Separation of the Sides of the Hand Activity

This simple activity is one that is designed to promote motoric hand separation.  This is a skill that is necessary for so many tasks!  From holding a pencil to cutting with scissors, to zippering a zipper, motoric separation of the two sides of the hand is an essential skill when it comes to fine motor skills
You see this positioning of the hand during one of the steps of zippering a jacket where the thumb and finger hold the zipper pull in place at the bottom of the zipper while the ulnar side of the hand holds the bottom of the zipper.


Separation of the sides of the hand activity for kids

Separation of the sides of the hand activity for helping kids improve fine motor skills needed for many functional tasks like fastening buttons or holding a pencil
This activity is one that kids will love.  The use of small sponge pieces promotes a tactile reminder to squeeze the individual fingers down into the palm, separating the ulnar side of the hand from the radial side.  
When kids write with a pencil, they need to hold and move the pencil with the thumb, pointer finger, and middle finger.  This precision side of the hand is used for fine motor movements and dexterity. 
Try this DIY Pick-Up Stick Activity to work on Precision Skills.
When writing, we use the power side of the hand, or the strength side of the hand to stabilize the hand during it’s motions. 
Try this Fine Motor Craft to work on Gross Motor Grasp Skills.

This Separation of the sides of the hand activity is fun when working on precision of grasp and strength of gross grasp skills needed for tasks like handwriting and holding a pencil.

Activity to Improve Motoric Separation of the Two Sides of the Hand

This activity is such a fun one for kids!  You’ll need just one material (and it can be used over and over again.)
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We used a kitchen sponge and cut it into small squares.  We used two different colored sponges, but you could use the same sponge and the same color squares. 
Simply cut the kitchen sponge into 1 inch x 1 inch pieces.  Next, wet the sponges.  Place one sponge square into the palm of the child’s hand.  Ask them to close their pinkie finger and ring finger around the sponge to hold it in place.  The sponge should not hold enough water so that it drips down the palm of the hand and wrist.  
For kids that need more cues to hold the ulnar side of the hand with closed fingers, you can add more water to the sponge.  When they squeeze the sponge down with the ring and pinkie fingers, the water will drip out of the sponge.
Next, use another sponge square in the remaining fingers (middle and pointer fingers and thumb).  The child can squeeze the sponge to remove water with just the precision fingers.  
To make this activity more difficult, add water to just one sponge while keeping the other sponge dry.  Then, ask them to squeeze the water from the wet sponge with the appropriate fingers.  This REALLY draws attention to the separation of the two sides of the hand!
Other ways to play with this activity while addressing separation of the sides of the hand:
  • Use a wet sponge to draw letters, numbers, or words on a large chalkboard.  
  • Draw with chalk on a sidewalk and then erase it with a wet sponge.
  • Water seedlings by squeezing water from the sponge.
  • Drip water designs on colored paper.
For more precision and gross motor grasp development, try this precision building activity to separate the two sides of the hand.

Separation of the Sides of the Hand Activities and Resources

Want to know more about what’s going on with bad pencil grasps and how to incorporate separation of the sides of the hand into handwriting and pencil grasps? This is a big part of a functional pencil grasp and efficient handwriting.

Join the Pencil Grasp Challenge to find out more on this functional skill.

The pencil grasp challenge is a free, 5 day mini course and challenge. During the course of five days, I’ll be teaching everything you need to know about the skills that make up a functional pencil grasp. You’ll learn what’s going on behind the inefficient and just plain terrible pencil grasps you see everyday in the classroom, clinic, or home. Along with loads of information, you’ll gain quick, daily activities that you can do today with a kiddo you know and love. These are easy activities that use items you probably already have in your home right now.

Besides learning and gaining a handful (pun intended) of fun ideas to make quick wins in pencil grasp work, you’ll gain:

  • 5 days of information related to pencil grasp, so you know how to help kids fix an immature pencil grasp.
  • Specific activities designed to build a functional pencil grasp.
  • Free printable handouts that you can use to share with your team or with a parent/fellow teachers.
  • You’ll get access to printable challenge sheets, and a few other fun surprises.
  • And, possibly the best of all, you’ll get access to a secret challengers Facebook group, where you can share wins, chat about all things pencil grasp, and join a community of other therapists, parents and teachers working on pencil grasp issues.

Click here to join the Pencil Grasp Challenge.

Colleen Beck, OTR/L is an occupational therapist with 20 years experience, graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 2000. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. As the creator, author, and owner of the website and its social media channels, Colleen strives to empower those serving kids of all levels and needs. Want to collaborate? Send an email to