What is Finger Isolation?

finger isolation

Today’s post is all about finger isolation: what does finger isolation mean, why this fine motor skill is important, and even finger isolation exercises and activities to support precision and dexterity in the fingers. As children develop dexterity in fine motor skills, more precision and refined movements allow for coordinated skill work. It’s through this motor skill that one can do specific tasks that use only one finger or several fingers.

You may have heard of finger isolation as a component of fine motor skills that kids need for dexterity and precision. Today, we’re discussing this important motor skill, how finger isolation impacts function, and activities to build finger dexterity. So, what is this motor skill that allows us to point, hold up a single finger, or make fingerprints? Let’s discuss!

What is finger isolation? 

Finger isolation is the ability to isolate and use the fingers one at a time in functional tasks. The fine motor skill of finger isolation is the development of being able to “isolate” or individually use each finger of the hand. Counting one finger at a time, tying shoes, typing on a screen or computer keyboard, finger games like “Where is Thumbkin?”, and opposing one finger to the thumb are examples of finger isolation.

When children are developing they begin to use each finger individually; as infants, children tend to use the hand as one solid unit. Finger isolation is one of the first important developmental milestones that leads to children’s ability to write well with a pencil, type on a keyboard, play a musical instrument, tie shoes ect!

If you’re wondering how to see if your child has good finger isolation, you can ask yourself:  

  • Does your preschooler or kindergartner avoid pointing?
  • Do they tend to gesture in the direction of an object instead of pointing?
  • Do they use their whole hand to grasp objects rather than one or two fingers when that makes more sense for the size of the object?
  • Do they struggle to manipulate coins, turn a page of a book, tie shoes, or other task requiring refined movements?

Then adding a few finger isolation activities and games might be helpful for your child!

Development of finger isolation

Finger isolation typically develops in the baby at around 6 months of age as they begin to pick up small pieces of cereal. It progresses to pointing, and then separation of the two sides of the hand with in-hand manipulation. Finger isolation is so important in fine motor dexterity in every task that the hands perform.

There are other components of fine motor skills that contribute to the precision of isolating fingers in activities:

  • Separation of the sides of the hand- Separating the sides of the hand isolates the precision side of the hand from the power side of the hand allows for, and requires isolation of fingers and joints during motor tasks.
  • In-hand manipulation- In hand manipulation includes moving objects within the hand and refined isolation of digits and joints on the fingers contribute to this skill.
  • Arch development- This hand strength allows for fingers to move in isolation of one another.
  • Opposition- Finger and thumb opposition of the thumb to the fingers also plays a role in finger isolation. This ability to oppose the thumb to a single digit allows for more refined and precise grasps on objects.
  • Open thumb web space- Similarly, to oppose the thumb to the fingertips, an open thumb web space is necessary.

Finger Isolation and Screens (apps and games)

From a very young age, many small children are efficient at using tablets and phone apps with finger isolation to point, swipe, and move through images on the screen. However, when kids are scrolling the screen, and using their finger in isolation on a tablet, they typically use only one finger (the index finger OR the middle finger) and do not exert strength on the screen.  

They are not receiving feedback through the muscles and joints of the hand (proprioception) to build motor plans for fine motor tasks. They are not establishing a “store” of fine motor experiences.

You then may see that single finger is stronger and more dominant in tasks such as pencil grasp or tying shoes. This concept is similar to the dominance of a hand or side of the body. Equally of interest is this post on deciphering the difference between dominance and ambidextrous. It’s all related, and to the occupational therapy professional, so interesting to read about the connections!

Read here for more symptoms of too much screen time.

Finger isolation is a fine motor skill kids need for dexterity and precision. Here are ccupational therpay activities to work on fine motor skills.

Development of fine motor skills includes finger isolation. Here is more information on finger isolation for dexterity and motor control.

Finger Isolation Activities

So, how can you build and develop finger isolation?  There are many ways to build finger isolation skills. You’ll also find more finger isolation activities along with a craft that can help kids become more aware of this fine motor skill. Below are small motor tools to help with development. Add these finger strengthening exercises to your therapy plans or home programs.

One great way to develop precision in a single digit of the hand is to instruct the individual to tap each finger to their thumb (give them a demonstration so they can mirror you!),

Isolation of the individual fingers really develops with hand strength and coordination through the use of hand clapping games and finger rhyming songs. Show the individual finger and hand games such as “Where is Thumbkin?”, “Itsy Bitsy Spider”, and other rhyming games that involve hand motions.  

Overall, fingerplay songs are a powerful tool to support the development of finger isolation!

  • Pop bubbles
  • Play “I spy” with items around the house and encourage your child to point
  • Counting on fingers one at a time
  • “Itsy Bitsy Spider” (this is a great beginner motor plan with easy finger isolation hand motion)
  • Shadow hand puppets using a flashlight
  • Dampen fingers to pick up small items such as glitter, confetti, other small items
  • Teaching common finger expressions such as “A okay”, thumbs up, finger guns etc
  • “Lizard fingers”: this is one of my favorites that really makes kids laugh, stick small pieces of tape on each finger and have kids pretend to be a lizard and see what they can pick up around the room! (Make sure to have small items that can actually be picked up, we’ve had a couple failures with this activity!)

Other finger isolation ideas here on The OT Toolbox:

What is finger isolation? Use these button rings to work on using fingers one at a time in fine motor activities with kids!

Finger Isolation Crafts

  • Make and play with finger puppets
  • Finger painting
  • Using a pointer finger to trace shapes in foam, slime, various sensory mediums
  • Make “spaghetti” strings by rolling play-doh between the index finger and thumb
  • Make a “finger soccer board” by folding up a small piece of paper into a triangular shape and have your child “flick” the “ball” into the goal

If there is ever an easy craft that you and the kids make, this is it.  These button rings are as cute as they are effective in developing the skills needed for tasks like maintaining a pencil grasp, shoe tying, and managing clothing fasteners.

This post contains affiliate links.

You’ll need just a few items for this craft:


These super cute button rings are a craft that my kids loved making.  They wore these rings every day for a while there. (This mom did, too!)

What is finger isolation? Use these button rings to work on using fingers one at a time in fine motor activities with kids!

 

  1. To make the rings, cut the pipe cleaners into small pieces.  You’ll want them small enough to fit little fingers, but a little longer in order to add the buttons.
  2. Thread the buttons onto one end of the pipe cleaner.  
  3. Twist the two ends together and tuck the end of the pipe cleaner on the outside of the ring (so it won’t rub up against the skin).
  4. You can add extra buttons and layer different colored buttons for fun rings. 

Finger isolation activity with rings

  • When wearing the rings, incorporate finger isolation by placing rings on different fingers.  
  • Ask your child to hold up the finger with a specific colored button or pipe cleaner.  
  • Try tapping fingers with the rings one at a time by calling out a colored ring and asking your child to play a “SIMON” type of memory game.
What is finger isolation? Use these button rings to work on using fingers one at a time in fine motor activities with kids!

  You’ll love these fine motor activities, too:

Use these Fine Motor Kits for hands-on activity kits to develop fine motor skills, strength, dexterity, and manipulation. Kids LOVE these fine motor kits for the motivating activities. Therapists love them because it’s fresh, fun ways to work on pinch, grip, manipulation skills, and much more. Try some of these themed therapy kits:

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 contact@theottoolbox.com.

Types of Pencil Grips

Types of pencil grips

Pencil grips, pencil grips, pencil grips, there are so many types of pencil grips! Do I try this grip or that one? Does this child really need a pencil grip? Will they use this pencil grip? Will it be used correctly if they use it in the classroom? Ugh! So much to decide and so many variables to consider when it comes to handwriting. It is overwhelming! Does this sound like you in your practice as an OT? I’ve been there, and I’ve said these things to myself, and sometimes even to others. This post is here to help you decide what pencil grips to try and why!

Types of Pencil Grips

In this blog post, we’ll dive into pencil grips occupational therapy practitioners may offer as a tool to support handwriting needs.

We’ll address types of pencil grips (with links for purchase) and why each pencil grip is used.

Finally, we’ll cover a variety of related resources and activities to support the development of pencil grip use.

To further explore pencil grasp development, take a look at our blog post, Pencil Grasp Development and get this great Pencil Grasp Quick Visual Guide, which helps Occupational Therapists identify and explain grasp patterns, using pictures to educate, and explain how pencil grasps progress developmentally.

The visuals will help parents and teachers understand grasp development and the goals for an appropriate grasping pattern. My prediction is that these tools will help get buy-in from the educational team and the family. It helps them understand exactly where the child is developmentally and where you, as the OT, wants the learner to head, and why! 

pencil grips and Occupational Therapy

First, let me begin by saying that pencil grips are NOT a miracle cure for pencil grasp. They can help in certain circumstances based on the child’s individual needs.

Different types of pencil grips do not help to overcome the root of the inefficient grasp, as these issues must be addressed simultaneously, while implementing the gripper. 

In occupational therapy sessions, the OT practitioner is striving to achieve the most effective and functional pencil grasp for each individual. A therapist may have 40, 50, or even 70 students on their school-based OT caseload…and each student will be completely different when it comes to grasp patterns, pencil pressure, positioning of the fingers, preferences, letter formation strokes, executive functioning skills, self-regulation, visual motor skills, sensory preferences, and handwriting considerations. All of these areas play into handwriting.

To meet the needs of the individual student, a pencil grip may be supplied as a tool to support those individual needs.

Before we get into the various types of pencil grips you may see an occupational therapy practitioner recommend, it’s important to cover functional pencil grip.

Pencil grips are designed to support the most functional and efficient pencil grasp a child can achieve.

This is based on many factors including; their current skill level, motivation, and understanding that the pencil grasp should be efficient and effective, but NOT perfect.

Functional grasps have a few basic components, which include; an open web space, skill fingers holding the pencil (thumb, first, and middle fingers), and stability (achieved with the ring and little fingers being curled securely into the palm). This results in an efficient and functional tripod grasp for the most success with handwriting, drawing, and coloring.

Inefficient grasps are used as a child attempts to compensate for lack of stability, skill finger strength, and endurance. With this inefficient grasp comes fatigue, pain, stress on the joints, decreased writing speed and overall legibility.

A pencil grip may be a tool provided to support a functional pencil grasp, depending on the needs of the individual student.

Think of pencil grips as a supplemental tool to aid a child as they continue to work on building the hand and finger skills needed to achieve an independent and efficient grasp.

The type of pencil grip can also serve to support the child as they focus on the writing process, therefore not exhausting their thought and energy, trying to remember to grasp the pencil properly for the best function. 

The OT Toolbox has a great Pencil Grasp Bundle available for purchase to support various needs related to pencil grasp.

types of pencil grips

Now, without further ado, let’s proceed to types of pencil grips that most OTs recommend, what their purpose is, and why they are recommended!

Amazon affiliate links are included below for purchase of various types of pencil grips.

Sometimes the easiest way to ensure a better grip on a pencil is by getting a smaller pencil into those hands. Golf pencils are some of the best tools for smaller hands, as they are the right size. The use of larger pencils and crayons leads to compensatory grasping patterns, as they are too long and too heavy for little hands to grasp and hold for long periods of time.  A typical sized pencil in the hands of a child, is the equivalent of an adult trying to use a 12 inch pencil!

The physical size of hands and biomechanics of the muscles and joints in a child’s hand can’t possibly hold a large writing instrument unless they grasp it with compensatory efforts. This generally results in inefficient and ineffective grasps.  Younger learners have far more maladaptive pencil grasp patterns than older adults, due to the young age at which learners are instructed to write. 40 years ago, writing did not begin until first grade. That gave the hands time to develop. Now writing starts in the two year old class, or in preschool many times. It’s because of the early push to trace, copy, and write letters in preschool that we see poor pencil grips established.

The Pencil Grip

This grip, simply called “the pencil grip”, is an oldie, but a goodie for some children. It is designed to provide cushiony comfort, with proper finger placement indicators for left AND right-handed writers. The Pencil Grip helps learners gain improved pencil control, while reducing fatigue. This type of pencil grip supports an open web space and tripod grasp. The pencil grip comes in mini, standard, and jumbo sizes, making it available for a variety of children and adults. Recently, I have been unable to find the mini-sizes. 

The crossover grip

Honestly, this grip is essentially “The Pencil Grip”, with a wing on the front to help prevent the fingers and thumb from wrapping over the pencil shaft. This helps keep the web space open. The crossover grip will aid some children who do not have a strong thumb overwrap pattern yet. If their thumb overwrap is significant, this grip may not be the one for them, as it allows a wrap grasp with little resistance. It is cushiony and does not prevent the learner from wrapping their thumb over the material.

The Grotto Pencil grip

This type of grip is great for the children that have a thumb wrap grasp which closes up their web space. The Grotto Grip is not as cushiony as “The Pencil Grip”, but it is easier to use, as it has molded finger slots for the thumb and index fingers, and an indentation on the bottom for the grip to rest on the middle finger. It also has a wing on the front, and the material is stiffer in design, which can help aid in the prevention of any finger or thumb wrapping.

Left and right-handed writers can easily use the Grotto Grip, as the finger placement is exactly the same, making it less confusing for children to know where their fingers should be placed while using it. 

The Writing Claw pencil grip

This grip has three finger cups to support finger placement, and can be used by both left and right-handed writers with a simple change of finger placement within the cups. The finger placement indicators are on the bottom of each cup. The design leaves little room for error, and supports a variety of children, as it comes in three different sizes.

The Writing C.L.A.W. fits a wide variety of writing, drawing and coloring tools such as standard pencils, primary pencils, crayons, markers, and paint brushes!

Firesara Pencil Grip

This grip is similar to the Writing C.L.A.W. as it has two cups for the thumb and index fingers, but it has a ring for the placement of the middle finger. The Firesara Grip can easily be used by left and right-handed writers. Learners place their thumb and index fingers into the cups, and the middle finger goes into the ring finger of either hand.

Using this grip, helps the three fingers to be fixed tightly to the pencil shaft. The Firesara type of grip is made of soft, durable silicone.

Twist and Write pencil grips

The Twist n’ Write, also called the Rocket Pencil, is not a pencil grip, but a pencil that has a wishbone-shaped design. This helps fingers to be placed into a tripod grasp with little guidance. It has rubbery sides that double as erasers! The pencil twists at the bottom to push forward more lead. It needs a special tool to add more lead, which makes it a little less efficient for use. It is often easier to buy multiple pencils rather than trying to replace the lead. The pencil design is for not for tiny hands, but is effective for finger placement without the use of a pencil grip, making it more motivating to use.

The Twist n’ Write pencil can easily be used by left and right-handed writers. Some learners or teachers might not like the rocket pencil, because it looks so different from traditional pencils.

Handiwriter Pencil Grip

This is not really a type of grip, but rather a position support for the pencil. There are some children who hold the pencil vertically instead of at an angle, or have a thumb overwrap grasp with a closed web space. The Handiwriter positions the pencil at the correct angle within the hand. This pencil positioner helps to reposition the pencil within the web space, by pulling the pencil back into the web space, while promoting improved finger placement on the pencil shaft.

The “charm” on the commercially purchased Handiwriter is grasped by the ring and pinky fingers, and curled into the palm, providing increased hand stability. These can purchased as pictured, but can also be made with or without the charm support, by using two terry cloth hair bands using these directions, or by following the visual sequence for creating one using elastic bands. 

Stylus with pencil grip attached

You can put a grip on an existing tablet stylus, or buy get his great stylus that has a gripper on it! I tried this device with some of the kiddos I work with, and it worked well with the added index finger placement into the cup that is on the shaft of the stylus.

The Write Right Stylus will only work if the index finger is properly placed into the cup, and ensures proper positioning when using a tablet or screen for writing tasks. This placement helps to promote a tripod grasp. The symmetrical design allows it be used by left and right-handed writers. 

Stetro Pencil Grip
  • Stetro– This pencil grip is efficient when The Pencil Grip is too large and the individual benefits from a smaller “target” to pinch the pencil.
Traditional triangle pencil grip
  • Traditional Triangle– the Traditional triangle grip is a common pencil grip that is offered to the whole classroom from teachers, parent teacher groups, or in back-to-school kits. The triangular sides offer a flat placement for the fingers, but this grip may not work for all individuals. One therapy tip is to cut the triangle grip in half or in thirds and use the triangular ridges as bumps on the pencil to stop the fingers from moving too close to the pencil point. This way the ridges bring awareness for placement.

  • Weighted pencil grips- Pencils with weighted added on are typically an adaptation to support specific needs related to tone, proprioceptive sensory input, tremors. Read about pencil pressure and the benefit of adding a weighted pencil grip for more information.
Classic foam pencil grip

Adaptice Pencil Grips

The alternative pencil grasp pattern that is successful for many kiddos who simply cannot achieve an efficient grasp is use of an adaptive tripod grasp, or any grasp which enables a functional grip on the pencil.

For those struggling to manipulate, use, position, and write with a pencil grip during written output, sometimes an alternative grip is the answer.

There are several alternative grasps for pencil manipulation.

The Adaptive Tripod Grip is appropriate to use when low muscle tone or hyper mobility of the finger joints limits pinching and manipulating the pencil.

It is easy to achieve, and I often use it if I am writing a lot. My husband uses it all of the time, and has since grade school.

In the adaptive tripod grasp, the child places the pencil between the index and middle fingers rather than within the traditional web space. They grasp the pencil shaft with the thumb, index, and middle fingers. The placement of the pencil between the index and middle fingers provides ample support and stability allowing for good pencil control, and less hand and finger fatigue. 

This grasp pattern is similar to the “Rocket Pencil” described above. This can be used with different types of pencil grips if needed. 

When pencil grips are uncomfortable

One final note on the use of pencil grips, they WILL be uncomfortable to use at first. Learners are having to utilize the correct finger and hand muscles.

They are not used to using them in this way, therefore they will be uncomfortable and met with resistance. With this discomfort comes less motivation and desire to use.

Rest assured, the use of the right pencil grip, when coupled with the activities you are using to get to the root of the problem, will help.

Be patient, encouraging, and rewarding to your learners, as they work on these skills. A good grasping pattern will be essential later in school, as handwriting tasks become longer and more complex. You are supporting their present AND future success! 

Pencil Grip Kit

Here is an OT tip just for you! Create a pencil grip kit as pictured below. This will serve you coordinate an approach to determining the best pencil grip for any learner. You will have children that the typical grip will not work for, and you’ll need that one rarely used grip just for them! Have it on hand!

Below is a picture of my own pencil grip kit, which I have used with kiddos to help determine which one is the best grip for them. You can buy pencil grip kits on Amazon that come with several different types of grips.

Make a pencil grip kit for occupational therapy sessions.

Pencil Grip Activities

Be sure to check out our FREE Pencil Grasp Challenge . This is a 5-day email series that will provide you with loads of information about everything you need to know about the skills that make a functional pencil grasp. You will gain quick, daily activities that you can do with learners to help them right now.

Explore the other blog posts we have here at The OT Toolbox regarding pencil grasps by reviewing the convenient list of these just for you:

Regina Allen

Regina Parsons-Allen is a school-based certified occupational therapy assistant. She has a pediatrics practice area of emphasis from the NBCOT. She graduated from the OTA program at Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute in Hudson, North Carolina with an A.A.S degree in occupational therapy assistant. She has been practicing occupational therapy in the same school district for 20 years. She loves her children, husband, OT, working with children and teaching Sunday school. She is passionate about engaging, empowering, and enabling children to reach their maximum potential in ALL of their occupations as well assuring them that God loves them!

Pincer Grasp Activities

pincer grasp activities

Pincer grasp and neat pincer grasp are precision fine motor skills that develop when babies start to pick up cereal in self-feeding.  The developmental skill is essential for development of fine motor skills and manipulation of toys and items in play and discovery.  These neat pincer grasp activities are creative ways that can help kids develop the small motor skill area.


Pincer Grasp

 

Neat pincer grasp activities for kids to develop dexterity and fine motor skills.



Neat Pincer Grasp Activities

Neat pincer grasp uses the tips of the thumb and pointer finger to stabilize objects.  When using a pincer grasp, children use the pads of the thumb and finger to stabilize the object.  

Pincer grasp develops around 9-12 months of age.  Neat pincer grasp develops between 12-18 months and is a much finer skill.

What is Neat Pincer Grasp?

Neat pincer grasp is used to pick up very small items such as perler beads, a thread from a surface, or a needle.  You might see the tip-to-tip grasp to pick up a sequin or fuzz from clothing.


Think about the “ok” sign with the thumb and pointer finger touching and a nice round “O” in the thumb web space.  That tip-to-tip pinch is neat pincer grasp.


If neat pincer grasp is not developed, kids can potentially present with less thumb IP joint flexion and difficulty opening the thumb web space when manipulating very small items.  This can lead to fumbling and decreased dexterity during fine motor tasks.


This post contains affiliate links.


Ways to build pincer grasp:



Pick up sequins.
Pick up toothpicks.
Stick embroidery thread to contact paper.  Then pick up back up.
Peel tape.  Try this process art activity to stick and peel paint to address neat pincer grasp for fine motor skills.
Pick up and peel stickers.
Pick up and use very small beads like these 2 mm. glass beads in crafts.
Make crafts with fishing line.
Create string art.
Try peeling tape in a group activity.
Pick up small pasta in a sensory play activity.
Pick up and manipulate pasta in a fine motor color match activity with play dough.
Thread feathers.
Pick up grass seed to work on letter formation. (Grass seed is very small!)
Play with clothes pins to work on grasp.
Drop thread into a sensory bottle.

 

Neat pincer grasp activities for kids to develop dexterity and fine motor skills.



More fine motor skills you will love to explore:

 

 Pincer grasp fine motor activity
 
 

 

Neat Pincer Grasp Fine Motor Activity Buttoning Tips and Tricks https://www.theottoolbox.com/2015/11/benefits-of-playing-with-stickers-occupational-therapy.html
 
 
 
 


In the Fine Motor Kits here on our website, you’ll find many precision activities that support development of pincer grasp. Specifically, there are tearing activities, crumbling activities, pinch activities, and other hand strengthening activities using themed fine motor activities.

Use these Fine Motor Kits for hands-on activity kits to develop fine motor skills, strength, dexterity, and manipulation. Kids LOVE these fine motor kits for the motivating activities. Therapists love them because it’s fresh, fun ways to work on pinch, grip, manipulation skills, and much more. Try some of these themed therapy kits:

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 contact@theottoolbox.com.

Beaded Feather Fine Motor Activity

beaded feathers fine motor activity

This beaded feather activity is a fine motor task that we created YEARS ago. WE love it because beads and feathers are common craft materials found in many pediatric occupational therapy professionals’ therapy toolbox. In fact OTs love crafts as a fine motor strategy and this feather bead activity is a powerhouse!

Beaded Feather Activity

If you need a quick and easy little activity for the kids while you are making dinner, or just something fun for the kids to keep practice a few fine motor skills, then this is a great activity for you.  Simple to set up and easy to clean up, this one will get those little muscles going and moving with fine motor dexterity!
 


Beading with feathers

This activity works on several grasps, color awareness, counting, sorting, visual scanning, and eye-hand-coordination.  How can you beat such an easy activity with so many benefits??  

 

 
Fine motor activity for kids using beads and feathers.
 
 
 
This post contains Amazon affiliate links.
 
You’ll need just two craft materials for this fine motor activity:
 

 

 

 
 
Preschoolers and Toddlers can match beads to feathers to learn colors.
 
Get your feathers and some coordinating beads and lay them out on the table.  I started a few feathers to show the kids what we were doing and had the invitation to start ready to go. 
 
They came over to check it out and would bead a bit here and there throughout the day.  It was kind of like a therapeutic little break from bouncing off of couch cushions and each other. 
 
Their little bodies needed a chance to slow down and re-group before getting back into the routine of regularly scheduled chaos.
 
But maybe that’s just my kids?
  
Sorting colored beads to match colored feathers is a fun way to learn colors.

 

Pincer Grasp Activity With Beads and Feathers

You could also put out a big old tray of all kinds of beads with different colors, shapes, sizes to work with. 
 
This slightly makes the activity just a little more difficult as the child has to visually scan for the colors needed and pick out the beads that they want with a neat pincer grasp
 
Using the tips of the index finger and the thumb in a precision grasp to manipulate beads from a big tray of colors is great for eye-hand coordination
 
Want more ideas to work on neat pincer grasp or eye hand coordination?  We’ve got plenty!
 
Threading colored beads on feathers is a great way for prechoolers and toddlers to work on colors and fine motor skills.

 

Beading Feathers Bilateral Coordination Activity

Holding the feather and the beads requires two hands to work together in a coordinated way (bilateral hand coordination). 
 
This is a great way to practice pre-writing skills and those requirements needed for self- care like managing buttons, zippers, shoe-tying, and scissor skills.
 
Beads and feathers are a fun way to practice colors and fine motor skills with kids.

 

Bead Feathers to learn colors


Younger children (Baby Girl is just getting this!)  can learn colors and practice naming colors as they pick out the beads and match to the color of the feather. 

How many other ways can you think of to make this a learning opportunity? 

Patterns, sorting, counting…this is a fun learning op and a great way to get those little hands moving!


                                Kids can work on fine motor skills and color matching awareness while beading feathers.

 

Fine motor activity for kids using beads and feathers.
 
 
More Fine Motor activities you will love:
 
 

 

The beaded feather activity and the other fine motor tasks listed above are a great addition to our popular Fine Motor Kits:

Use these Fine Motor Kits for hands-on activity kits to develop fine motor skills, strength, dexterity, and manipulation. Kids LOVE these fine motor kits for the motivating activities. Therapists love them because it’s fresh, fun ways to work on pinch, grip, manipulation skills, and much more. Try some of these themed therapy kits:

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 contact@theottoolbox.com.

Robin Craft Fine Motor Activity

Robin craft with egg cartons

This robin craft is a fun activity for Spring that develops fine motor skills, bilateral coordination, eye-hand coordination, and precision skills. This is the perfect addition to the occupational therapist’s Spring fine motor activities and a great tool for kids to make that they also use to work on skills in occupational therapy. Plus, the worm activity is just fun for kids! Use this egg carton craft to work on so many fine motor skills

This egg carton robin craft is a fine motor activity kids can make.

Robin Craft with an Egg Carton

Spring and Robins go hand in hand.  We made this Robin craft as a Spring Fine Motor activity one day and the kids were giddy with excitement to play!      

Robin craft for counting worms is a fine motor activity busy bag

This robin craft is a busy bag type of activity will keep the kids busy and little fingers moving as they count worms to feed the Spring robins.  

This egg carton family of robins was fun to make with the kids and even more fun to watch them play.


This post contains affiliate links.

Paint an egg carton to make a robin craft

Robin Craft Fine MOtor Activity

  This Spring craft for occupational therapy actually uses a recycled cardboard egg carton. There are many ways to use recycled materials in crafts and activities that develop skills. This is just one fun idea.

Time needed: 20 minutes.

How to make a robin craft with an egg carton

  1. Start with an egg carton.

    We used a cardboard carton so the paint would stick. You’ll need a clean and dry egg carton. Cut off the lid off the egg carton. You’ll want to keep the egg sections for this robin craft.

  2. Paint the egg carton.

    Paint a red belly on each egg compartment.  Paint the sides and back of each robin with brown paint. You can paint the whole egg section or you can leave a space at the top to add a number, depending on if you are making a family of robins, or each student is making a single robin.Paint egg cartons to make a robin craft

  3. Punch a hole in each egg carton compartment.

    Use a hole punch to punch a hole towards the top of the robin. This will be the beak of the robin, and where students will “feed” pipe cleaner worms to feed the birds. Little Guy (age 5) got a big kick with this part.  He wasn’t able to squeeze the hole puncher to make the holes, but he really liked watching!  

  4. Make paper beaks for the robin craft.

    Cut small triangles from yellow cardstock.  Drag the wide end of the triangles in glue and press into the holes.  These will be the beaks for the robins.  Let the glue dry.  Punch holes in egg cartons and make paper beaks for a robin craft

  5. Make pipe cleaner worms!

    Cut brown pipe cleaners into small sections. The worms can be as small as an inch or two or much longer. Show the student how to bend the pipe cleaner slightly to create wiggly worms. This is a simple worm craft of it’s own! This is also a great bilateral coordination and scissor skill activity for Spring. Kids love making pipe cleaner worms!Cut brown pipe cleaners to make worms for a robin craft

  6. Draw Eyes on the Egg carton robins.

    Use a permanent marker to make two small dots for eyes for the robins. You can also add a number on the top of each robin.  Now it’s time to count and play!  Robin craft made from egg cartons

   Now it’s time to play and feed the robins!

Pipe Cleaner Worm Craft

Three is just something about those pipe cleaner worms. Kids love making them and using them to feed the robins. Let’s take a look at skills that are being developed with this fine motor task.

Little Guy enjoyed cutting pipe cleaners and bending them into little bendy worms. Cutting and bending the pipe cleaners is a bilateral coordination task that requires using both sides of the body with different motor plans and degrees of strengthening. This task is a great one for building motor plans and focusing on graded strength.

Cutting the pipe cleaners is a scissor skills task that requires and develops hand strength. What a great hand strengthening activity this is!  Squeezing the scissors requires a lot of hand strength to snip the pipe cleaners.  

Robin egg carton craft and fine motor activity for Spring.

  Make a bunch of worms; You will need them!  

Feed the robin egg carton craft

  Feed the Robins Craft

If you draw numbers on the top of each robin, you can feed each bird the correct number of worms. But, if you are working with a whole caseload or class of students, collecting many egg cartons can be difficult. You could always use just one egg carton section for each student so they have their own individual bird craft to make and feed.

In that case, skip adding a number to the top of the egg carton. Users can roll a dice and feed the bird that number of pipe cleaner worms.

Fine motor activity with egg carton robins

This activity builds several fine motor skill areas:

  • Eye-hand coordination
  • Bilateral coordination
  • Separation of the sides of the hand
  • Pincer grasp to pick up the pipe cleaner
  • Tripod grasp, or a refined tip to tip grasp to thread the pipe cleaner into the bird
  • In-hand manipulation- Pick up several pipe cleaners at once and hold them in the palm of the hand. Then, feed one worm pipe cleaner at a time to “feed the robin”!

 

Robin Math Activity

To expand on the eye-hand coordination skill work, and to make this a great multisensory learning activity, use this as a one-to-one correspondence task for preschoolers. Young children can count the number of pipe cleaner worms, match the number to the works, and build pre-writing skills through play.

Little Sister (age 3.5) counted out the number of worms for each bird (She needed help with one-to-one correspondence).  She was able to press the worms into the robin mouths using a tripod grasp.  

It was fun to watch her play and count for a long time.  I overheard a little dramatic play happening as she talked to the robins and pretended they were a family eating their lunch.    

Use the Robin Craft to Build Skills Over and Over Again

This egg carton robin was a tool we made once and then used over and over again, making it a great fine motor activity for the occupational therapy toolbox.

Use it in a robin sensory bin! Add the pipe cleaner worms to a sensory bin and kids can find the worms and then feed them into the robin. There are so many ways to build skills with this one craft.

 
 
 
 

Spring Fine Motor Kit

Score Fine Motor Tools and resources and help kids build the skills they need to thrive!

Developing hand strength, dexterity, dexterity, precision skills, and eye-hand coordination skills that kids need for holding and writing with a pencil, coloring, and manipulating small objects in every day task doesn’t need to be difficult. The Spring Fine Motor Kit includes 100 pages of fine motor activities, worksheets, crafts, and more:

Spring fine motor kit set of printable fine motor skills worksheets for kids.
  • Lacing cards
  • Sensory bin cards
  • Hole punch activities
  • Pencil control worksheets
  • Play dough mats
  • Write the Room cards
  • Modified paper
  • Sticker activities
  • MUCH MORE

Click here to add this resource set to your therapy toolbox.

Spring Fine Motor Kit
Spring Fine Motor Kit: TONS of resources and tools to build stronger hands.

Grab your copy of the Spring Fine Motor Kit and build coordination, strength, and endurance in fun and creative activities. Click here to add this resource set to your therapy toolbox.

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 contact@theottoolbox.com.

Pencil Pressure When Writing

If you’ve worked with kids teaching handwriting or fixing handwriting issues, they you probably have come across a common handwriting problem area…Pencil pressure when writing. Handwriting pressure can play a huge role in legibility, whether pressing too hard when writing or writing too lightly. 

Pencil Pressure in Handwriting

Some kids press too hard on the pencil. They may press so hard on the pencil that the pencil tears the paper when they write. When they try to erase, there are smudges that never really go away.

Other students use too little force when writing. Or, you might see pencil pressure that is so light that you can’t discern letters from one another.

Either way, pencil pressure plays a big part in handwriting legibility.

Here are tips for pressing too hard when writing…and tips for helping kids write darker. Scroll down for everything you need to know about writing with that “just write” pencil pressure…Typo intended  🙂

These writing tips are great for kids that press too hard when writing or write too lightly.

 

Pencil Pressure with Writing

Learning to write is a complex task.  Choosing a hand to hold the pencil with, pencil grasp, managing the paper with the assisting hand, sitting up straight.

And then there is the physical task of marking letters: letter formation, line awareness, letter size… this is multi-level functioning for a child!  

Yet another aspect to consider is the pressure one exerts on the paper when writing.  Press too lightly and the words are barely able to be seen.  Press too hard, and the letters are very dark, the pencil point breaks, lines are smudged, and when mistakes are erased, they don’t really erase all the way, the paper tears, and frustration ensues!  

Sometimes, when it comes to pencil pressure, simply helping kids become aware that they are writing too lightly or writing with too much pressure can make a big difference. Here is one simple activity to work on pencil pressure. All you need is a sheet of foam crafting paper. 

Pencil pressure is dependent on proprioception, one of the sensory systems.  With October being Sensory Processing Awareness month, this is the perfect time to talk sensory and handwriting!
 
As an occupational therapist in the school setting, I’ve come across many school-aged children showing difficulty with pencil pressure.  There are reasons for these dark pencil marks and some tips and tools for helping with this handwriting difficulty. 

 

 
Tips and tools for kids who write with too much pressure in handwriting.  Does your child write or color so hard that the pencil breaks?  Writing too hard makes handwriting difficult to read and effectively write.
 
 
 
This post contains affiliate links.  

 

Proprioception and Handwriting


The proprioceptive system receives input from the muscles and joints about body position, weight, pressure, stretch, movement and changes in position in space.  Our bodies are able to grade and coordinate movements based on the way muscles move, stretch, and contract. 

Proprioception allows us to apply more or less pressure and force in a task. Instinctively, we know that lifting a feather requires very little pressure and effort, while moving a large backpack requires more work.  

We are able to coordinate our movements effectively to manage our day’s activities with the proprioceptive system.  The brain also must coordinate input about gravity, movement, and balance involving the vestibular system.


When we write, the pencil is held with the index finger, middle finger, and thumb, and supported by the ring and pinkie finger as the hand moves across a page.  

A functioning proprioceptive system allows us to move the small muscles of the hand to move the pencil in fluid movements and with “just right” pressure.  

We are able to mark lines on the paper, erase mistakes, move the paper with our supporting arm, turn pages in a notebook fluidly, and keep the paper in one piece.

Heavy Pencil Pressure

When students press too hard on the pencil, handwriting suffers. Sometimes, children hold their pencil very tightly. Other times, they are seeking sensory feedback.  You’ll see some common signs of heavy pencil pressure:

  • They press so hard on the paper, that lines are very dark when writing.  
  • The pencil point breaks.  
  • When erasing, the pencil marks don’t completely erase, and the paper is torn.  
  • The non-dominant, assisting hand moves the paper so roughly that the paper crumbles.  
  • When turning pages in a notebook, the pages tear or crumble.
  • Movements are not fluid or efficient. 
  • Handwriting takes so much effort, that the child becomes fatigued, frustrated, and sore.  
  • It may take so much effort to write a single word, that handwriting is slow and difficult. 

All of these signs of heavy pencil pressure are red flags for pencil pressure issues. They are not functional handwriting

Below, we’ll cover ways to reduce  pencil pressure? 

Writing Pressure: Too Light

The other side of the coin is pencil pressure that is too light.

Writing with too little pencil pressure is another form of non-functional handwriting. Some signs of too little pencil pressure include:

  • Kids may write so lightly that you can’t read the overall writing sample.
  • You can’t discern between certain letters.
  • The writing pressure is just so light that the child’s hand or sleeve smudges the pencil lines and the writing sample is totally not functional or legible.
  • The student starts out writing at a legible pencil pressure, but with hand fatigue, the writing gets lighter and lighter.

All of these signs of too light pencil pressure and too much force when writing can be addressed with some simple tips. Working on proprioceptive input and hand strengthening can help with too light pencil pressure. Try some of the writing tips listed below.

Pencil pressure and Messy handwriting

Messy handwriting can be contributed to many factors.  Decreased hand strength, Visual motor difficulty, motor planning issues, visual memory difficulties, or impaired proprioception. 

Difficulty with grading the movements required in drawing or making letters in a coordinated way may present as messy, smudged, illegible handwriting.
 

Writing Tips for Pencil Pressure

Bringing the writer aware of what’s occurring is one way to support pencil pressure issues. Proprioceptive activities allow the muscles to “wake up” with heavy pressure.

Moving against resistance by pushing or pulling gives the muscles and joints an opportunity to modulate pressure.  

Resistive activities before and during a handwriting task can be beneficial for children who press hard on the pencil. 

 

Pencil Pressure Activities:

Some of these pencil pressure activities are writing strategies to help kids become more aware of the amount of pressure they are using when writing.

Others are tools for helping the hands with sensory needs. Still others are tools for strengthening the hands. Try some or a mixture of the following ideas to addressing handwriting needs.

  • Stress balls or fidget toys can help to strengthen pinch and grip strength. 
  • Use carbon paper or transfer paper to help kids become more aware of the amount of pressure they are exerting through the pencil when writing. Here is some easy ways to use a Dollar Store find to use carbon paper to work on handwriting
  • resistive bands- Use these as an arm warm-up to “wake up” the muscles of the whole upper body. They are great for positioning warm ups too. 
  • theraputty with graded amount of resistance (speak to a license occupational therapist about the amount of resistance needed for your child. An individual evaluation and recommendations will be needed for your child’s specific strengths/needs). 
  • Gross grasp activities- These activities can be a big help in adjusting the grasp on the pencil, helping the hands with sensory input and strengthening the hands to help with endurance when writing. 
  • Some children will benefit from using a liquid gel pen for fluid handwriting marks. The gel ink will provide feedback when gobs of ink are dispensed when writing too hard.
  • Still others will benefit from a gel pen, marker, or using a dry erase marker on a dry erase board. This can be beneficial as a tool for teaching about pencil pressure or as an accommodation for those writing too lightly.
  • Pencil Weights or Weighted Pencils- Weighted pencils can be helpful in providing sensory feedback through the hands.
  • A vibrating pen provides sensory feedback to the fingers and hand and helps to keep children focused on the task. 
  • Practice handwriting by placing a sheet of paper over a piece of sandpaper. The resistance of the sandpaper is great heavy work for small muscles of the hand. 
  • Practice writing on a dry erase board with dry erase markers to work on consistent pencil pressure- Pressing too hard will make the marker lines wider and press down on the tip of the marker. Can the learner keep a consistent line with their writing or drawing?
  • Use a grease pencil- These pencils are commonly used to marking wood or used in construction. The lead of the pencil is very soft and can be a great alternative for those that press too hard on pencils.
  • Cheap eyeliner pencil- One cheap alternative to a grease pencil is using an inexpensive eye liner pencil from the dollar store. Get the kind that you sharpen with a turn sharpener (almost like a hand held pencil sharpener). Kids can use that pencil to draw lines and match the amount of pressure they are using. This is a good activity for those that press too hard when writing, too.
  • Practice Ghost Writing: Encourage the child to write very lightly on paper and then erase the words without leaving any marks. The adult can try to read the words after they’ve been erased. If the words are not able to be read, the writer wins the game. 
  • Hand exercises are a great way to “wake up” the hands before a handwriting task. Encourage the child to squeeze their hand into a fist as tight as he can. Then relax and stretch the hand and fingers. Repeat the exercise several times. Practice holding the pencil with the same type of tight and relaxed exercises Practice writing on tissue paper. A very light hand is needed to prevent tears. Discuss the amount of pressure needed for writing on the tissue paper. 
  • This will provide the child with awareness and words for the way they are holding the pencil. 
  • Wrap a bit of play dough or putty around the pencil as a grip. Encourage the child to hold the pencil with a grasp that does not press deeply into the dough. Encourage using a “just right” pressure. 
  • Provide terms for they way they write. Encourage “just right” writing and not “too hard” or “too soft” marks. 
  • Use a lead pencil to color in a small picture, using light gray, medium gray, and dark gray. Talk about how using different amounts of pressure changes the shade of gray. 
  • Instead of writing on a notebook, pull a single sheet from the pages and place on a hard table or desk surface. The firm surface will limit the amount of pressure. You can also slip a clipboard between pages of a notebook to provide that hard surface, if sheets must remain in a notebook.
 
Help kids with pencil pressure and handwriting problems with these writing tips to work on heavy pencil pressure or writing too light.

Need more tips and tools for addressing handwriting needs? Be sure to check out all of our handwriting activities here on The OT Toolbox.

More Handwriting Tips

For a comprehensive resource on handwriting, check out The Handwriting Book. This e-book was written by pediatric occupational therapists and physical therapists who focus on function and take a developmental look at handwriting.

In The Handwriting Book, you’ll find practical suggestions to meet all needs that arise with messy or sloppy handwriting. The developmental-based approach to teaching handwriting focuses on strategies to support common issues with written work.

Click here for more information on The Handwriting Book.

The handwriting Book

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 contact@theottoolbox.com.

Make a Play Dough Snake to Build Fine Motor Skills

play dough snakes

If you’ve ever played with Play Doh then you may have made a play dough snake. But did you ever stop and think about the various fine motor skills being developed with that simple play dough creature? Here we have a super simple and fun activity using play dough and rocks: Making play dough snakes! When you make a play dough snake so many skills are developed.

play dough snakes are an easy way to work on fine motor skills with kids.

Play Dough Snakes

We are big fans of play dough.  Adding in fun little extras (like making play dough snakes!) is a great way to keep it interesting, and get those fingers moving with fine motor work.  We shared a picture of this activity on Instagram and it was such a hit, that we had to share our play in a blog post!  We used regular play dough this time, but a batch of homemade play dough recipe would be perfect for this activity, too. 

The thing is that Play Doh snakes can be made with any type of play dough, homemade dough, slime, or even kinetic sand.

{This post contains affiliate links.  

Play Dough Snakes and Fine Motor Skills

Baby Girl loved this!!  I pulled out a few colors of play dough and a basket of  River Rocks.  She got started sorting, picking out her favorites, and pushing them into the play dough. 

I showed her how to roll a play dough snake to really work on those fine motor skills. 

By rolling a snake from playdough, so many fine motor skills are developed:

Pinching those play dough snakes and pressing the stones into the play dough really works the intrinsic muscles of the hand, and upper body strength.  It’s a fun way to practice tripod grasp, too.

How to Make a Play Dough Snake

To roll a play dough snake, all you need is a lump of play dough. Then, follow these directions to support fine motor skill development:

  1. Use both hands to roll play dough on the table surface. Both hands should work symmetrically together (bilateral coordination)
  2. As the play dough is rolled, it gets longer.
  3. Use varying amounts of pressure through the palms of the hands to make sure the play dough snake is even. (Graded pressure)
  4. As the playdough snake gets longer and thinner, use the finger tips to roll with more precision. (Precision skills)

Rolling a snake from play dough is a great way to strengthen the muscles of the hands, lengthen the muscles inside the hand (intrinsics), and work on grasp, and finger isolation.

Here is another way to work on intrinsic strength using play dough.

 I made a play dough snake and pressed rocks along the length.  Baby Girl watched and started making her own. 

More skills with Play Dough Snakes

After you’ve made a few snakes from play dough, you can continue the skill-building.

Freeze the play dough to make a stronger resistance. Freezing play dough for heavy work play is a great opportunity to challenge fine motor skills and add more resistive feedback through the hands.

Cut the Play Dough Snake- After you have a nice long ribbon of playdough created, use scissors to create marks along the length. Cut the play dough snake along those textured marks to work on scissor skills and visual motor skills. The play dough offers great feedback through the hands.

Add rocks to the play dough snake- Pushing the rocks into the play dough is a great fine motor proprioception activity.  This resistive activity really “wakes up” the small muscles in the hands.  What a great way to warm up the hands before a handwriting activity for older kids.  Proprioception activities like this one are a good way to calm and organize your child.  This activity would be a great addition to a Sensory Diet or a Sensory Lifestyle.  

We made our snakes into faces, too. I made a play dough face and Baby Girl was able to copy one to make her own.  We talked about all of the parts of the face.  Such a fun way to play and learn!

  After she made her play dough face, she made them talk to each other…”hi, how are you…” and conversation back and forth.  Language development is fun with play dough!

These cuties were best buds by the time we were done!

Let us know if you do this activity at your home or school. 

 

 
Create and explore proprioception with kids in this fine motor activity with play dough
 
 
 

 

More play dough ideas you may like:

 

Use these Fine Motor Kits for hands-on activity kits to develop fine motor skills, strength, dexterity, and manipulation. Kids LOVE these fine motor kits for the motivating activities. Therapists love them because it’s fresh, fun ways to work on pinch, grip, manipulation skills, and much more. Try some of these themed therapy kits:

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 contact@theottoolbox.com.

Welcome to the Pencil Grasp Challenge!

Use these pencil grasp activities to help build the fine motor skills kids need for handwritng

I am SO excited about this challenge. What is the Pencil Grasp Challenge? Well, if you know a child who struggles with pencil grasp, holds the pencil with a tight or inefficient grip, uses all of their fingers to hold a pencil , or writes with an awkward grasp, the Pencil Grasp Challenge is for you!

Let me tell you a little more about the challenge.

PENCIL GRASP CHALLENGE

The pencil grasp challenge for kids

If you already signed up, be sure to check your email, because I have some surprises there for you and access to our private community.

If you haven’t sighted up yet, but want to, find the link to join us below.

What is the Pencil Grasp Challenge?

Pencil grasp challenge activities to help pencil grasp problems

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 us 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 free printable handouts that you can use to share with your team or with a parent/fellow teacher. 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. This is going to be fun!

Pencil grasp challenge and activities for a better pencil grasp

If you haven’t already, be sure to sign up now, because we’re gearing up for a fun week in the pencil grasp Facebook group.

Use these pencil grasp activities to  help build the fine motor skills kids need for handwritng

More about the challenge

This challenge has been a yearly challenge for the last three years.

The Pencil Grasp Challenge started because on The OT Toolbox, we have had many questions on handwriting and pencil grasp. Parents, teachers, and therapists have questions on concepts such as:

  • How do I fix pencil grasp?
  • What is an appropriate pencil grasp?
  • How does pencil grasp develop?
  • What is a functional pencil grasp?
  • How does pencil grasp impact handwriting?
  • I need handwriting help! Where do I begin?
  • When is it developmentally appropriate to work on pencil grasp?
  • My child/student has a terrible pencil grasp! What do I do?

As a result, I have A LOT of handwriting and fine motor activities here on The OT Toolbox website. A lot of those activities are perfect for developing a functional and efficient pencil grasp. The Pencil Grasp Challenge started as I had an idea to create a challenge of fine motor activities to boost the skills kids need for strong and efficient hands, so they can hold and manipulate a pencil without difficulty. I started using #pencilgraspchallenge hashtag on my Instagram posts for those activities, with the intention to start this challenge with all of you.

In fact, go ahead and check out #pencilgraspchallenge on Instagram…you’ll find loads of fun fine motor activities designed specifically to build the skills needed for a better pencil grasp.

Join the pencil grasp challenge series to build fine motor skills in kids

Enter the Pencil Grasp Challenge!

Want to join us in helping kids achieve a better, functional pencil grasp that works for them? Enter your email address into the form below!

Do you know a child with a terrible pencil grasp?

✏️Want to know what exactly is going on behind an awkward or weak pencil grasp?

✏️Want to know how to fix pencil grasps so they are FUNCTIONAL and EFFICENT?

✏️Want fun and actionable activities to build stronger hands so kids can write with ease?

Join the Pencil Grasp Challenge for 5 days of tools and resources!

    So I can best serve you, are you…
    We won’t send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time.
    Pencil activities to help kids write with a functional grasp

    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 contact@theottoolbox.com.