If you are looking for ways to work on handwriting legibility and pencil control, then you are in the right place. This Occupational Therapist loves to teach kids handwriting. Neatness counts when it comes to writing on the lines and being able to read that homework assignment a few hours into the nightly after-school ritual. Today, I’ve got one easy tip for helping kids to manage with pencil control in order to write on the lines at an age-appropriate speed. Add this pencil control activity to this list of pencil control exercises.
Combine this pencil control exercise with a Fruit Loop rainbow craft for more colorful fun.
Rainbow Pencil Control Exercises
With this activity, we’re working on keeping the pencil strokes within the lines of a small circle.
- First, draw a bunch of circles in different colors on a piece of paper. The circles should be 1/4 inch in diameter.
- Ask your child to fill in the circle with the matching colored pencil. A red circle should be filled in with the red colored pencil.
The objective here is to fill in the whole circle without going over the lines. Because the circle is so small, filling it in with the colored pencil requires very small muscle movements of the fingers.
A child who uses their wrist or forearm to write (such as a child using a grasp such as the thumb wrap grasp, for example, are over compensating for weakness and lack of endurance of the intrinsic musculature in the hand and utilizing a stabilizing grasp. This rainbow pencil control exercise strengthens dexterity, including range of motion in the thumb IP joint. Read more about the thumb IP joint and handwriting in a previous post.
This overcompensation does not allow fluid motions of the fingers when moving the pencil in handwriting. Because the circles are so small, the child can focus more on using the small motor motions to fill in the color.
More Pencil Control Exercises
Extend this activity to further your child’s fine motor skills and pencil control in handwriting:
- Ask your child to draw an “X” in each circle, without going over the lines.
- Ask your child to draw horizontal or vertical lines within each circle, much like we did here.
- Create a color coding activity: Match one circle color up with another pencil color. When you call out a color, your child can fill in that colored circle with a different, predetermined colored pencil. This is a test of visual scanning and quick thinking.
- Draw larger circles and show your child how to fill them in with strait pencil strokes.
- Work on pencil control strokes using the pages in our Colors Handwriting Kit
This rainbow handwriting activity is part of the Rainbow Activities for Kids series. Find more rainbow activities here:
FROM LEFT TO RIGHT:Rainbow in a Bag – No Mess Art // Powerful Mothering Rainbow Pasta Threading // Play and Learn
Everyday Rainbow Tinker Tray // Still Playing School How to Flip a
Rainbow | Simple Science for Kids // Lemon Lime Adventures Rainbow Sun Craft // Fairy Poppins Beginning Sound Rainbows // Playdough to Plato DIY Rainbow Crayon Names // Pre-K
Pages Rainbow Bear Color Matching Game
// Life Over Cs Rainbow
Marble Painting Process Art // Preschool Inspirations DIY Paper Plate Loom: Rainbow Yarn Art // Sugar Spice and
Glitter Rainbow Sight Words // The Kindergarten Connection Rainbow Math with a DIY Abacus // Fun-a-Day Simple Rainbow Sensory Bottle for Kids // Coffee Cups
and Crayons Roll a Rainbow // The STEM Laboratory
Looking for more handwriting ideas? Here are some of my favorites:
- Letter Formation Resistive Surface
- Letter Formation with Push Pins in a Can
- Cotton Swab Letters Lego Letters
- Handwriting Warm Up Exercises
- Handwriting on Foam Craft Sticks
- Nature Letters
- Motivating Handwriting Activities for Reluctant Writers
Rainbow Handwriting Kit– This resource pack includes handwriting sheets, write the room cards, color worksheets, visual motor activities, and so much more. The handwriting kit includes:
- Write the Room, Color Names: Lowercase Letters
- Write the Room, Color Names: Uppercase Letters
- Write the Room, Color Names: Cursive Writing
- Copy/Draw/Color/Cut Color Worksheets
- Colors Roll & Write Page
- Color Names Letter Size Puzzle Pages
- Flip and Fill A-Z Letter Pages
- Colors Pre-Writing Lines Pencil Control Mazes
- This handwriting kit now includes a bonus pack of pencil control worksheets, 1-10 fine motor clip cards, visual discrimination maze for directionality, handwriting sheets, and working memory/direction following sheet! Valued at $5, this bonus kit triples the goal areas you can work on in each therapy session or home program.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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