and build portion of pencil crafts like this one is more than just crafting fun.

Six reasons I use color, cut, and glue activities like this pencil craft:

  1. Children have the attention span of about two minutes, thus the activity has to be fast
  2. I need to gather as much data in the shortest amount of time that I can, due to point #1
  3. There are several teachable moments using activities like the pencil craft, but it has to be quick, again due to point #1
  4. Learners of all ages do not respond well to tasks that seem like work. Even the mention of work, sends a wail of protests. Crafts seem less like work than writing worksheets
  5. Learners respond better to activities that mean something.  Rote math problems, writing sentences, or coloring endless shapes are often meaningless.  A task that involves putting together parts to build something holds more meaning than your standard worksheets.
  6. Documentation standards.  There is such a push to gather data, record percentages, levels, progress, and skill acquisition, selecting the right task can be challenging.  This pencil craft includes documentation prompts, as well as a way to track data over time.

Not to mention- Occupational therapy’s history is founded in crafting! When we use functional, fun, and modern craft ideas in building skills, we are reflecting on the history of our profession!

What skills are addressed when completing the pencil craft?

  • Hand strength and dexterity – staying inside the lines while coloring builds hand muscles and develops muscle control. Cutting develops hand strength also.
  • Visual motor skills – (combining what is seen visually and what is written motorically).  It takes coordination to be able to translate information from visual input to motor output. Coloring, drawing, counting, cutting, and tracing are some visual motor skills.
  • Scissor skills – cutting on the line, within half inch of lines, or in the direction of lines can be ways to measure accuracy.  Also measure if you help the learner don scissors and if you add adaptations.
  • Pasting –  using glue stick or white glue.  White glue adds a hand strength and sensory component.
  • Visual Perception – Developing figure ground to see where one item starts and finishes, scanning to find all pieces, and visual closure to understand that the parts will create something. Figure ground, parts to whole, and visual closure are important to academic development
  • Sequencing – will your learner assemble the parts in order, or go in a haphazard pattern all over the page?   
  • Motor Planning– a cut and paste craft like this pencil activity supports development of motor skills in a functional crafting task.
  • Proprioception – adjusting the pressure on paper, grip on pencil
  • Bilateral coordination – remembering to use their “helper hand” to hold the paper while writing is important for development.  Using one hand as a dominant hand instead of switching back and forth is encouraged once a child is in grade school, or demonstrates a significant strength in one or the other
  • Strength – core strength, shoulder and wrist stability, head control, balance, and hand strength are all needed for upright sitting posture and writing tasks
  • Executive function, following directions, attention, attention to detail, focus, sequencing, planning, problem solving, task completion, neatness, impulse control, compliance, behavior, and work tolerance are all important skills to learn

Use a pencil craft in an OT lesson plan

How to incorporate this into a lesson plan

Any activity, including this pencil craft, can be used in isolation or as part of a larger lesson. These can be used in occupational therapy weekly lesson plans. The lessons may vary depending on the goals or subject matter. 

A few ideas that can be added to a pencil theme in therapy sessions:

  • Back to school – use tools from the OT Toolbox to build a back to school lesson plan
  • Pencil Control Exercises– Use these challenges to support motor planning and fine motor skills with different types of writing utensils.
  • Pencil grasp play ideas– Pick up a pencil and use these play ideas to support motor skills with a pencil!
  • Use this pencil I Spy slide deck to work on visual perception with a pencil theme.
  • Make a DIY pencil topper. This is a great activity that supports fine motor, visual motor, executive functioning skills, and more. Plus, users are motivated to use a pencil tool that supports their needs, especially when they’ve made the writing support themselves, supporting carryover of handwriting OT goals!
  • Have a fun pencil grip challenge- Explore different types of pencil grips. Try them each out, rank them on which one feels the best and “writes the best”! Kids love to rank toys or items and this one has so many hidden benefits! You can even create a school-wide or therapy-wide challenge. Make a bulletin board with the favorite pencil grip and see which one wins!
  • Or, have a pencil grasp challenge! Join in a 5 day series of motor challenge to develop the underlying components that are needed for a functional pencil grasp. This is a great series for therapy sessions, a classroom, or at home. Each challenge day includes information on what’s going on with pencil grasps, an exercise, and a handout with challenge activities.
  • Scissor Skills – The OT Toolbox has a 12 month Scissor Skills Home Program available for purchase or Members.  Or check out the Scissor Skills Book, if you need to brush up on your scissor teaching skills.
  • History of Pencils – Check out this blog on the history of pencils.
  • Have a 3 pencil challenge- You’ve heard of the 3 marker challenge, right? While we took it a step further and made it into a 3 crayon challenge, another expansion could be a 3 pencil challenge! Select 3 colored pencils from a bin or box of colored pencils. Then, use just those three pencils to color in a coloring page.
  • Use colored pencils (or regular pencils) to work on letter formation. Pencils are a great tool to work on pencil pressure when writing with a trick called “ghost writing“. Check it out in our YouTube video:

Lessons from a Pencil

I love adding this growth mindset aspect to a pencil theme. Specifically, targeting growth mindset mistakes is powerful with the concept of erasing mistakes and re-writing errors! Use these concepts while moving through the pencil craft activity!

A pencil can teach us…

  1. A pencil needs a hand to move- You will be able to do great things, but only if you allow yourself to be held in someone’s hand. You can leave a mark on the world if you’re willing to be held in someone’s hand and let them lead you down the right path.
  2. Pencils can be re-shaped- You might experience a painful sharpening from time to time, but you need it to become a better pencil. You can do great things by allowing yourself to be held in someone’s hand, but only if you’re willing to be sharpened. You might experience painful moments of being over-sharpened and placed aside, but they will make you stronger.
  3. Any mistakes you make can be corrected- Even though you may experience pain, it’s all worth it because it will make you better. Any mistakes you make can be corrected, just like sharpening a pencil. Every mistake is an opportunity to improve your next performance.
  4. The most important part of you is what’s on the inside- Just like the graphite on the inside of the pencil is the part that does the “work” that we see, what’s inside of us is what matters most! The most important part of you is what’s on the inside rather than what everyone else sees when they look at you. On every surface, leave your mark because that is who you are as an individual and no matter what condition you are in or what situations arise, continue to write!
  5. On every surface, you must leave your mark. So let that shine through onto every surface that crosses your path and leave an impression. No matter what the condition, continue to write!

Final Pencil Craft Points

Just like the end of a pencil is a point, here are a few final notes on our pencil craft…

Through writing this post on the pencil craft, I learned that anything and everything can be found on the internet!  This is marvelous and scary at the same time. 30 years ago I am quite certain I would not have easily found lesson plans on using a pencil as a theme, by walking into the library.  I am forever bemoaning the use of too much technology.  It is a double edged sword, but if you use a search as your guide, then print the resources to use real pencils, scissors, and glue, it can be a valuable resource.  Remind yourself, and those around you, of the benefit of real tools instead of iPads and computer generated programs. 

Pencil Craft Template

So, want to grab this printable pencil craft template to start building skills or use in a pencil theme? Enter your email address into the form below to access this resource. This printable is available inside our Membership Club under our Crafts section.

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FREE Pencil Craft

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    Victoria Wood, OTR/L is a contributor to The OT Toolbox and has been providing Occupational Therapy treatment in pediatrics for more than 25 years. She has practiced in hospital settings (inpatient, outpatient, NICU, PICU), school systems, and outpatient clinics in several states. She has treated hundreds of children with various sensory processing dysfunction in the areas of behavior, gross/fine motor skills, social skills and self-care. Ms. Wood has also been a featured speaker at seminars, webinars, and school staff development training. She is the author of Seeing your Home and Community with Sensory Eyes.

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