Cherry Blossom Tree Craft- Fine Motor Activity

Cherry blossom tree craft

This cherry blossom craft is one of my favorites this time of year because it’s a fine motor power tool that supports so many areas of development with a single craft. We made the tissue paper cherry blossom tree many years ago, and it’s still a favorite when it comes to one craft that supports many areas! This is just one of the fun Cherry blossom crafts here on the site that promote fine motor skills, strengthening, and precision in big ways. Let’s explain…

Cherry Blossom Craft

We made these Cherry blossom trees one day as a Spring occupational therapy activity for kids.  This was the perfect way to brighten up our dining room.  We had a bunch of paper snowflakes hanging on our window and decided we needed to pull those down and make a few fun spring crafts!  This Cherry Blossom Tree craft hit the mark!

Not only were our trees fun to make, they had a great fine motor component to them…and we love fine motor activities!

 

Cherry blossom tree craft

 
 This post contains affiliate links. 

 

Cherry Blossom Tree craft

We made this tissue paper cherry blossom craft using simple materials that we already had on hand:

  • Green construction paper
  • Pink tissue paper
  • Glue
  • Clothes pins
  • We also used scissors, a pencil, and a lid (to create the tree circle)

The craft is ideal because there are many skills that are addressed using these materials. We show them in the image at the top of this page, and they include:

  • Finger strength– needed to pinch the clothes pins as a trunk onto the tissue paper cherry blossom craft.
  • Open thumb web space– needed to tear and crumble the tissue paper
  • Scissor skills– necessary to cut the circles
  • Arch development– crumbling the paper into small bits requires refinement of the arches of the hand
  • Pincer grasp– to pick up and manipulate the small crumbled tissue aper pieces and to place them onto glue spots on the tree

There are other skills that are used as well: tripod grasp, gross grasp, bilateral coordination, intrinsic hand strength, etc.

 

Trace a lid to make circles for cherry blossom tree craft.
 
We started with green Construction Paper and a peanut butter jar lid.  I traced a bunch of circles (and Baby Girl had to try her hand at tracing, too!)
 
Holding the lid and tracing around it is a great way to incorporate bilateral coordination and crossing midline. This is a nice precursor to the task of cutting out each circle. 
 
To address scissor skills, consider using thicker paper or cardstock to make the cutting activity easier. Here are strategies for working on scissor skills and cutting accuracy.
 
Cut circles for a Cherry blossom tree

 

These were cut out and we were ready to get started on our trees.

Dots of glue for cherry blossom tree craft

I put a bunch of dots of glue on the circles.  Older kids could do this part.  Squeezing the glue bottle is a great fine motor strengthening exercise for little hands.

For kids that need help working on graded resistance and grasp when managing a bottle of glue, practicing glue spots onto different sizes of circles like in a glue exercise is a good way to help with this functional task. 

The Glue Spots worksheets in the Spring Fine Motor Kit is a good exercise for this activity.

Crumbling tissue paper is great for fine motor skills.
 
Next, Big Sister pulled small bits of pink tissue paper from a big old sheet. 
 
Tearing tissue paper is such a GREAT fine motor strengthening exercise for kiddos. 
 
Crumbling those little bits works the intrinsic muscles of the hands (the small muscles that are in the hand and make up arches of the palm.  Strength of these muscles is so important to endurance in handwriting and coloring, maintaining adequate pressure when coloring, holding the pencil accurately…the needs for defined arches of the hands could go on and on and on!
 
Crumbling tissue paper for crumbled paper art is a functional fine motor craft that kids can hang up and admire their hard work. You’ll find more Crumble Art crafts in the Spring Fine Motor Kit, including templates for 5 different crumble art crafts: flowers, mushroom, rainbow, and Easter egg crafts.
 
Pinching tissue paper works on hand strength and tripod grasp.
 
Pressing those little tissue paper crumbles into the glue required a tripod grasp.  And, we had a ton of glue spots…so this was a good long activity!
 
Tripod grasp is worked on with this cherry blossom tree craft.

 

Cover all of those glue spots!

Make Cherry Blossom tree crat to work on fine motor skills with clothes pins for trunks.

 

Once our tissue paper/glue was dry, we clipped on clothes pin “trunks” onto our trees.  Pinching those pins was another way to encourage hand strengthening.  We had a whole forest of Cherry Blossom trees and got them involved on our train table, with the Little People stuff, with little dinosaurs.  We played with these Cherry Blossom trees until they fell apart!

Be sure to check out this other cherry blossom fine motor math activity, where we used pink tissue paper to make cherry blossoms and worked on tripod grasp and eye hand coordination skills.

 

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 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 contact@theottoolbox.com.

Cherry Blossom Tree craft for kids with fine motor activity

Snowy Farm Sensory Bin

farm sensory bin

Welcome to a winter wonderland on the farm! In today’s blog post, we’re diving into the magical world of sensory play with a snowy farm sensory bin. This delightful activity combines the charm of a farm theme with the sensory joys of winter, creating an engaging and therapeutic experience for children. This is one of our favorite winter sensory bins because you can focus on so many different underlying skills through play.

Farm sensory bin

Whether you’re a parent looking for creative winter activities or a therapist seeking effective tools for skill development, this farm sensory bin is tailored to captivate young minds while addressing various therapeutic areas. Read all about sensory bins in general as a therapy tool to support skill development.

Farm Sensory Bin

We love a great occupational therapy sensory activity because cold winter temps and less daylight hours mean you might not have a chance to get little ones outside as often as you might like. Plus, a farm sensory bin goes great with a Farm theme in preschool or in occupational therapy sessions.

This farm sensory bin has a winter theme, but you could actually set up a farm sensory bin any time of year. In fact, we loved this play dough farm activity that goes along with a farm theme and supports fine motor skills as well as sensory input.

The base of shredded paper sets the stage for a snowy landscape, providing a tactile experience that stimulates sensory exploration and fine motor skills.

This winter-themed sensory bin features a collection of farm toys and mini figures, turning the snowy setting into a farm scene ready for imaginative play.

Farm Animal Sensory Bin

The farm animal sensory bin takes the excitement a step further, introducing miniature figures of beloved farm animals. As children dive into the bin, they engage in hands-on exploration, feeling the textures of the shredded paper, maneuvering the farm toys, and creating their own farm stories.

This sensory-rich experience enhances tactile input, encouraging self-confidence as children express themselves through play.

Farm Theme Sensory Bin Setup

Setting up the farm theme sensory bin is a breeze:

  1. Begin with a large container filled with shredded paper to create a snowy base. You could also use other sensory bin base materials if you don’t have shredded paper on hand.
  2. Add farm toys such as barns, tractors, and mini figures of animals to bring the farm to life.
  3. Encourage creativity by incorporating small props like faux trees or fences. This simple yet effective setup provides a canvas for endless imaginative scenarios.

Before this weekend, we’ve had a super cool spring.  With a handful of days where it snowed.  We are ready for outside play in short sleeves, running in the yard, and grass stained knees.

But, we have been loving this fun play activity too 🙂

We had a boat load of shredded paper from doing taxes recently.  It came in pretty handy for a small world snowy farm scene!

We put some farm animals, the Little People barn, and of course, Little Guy’s construction vehicles.

(how else can the farmer move allll that snow??)

Little Guy went to farm-town with imagination stories and pretend play.

Baby Girl loves to make the animal sounds and had a blast finding them in the shredded paper.

Why This Farm Sensory Bin Helps Development


Beyond simply playing in the sensory bin, this farm sensory bin serves as a therapeutic tool to foster development in various areas.

You can target areas in:

Fine motor skills are particularly important in early childhood development, as they lay the foundation for more complex tasks in the future. 

Tactile discrimination, exploration, and sensory desensitization are effectively addressed with sensory bins as they are playful and present in a non-threatening way. The playful nature of sensory bins allows children to control their tactile experiences, fostering confidence in their interactions with materials and gradually increasing their comfort with different sensations. 

The hands-on nature of the activity promotes fine motor skills as children manipulate the farm toys and engage with the sensory materials. Communication skills blossom as they create farm narratives, fostering language development.

In addition, occupational therapy providers love sensory bins because they can offer a unique and enjoyable way to engage reluctant children who may initially be hesitant about engaging in the sensory elements of tactile defensiveness challenges.

Tactile input and sensory exploration contribute to a holistic sensory experience, supporting overall sensory processing.

 

 
 
 
 
My fun-loving Baby Girl instigated this little incident…
 
she just couldn’t help herself 🙂
 
 
What are we learning through play?

Imagination Play

Pretend Play

Learning Animals

Animal Sounds

Visual Scanning

Sensory Play

 

Farm Sensory Bin Ideas

You can pair this farm sensory bin with other therapy ideas, too. Use some of these tools and resources to support skills like gross motor skills, coordination, brain breaks, and more:

  • These Farm Brain Breaks can add movement and gross motor input to a child’s day and fit in great with a farm animal theme. Print off the cards and use them in the classroom or home.
  • These heavy work cards includes a set of 8 farm themed heavy work activities that can be used as a brain break or added proprioceptive input.
  • Free Farm Scissor Skills Packet
  • This barn craft is fun because kids can make a barn and use it in the farm animal sensory bin.
  • This Farm Fingerprint art activity supports visual closure, visual tracking, and visual scanning activity, too.
  • The Farm Therapy Kit has a bunch or activities to support sensory needs, handwriting, motor skills, dexterity, and more.

Get your copy of the Farm Therapy Kit.

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 contact@theottoolbox.com.

Types of Pencil Grips

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!

Pencil grips

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!

There are so many types of pencil grips out there on the market. Some of those listed out include:

  • Trigangle pencil grip
  • Grotto pencil grip
  • Soft foam pencil grip (Classic foam pencil grip)
  • The Pencil Grip
  • Crossover Gripper
  • The Writing C.L.A.W.
  • Firesara Grip
  • Twist n’ Write
  • Handiwriter
  • Write Right Stylus
  • Stetro Gripper
  • Weighted pencil grip

This is just a start of all of the types of pencil grips out there. We’ll go into greater detail on the benefits of each pencil grips, and why you would select one grip over another.

Let’s get started!

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 (affiliate link)- 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 (affiliate link)- 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 (affiliate link) 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

Adaptive 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. There are adaptive pencil grips that support various needs.

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:

Pencil Grips for Other writing utensils

It’s important to cover another aspect of using pencil grips on writing utensils like gel pens, golf pencils, or weighted pencils. For some students, a different type of writing tool is needed and you can incorporate a pencil grip that supports sensory motor needs.

gel pen grip uses a pencil gripper on a pen

Gel Pen Pencil Grips

For example, a student that requires a gel pen over a pencil might have needs with proprioceptive awareness or trouble with pencil pressure. In this case, the gel pen offers lower resistance of the pen as it moves across the page. This can allow handwriting that was previously illegible because the pencil marks were too light on the page, to now show up. Other students might not have enough strength to move the pencil across a page given the force required to press through the lead of the pencil over the paper.

For these students, you might want to trial various gel pens that require less force to use.

Pencil grips that can be used with gel pens include any of the pencil grips listed above. Some of the ideal grippers include:

  • Classic foam grip
  • Grotto grip
  • Writing CLAW
  • Crossover grip

Depending on the needs of the individual, you can use other grips as well. Essentially, a gel pen grip supports a combination of handwriting needs, so combining these tools can target different needs.

Golf Pencil Grips

Pencil grips can also be used with golf pencils. You might want to use a small pencil like a golf pencil to support more precision and fine motor control with the mechanics of the finger grasp on the pencil.

Just like using an alternative writing tool like a gel pen, a golf pencil will fit with a variety of pencil grippers.

Elastic Band Pencil Grip

An elastic band pencil grip is a simple yet effective tool that is easy to make. The elastic band pencil grip is essentially a rubber band or a hair tie attached to the writing end of the pencil. The other end of the rubber band might be loose in a loop or it might have a charm attached.

Students that struggle with holding the pencil up and down might have a closed web space, tightly around the pencil. This means the pencil doesn’t have full motion and there is limited finger dexterity in the tips of the thumb, pointer finger, middle finger, and possibly the ring finger. In this case, using an elastic band that is attached to the pencil and loose (without a charm) can position the pencil into an upright position. You’ll want the student to put the loose end of the rubber band around their wrist. The elastic material then pulls the pencil into a vertical position.

Students that tend to put all four fingers in opposition with their thumb may not use a separated sides of the hand when writing. This means they might not move the pencil as efficiently as they could (and leads to lower letter legibility). In this case, the rubber band attaches to the tip of the pencil and the other end, which has the charm attached can be tucked into the palm of the hand.

In combination with these rubber band grippers or traditional pencil grips, incorporating a few manual dexterity goals can make all of the difference. A true tripod grasp might not be achieved, but a functional grasp is achievable.

The primary purpose of the elastic band pencil grip is to promote a functional and efficient grasp, thereby enhancing fine motor skills and handwriting abilities. Tools that support development of coordination and strength include:

  • Pencil Grasp Play Book– activities to support dexterity, fine motor strength, coordination, and more, all with an efficient pencil grip in mind.
  • 6 Month Fine Motor Plan– This plan outlines specific and easy fine motor exercises designed around play and sensory exploration that support fine motor skills needed for pencil grasp.
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!

Hand Strengthening Activity with Blocks and Rubber Bands (So Easy!)

Rubber band exercises with Jenga blocks and rubber bands to create block structures

Kids and occupational therapists alike will love this hand strengthening activity for kids. It’s a powerful way to build finger strength and increase grip strength using everyday materials. This fine motor activity is an old one…it’s one that we came up with years ago here on the website. It’s fun to look back at this super easy rubber band activity because the hand strengthening activity is not just fun, but it’s a great therapy tool, too.

Rubber Band Activity

This rubber band activity is a no-prep activity that you can pull out on a rainy day, while waiting at a restaurant, or when the kids are itching for something different to do.  This building activity is a fun STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math) activity that can be modified to meet the needs and interests of your kiddo.  

I pulled this rubber band activity out one day when a little niece and nephew were over, and he loved building with something that was a little different than typical building blocks.  

This is a great activity for Occupational Therapists use in their treatment, because we’re working on so many skills here:  strengthening, bilateral hand coordination, motor planning, and eye-hand coordination.

This finger strength activity is part of our 31 Days of Occupational Therapy series, designed to help kids build skills through everyday items.

If playing with blocks is an engaging activity for the children you work with, be sure to check out our DIY cardboard bricks idea.

These hand strengthening activities use just rubber bands and blocks. Also included are hand strengthening activities with many materials.

  I’m including affiliate links in this post.


Hand Strengthening Activities for Kids

You’ll need just two materials for this activity:  

  1. Jenga pieces
  2. A handful of rubber bands in different sizes. And that’s it!

How to set up this rubber band activity:

Creating a strengthening play activity or an opportunity for data collection using a specific number of repetitions with a rubber band exercise program is easy with just this one activity.

You can create an open-ended play activity by simply offering a box of Jenga blocks and a bag of rubber bands and asking the child to build anything. This provides an opportunity for creative expression and problem solving.

Or, you can set up an exercise program using a specific number of rubber bands and blocks and asking the child to complete certain exercises. (Read about these at the bottom of the blog post).

Hand strengthening activity for kids to play and create buildings with a asimple, no-prep activity. This is perfect for a busy bag activity for kids to do while waiting at restaurants or other places.  Also tips and ideas to work on intrinsic hand strengthening in kids, from an Occupational Therapist.

 

Show your kids how to wrap the rubber bands around the wooden blocks in different ways.  Let them get creative with building and creating.  

Hand strengthening activity for kids to play and create buildings with a asimple, no-prep activity. This is perfect for a busy bag activity for kids to do while waiting at restaurants or other places.  Also tips and ideas to work on intrinsic hand strengthening in kids, from an Occupational Therapist.

Finger Strength

My little nephew was so excited when I showed him this.  Cool Aunt status!  He sat and built creations for a long time.  And watching those little hands building and working was fun for me!  Manipulating the rubber bands is such a fine motor workout for kids.  Intrinsic hand muscles are needed for so many functional tasks.  

Hand strengthening activity for kids to play and create buildings with a a simple, no-prep activity. This is perfect for a busy bag activity for kids to do while waiting at restaurants or other places.  Also tips and ideas to work on intrinsic hand strengthening in kids, from an Occupational Therapist.
Finger strength activities and finger strength exercises using everyday toys and tools, perfect for kids.


Hand and Grip Strength

When kids have a functional finger strength levels, they are able to write and color with endurance. They are able to manipulate small items. Finger strength looks like the ability to open and close plastic baggies and other meal containers at lunch time in the school lunch room. It looks like the ability to manipulate clothing fasteners like buttons, snaps, and even the buckle on a car seat.

Finger strength can be tested to see if grip and pinch strength are at typical levels for the child’s age, but if you are noticing that activities the child should be accomplishing like managing items is hard, you can look into hand strengthening and grip strength exercises in more depth.

More signs of hand weakness include:

  • Kids with weakness in their hands may have difficulty with coloring and complain that it hurts to color large areas.  
  • You might see them color or write using their whole arm instead of just their wrist and fingers.
  • Hand weakness may be indicated by difficulty cutting a smooth line with scissors.  Rather, you’ll see jagged snips.  
  • Kids with hand weakness might have trouble managing a zipper or pushing a button through a button hole.
  • Weakness of the hand is indicated by a poor pencil grasp.  Kids with intrinsic muscle weakness will write with a closed thumb web space and will use their thumb to stabilize the pencil.
  • And then, you’ll see poor hand writing.
  • Hand weakness is indicated by light pencil pressure that is almost illegible, or very light coloring.
  • Difficulty with manipulating small items and using in-hand manipulation in managing small parts.
  • Trouble with grasping tools like utensils. scissors, scoops, tweezers, and eye droppers.
  • Difficulty manipulating and grasping small toys.
Hand strengthening activity for kids to play and create buildings with a asimple, no-prep activity. This is perfect for a busy bag activity for kids to do while waiting at restaurants or other places.  Also tips and ideas to work on intrinsic hand strengthening in kids, from an Occupational Therapist.

Grip exercises for kIds

We know that kids primary occupation is play, right? Kids learn and develop skills through play! So when it comes to strengthening hands, improving grip strength, forearm strength, and pinch strength, the key is to use games and play!

Some other ways that are perfect for hand strengthening are toys and games that are typically recommended by Occupational Therapists.  These are some of my favorites:

Hand strengthening activity for kids to play and create buildings with a asimple, no-prep activity. This is perfect for a busy bag activity for kids to do while waiting at restaurants or other places. Also tips and ideas to work on intrinsic hand strengthening in kids, from an Occupational Therapist.

Toys and Ideas for Working on Hand Strengthening for Kids

  • Squeezing water bottles to water plants.
  • Therapy Putty
    or play dough. Roll the dough into small balls.
  • Tear paper.
  • Crumble small squares of tissue paper.
  • Cut cardstock.
  • clothes pins
    to match colors in games and learning activities 
  • Building toys like this Building Blocks Disks or a favorite in our house, ZOOB Building Set
  • Squirt toys like these Munchkin Five Sea Squirts
    to aim at targets in the bathtub, sink, or plastic bins.
  • Small blocks such as LEGOs
    are perfect for strengthening the intrinsic muscles, with their resistance needed to push them together and pull them apart.  The position hands need to be in to work LEGOS is perfect for strengthening the muscles in the hand.
  • Squeeze a hole punch to create lines of holes along an edge of paper.
  • Eye Droppers and Tweezers are a fun way to explore sensory play while working on fine motor skills.
  • A squeeze toy like this Squishy Mesh Ball  is great for hand strengthening and a fun fidget too.

  More grip strength activities that you will enjoy:

 

Rubber band exercises using Jenga blocks with rubber bands wrapped around them to create block structures.

Rubber Band Hand Exercises

The rubber band hand exercises in this activity post are play-based. This means that you can set up an open-ended activity in an occupational therapy session by offering a tray of blocks and rubber bands. You can ask the student or OT client to just build whatever comes to mind.

  1. Ask the child to create structures, build creative items like animals, figures, or anything that comes to their mind.

2. You could also challenge them to create a structure with the blocks and rubber bands using a certain number of items, like 10 building blocks and 10 rubber bands. Ask them how high they can build a structure or if they can build a structure that doesn’t fall over with that number of materials.

Both of these hand exercises are play-based and open-ended, but they are great fine motor STEM activities.

To make the rubber band hand exercises more quantitative, ask the user to use a specific number of rubber bands and blocks. Ask them to wrap 3 rubber bands around each block. When you ask a student to complete this, they are stretching out the extensor muscles of the hands to extend the rubber band around the block.

And, when they pinch and pull the rubber band, the flexors and muscles of the palm of the hand, or the intrinsic muscles, are active. These facilitate strong and refined arch development for endurance in fine motor tasks.

You can grade these rubber band strength exercises in several ways.

Grade the activity harder, or make the exercise more difficult by:

  • Increasing the number of rubber bands (increase the repetitions)
  • Increase the number of blocks that the user needs to wrap the rubber bands around (increase the pull and resistance of the rubber bands)
  • Increase the number of blocks that need to be wrapped with rubber bands (increase the repetitions)
  • Decrease the size of the rubber band or increase the size of the block (increase the resistance of the band on the muscles)

You can grade the activity down, or make it easier for other users by:

  • Decreasing the number of rubber bands (lower the number of repetitions)
  • Decrease the number of blocks that the user needs to wrap the rubber bands around (decrease the pull and resistance of the rubber bands)
  • Decrease the number of blocks that need to be wrapped with rubber bands (lower the repetitions)
  • Increase the size of the rubber band or decrease the size of the block (decrease the resistance of the band on the muscles)

Note that when you grade the activity down, you can also increase the overall number of repetitions, which can be beneficial for improving strength and endurance. In this case, you should note the number of repetitions that are completed, because doing the exercises each day with increasing repetitions builds muscle memory and endurance.

These activities also support kinesthetic learners which learn counting and motor planning skills through repetition of physical tasks.

These rubber band exercise ideas are similar to a hand gripper workout, only they are play-based. Both offer resistance to the extrinsic flexors and extensors as well as intrinsic muscles.

Hand Exercises with Rubber Bands

Keeping in mind the ability to grade the exercises up or down depending on the unique needs of the individual, you can run through specific hand exercises with rubber bands. Include these rubber hand strengthening exercises in your documentation:

  1. Wrap one rubber band around a block twice (increase or decrease the number of bands)
  2. Wrap a rubber bad around the block lengthwise.
  3. Wrap a rubber band around two blocks to connect the blocks.
  4. Take the block creations apart when completed.

All of these fine motor pinch and grip strength exercises using rubber bands are a hit with kids and occupational therapy providers. You’ll find more ideas in our fine motor kits.

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 contact@theottoolbox.com.

Fine Motor Play with Tissue Paper

Colorful tissue paper squares crumbled up and placed in two plastic water bottles. Text reads Crumbling paper activity and lists the fine motor benefits of crumbling paper.

Today we have a tissue paper crumpling activity (or paper crumbling!) that builds many fine motor skills, including hand strength. In this easy tissue paper fine motor activity, we are working on pinching and crumbling paper is an excellent fine motor exercise for children.  It is an activity that works the small muscles of the hand and really strengthens the arches of the hands

Colorful tissue paper squares crumbled up and placed in two plastic water bottles. Text reads Crumbling paper activity and lists the fine motor benefits of crumbling paper.

There are many fine motor benefits of crumpling paper into small pieces!

Paper Crumpling

Paper crumpling (or paper crumbling) is a great way to play with paper that builds fine motor skills in the hands.

If a child has weak muscles in their hands and the arches are not defined, you may see them holding a pencil or small items between their thumb and the side of their index finger.  The arches of their hand may not be defined and nice and round.  You may also see them holding their hands close to their chest as they attempt to gain stabilization of their arms to do the small motor task.

To really work those muscles, you could have your child first tear the bits of tissue paper before they crumble them up.

Defined arches are very important in shoe tying, handwriting, and managing clothing like buttons and snaps.

You can see how to incorporate tearing paper into this activity using the video below. Towards the end of the video, you’ll see ways to build fine motor strength and finger dexterity using crumbled paper pieces. The tissue paper squares that we are using in our activity today can be used like shown in the video for more finger strengthening exercises.

Working on fine motor skill development through play supports functional tasks, plus it’s fun!

Paper Crumpling Activity

We came up with this tissue paper crumbling activity many years ago, and it still stands as a great way to work on skills:

We’ve talked about the benefits of tearing paper before, and this activity expands on the skills a bit, because after you tear the tissue paper, you can have your student crumble the paper and then push it into the mouth of a water bottle.

While this is a really simple fine motor activity, it’s great because you build so many skills, and kids typically enjoy this simple task.

Tissue Paper Crumbling Activity

For this activity, you really can use items you have on hand. We used empty plastic water bottles, and colorful tissue paper squares.

  1. Cut tissue paper into small squares.
  2. Remove labels from plastic water bottles.

To increase the fine motor work, you could have the student rip pieces of the tissue paper to really increase grip strength work.

Ask the student to take one piece of tissue paper, and crumble it up with their finger tips.

Then, they should push the crumpled tissue paper into the empty water bottle.

You can make this activity a game by asking them to roll a dice and place that many squares of tissue paper into the bottle. Or you could have them sort colors by filling each water bottle with a single color.

 

plastic water bottles full of crumbled tissue paper and tissue paper squares on a table
 
This was an easy and fun little activity to throw together.
We have a bunch of little tissue paper squares in our craft supplies.  Put them next to a couple of empty plastic bottles, and the kids know what to do!
 
 
 
Pushing the tissue paper into the spout of the water bottle is great for encouraging a tripod grasp (using the thumb, index, and middle finger).
 
Holding the bottle with the non-dominant hand allows the child to work on their bilateral hand coordination (using both hands together in a coordinated manner…kids need this when they begin shoe tying and managing the zipper on their coat).
 
When you ask kids to crumble paper using just the tips of their fingers, you really isolate thumb IP joint flexion as they bend the tips of the fingers. This is needed for dexterity and precision skills in functional tasks such as writing with a pencil.
 
collage of child placing crumpled tissue paper into an empty plastic bottle, child holding plastic water bottle full of crumbled tissue paper, and water bottle and tissue paper squares
 
…And everyone loved the cool crunchy sound the bottle made when you squashed it!
 
Child holding a plastic water bottle full of  colorful tissue paper
 

 

There are so many ways to build skills with this simple tissue paper crumpling activity!

More fine motor fun…

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 contact@theottoolbox.com.

Toys to Improve Pencil Grasp

Pencil grasp toys

Have you ever used pencil grasp toys to support development of handwriting? Helping kids with pencil grasp can be a challenge, so using motivating and fun activities to support the underlying skill areas is essential. Today, we’re going over the best occupational therapy toys that target pencil grasp development. Pencil grasp toys to challenge precision, dexterity, endurance, separation of the sides of the hand, and other skills needed for a functional pencil grasp. All of this can happen through play using toys to support stronger hands by focusing on grasp pattern development through play!

Amazon affiliate links are included in this blog post. As an Amazon Influencer, I earn from qualifying purchases.

The best pencil grasp toys to support the fine motor skills needed for a better pencil grip.

Recently, we shared fine motor toy ideas and then gross motor toys. Both of these areas are closely related to a functional pencil grasp, so be sure to check out those toy suggestions, too.

Pencil Grasp Toys

We love coming up with fun play and craft activities designed to work on the development of an efficient grasp.  Being the season of gifting to others, we thought it would be fun to bring you our top recommended toys to work on tripod grasp, intrinsic muscle strength, rotation of the pencil while handwriting, and an open thumb web space

Children who have difficulty with handwriting may completely HATE to work on letter formation and pencil grip.  Why not gift them with a fun toy this holiday that will work on the developmental skills necessary to improve their grip on the pencil?  Make the exercise fun as they PLAY their way to a better pencil grasp!

Handwriting is more than just pencil grasp! Manipulating a pencil to write letters and numbers has a lot to do with visual perceptual skills. You’ll find easy and fun ways to work on visual perceptual skills through play here. 


You will also love these Games to Improve Pencil Grasp

Best Toys to Improve Pencil Grasp

Toys that will help improve pencil grasp

{Note: This post contains affiliate links.}

Toys That Improve Pencil Grasp

Coming up with this list, we thought about the skills needed for an appropriate pencil grasp and age-appropriate handwriting.  This toy gift guide is broken down into toys that will help with different sets of problem areas when it comes to a poor pencil grasp.

Let’s take a closer look at toy suggestions for these areas:

  • Toys for Tripod Grasp
  • Toys for an Open Thumb Web Space
  • Toys for Hand Strength
  • Toys for Extended Wrist

Toys for Tripod Grasp

Tripod grasp: The most efficient way to hold the pencil when writing is with a dynamic tripod grasp. While not necessary…a functional grasp works, too…a tripod grasp is a term we’ve probably all heard described before.  So WHAT is a tripod grasp

A Tripod grasp starts with a nice round circle made with the thumb and index finger.  The pencil is pinched with the tips of the thumb and index finger and held close to the point of the pencil.  The pencil is resting on and assisted by the middle finger.  The ring finger and pinky fingers are tucked into the palm.  All movement should happen with the fingers and thumb.  The wrist and arm should not move while writing, coloring, or drawing. 

Often times, new pencil and crayon users will hold the writing utensil in a different way.  You might see four fingers opposing the thumb to hold the pencil.  You might see the pencil positioned in the knuckles between the index and middle fingers.  Maybe they hold the pencil away from the tip where the lead is and instead hold it in the middle of the pencil shaft.  There are SO many variations of awkward and inefficient pencil grasps.  If your little hand writer is showing some version that affects their letter formation and pencil control, try a few of these fun toys…

A few toys that help to encourage a tripod grasp:

Light Brite: (affiliate link) Picking up and manipulating those little colored pegs encourage a tripod grasp.  Pushing them through the paper and into the holes is a great resistive exercise…disguised as FUN! 

We have this Lite Brite Flatscreen – Red (affiliate link) from Hasbro and love making pictures with the pegs!  When the child holds the pegs in his hand, it’s a great way to encourage the ring finger and pinkie finger in a tucked position.  Show your child how to pick up a handful of pegs and “squirrel them away” in their palm while they push one peg into the board.  What a great fine motor exercise!  Not to mention, the dots of the guide paper is a great visual motor activity…so important in handwriting!

Lacing Cards: (affiliate link) Lacing cards are a great way to encourage a tripod grasp.  This set of Lacing Shapes (affiliate link) from Patch Products come in simple shapes with bold colors. The child must hold the tip of the string in a dynamic tripod grasp to push through the holes of the card.  If your child has their thumb squashed up against their index finger while threading the cards, be sure to show them how to make a nice round circle for an easier time.

Peg Boards: (affiliate link) Grasping pegs encourage a tripod grasp especially while pushing them into the holes of a peg board.  Here are homemade pegboard ideas and even a precision pegboard you can make using perler beads (see below).

This Lauri Tall-Stacker Pegs Building Set (affiliate link) from Lauri is great for building peg towers while learning colors and shapes. 

Older kids might love Fusion Beads like the Perler Beads 6,000 Count Bucket-Multi Mix (affiliate link) from Perler.

Spike the Fine Motor Hedge Hog– (affiliate link) This fine motor toy builds a stronger tripod grasp, and when positioned appropriately, can place the wrist into an extended position, too. This helps to further refine precision movements for accuracy and dexterity. These are great skills to carry over to pencil control and pencil movements during handwriting tasks.

Learning Resources 3 Prong Tong– (affiliate link) This tong tool promotes a better grasp on objects…but only if the hand is positioned correctly. If you allow kids to just pick up the 3 prong tongs and start using them, they likely will position the tong into their hand with a gross grasp, or by using all of the fingers along the length of the prong. This can actually strengthen the wrong muscles, and promote an ineffective motor plan that becomes muscle memory when writing with a pencil.

When kids use these tongs, they should have their hand positioned almost under the tongs, as if it were a pencil. When used this way, the tongs can strengthen the intrinsic muscles and promote a tripod grasp. These 3 prong tongs can work well when used correctly, but be sure to work along side a child with this one.

Toys for Open Thumb Web Space

Sometimes you will see a child who is holding their pencil with a closed web space.  This happens when the thumb web space is the area between the thumb and the index finger.  If the thumb is squashed up against the side of their index finger, they are not able to manipulate the pencil with small movements.  They might move their whole arm to make letters instead of just the hand.  A closed web space is an inefficient way to grasp the pencil and will lead to poor handwriting.  This type of positioning requires activities that strengthen and stabilize the thumb.

A few toys that help encourage an open web space:

Tweezer Games:  Tweezer activities promote an open web space and stabilization of the thumb.  This Avalanche Fruit Stand (affiliate link) from Learning Resources is a colorful way to encourage an open web space.  The vertical surface is perfect for encouraging an extended wrist.

Bead Sets: (affiliate link) Stringing beads is a good way to encourage an open web space.  The child must hold the bead and string between their thumb and index fingers.  Collapsing of the thumb web space will happen when the child demonstrates weakness in the muscles of the thumb.  Beading is a repetitive activity and promotes strength. 

This Melissa & Doug Deluxe Wooden Stringing Beads with over 200 beads (affiliate link) from Melissa & Doug has over 200 beads in different colors and shapes, and even letters!  You could even form sentences for the child to copy and practice their improved pencil grasp!

Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots: (affiliate link) Often times, a child will wrap their thumb around the index finger when they are writing with a pencil.. This indicates instability in the thumb and the muscles that allow for smooth pencil motions. 

Pushing down on the buttons of the Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em ROBOTS Game (affiliate link) from Mattel really strengthens the muscles of the thumb and allows for more stability leading to an open web space and ultimately more fluid motions of the pencil in letter formation.  Plus, this game is just plain old FUN for kids of all ages!

Toys for Hand Strength

Hand Strength:  If a child has weakness in their hands, they may complain that their hand is tired when they write or color.  Then, to compensate for muscle fatigue, they resort to an inefficient hand grasp.  They may grip the pencil with four fingers or with their whole palm.  many times, a child will start off with a nice tripod grasp and then switch to a less efficient grasp…or even switch hands!  Do they complain that their hand is tired or that it hurts?  These kiddos need to work on hand strength.  To allow for increased endurance when writing and coloring, this child would benefit from strengthening exercises.

A few toys that help encourage hand strength:

Pop Beads:  (affiliate link) Pushing pop beads together is a perfect way to strengthen the intrinsic muscles of the hands including the arches of the hands. 

Pop beads are such a fun toy that can be used to make patterns, different lengths, bracelets, necklaces, and even shapes. This Pop Beads (affiliate link) from ConstructivePlaythings are unique in their shape, color, sizes, and textures. A twist on the classic bead, this set will excite girls and boys of all ages.  Be sure to shop for size-appropriate beads for your child’s hands.

Play-Doh: (affiliate link) Play dough is the ultimate open-ended toy for hand strengthening.  There are unlimited ways to play all the while encouraging hand development. 

We love this Play-Doh 24-Pack of Colors(affiliate link) for lots of creative play!  Hide coins, beans, or beads in the dough and allow the child to find the items.  Roll small balls of dough using just the thumb, index, and middle fingers. 

Roll a play dough snake with the dough and have the child pinch the dough between their thumb and index finger.  Just get creative and make some things with your play dough.  Most of all, have fun!

Tissue Paper Art: (affiliate link) There is possible no better art project for hand strengthening than tissue paper art!  Crumbling little bits of tissue paper is perfect for strengthening the small muscles of the hand. 

Encourage your child to use just their finger tips to crumble the bits of tissue paper rather than two hands to crumble.  This ALEX® Toys – Early Learning Tissue Paper Art -Little Hands 521W (affiliate link) from Alex Toys is bold, colorful and just plain fun art!  Even better for the intrinsic muscles of the hands is tearing bits of paper before crumbling.

Squeeze Toys:(affiliate link) a gross grasp is using the whole hand to squeeze and flex into a grip. 

What a great way to strengthen the muscles of the hands!  This Melissa & Doug Louie Lobster Claw Catcher (affiliate link) from Melissa and Doug is a fun way to encourage hand strength and endurance for coloring and writing.

Geoboard Activities– (affiliate link) Using a geoboard supports hand strength to enable endurance in handwriting. Manipulating the rubber bands promotes finger isolation, open thumb web-space, and and extended wrist.

Learning Resources Helping Hands Fine Motor Tool Set Toy– (affiliate link) This set of fine motor tools includes an eye-dropper, scissor scoops, and tongs. The sensory bin scoops and tools support hand strength through manipulating small objects or water.

These tools are a great way to strengthen the exact muscles needed for a functional pencil grasp.

Toys for Extended Wrist

Extended Wrist:  An Extended wrist is a slightly bent back wrist.  When a child’s hand is bent forward toward the palm, they typically exhibit inefficient grasp on the pencil and weakness in the hand. A slight bend in the wrist towards the back of the hand (bent up toward the ceiling when writing) allows for better movement and flow of the fingers when forming letters.  Often times a child with a poor handwriting demonstrates a “hooked wrist” or a flat wrist and it leads back to inefficient control of the pencil and messy handwriting. 

A few toys that help encourage an Extended Wrist:

Easel: (affiliate link) An easel can be used in so many ways while encouraging an extended wrist.  Paint, draw, color, or write on the elevated surface.  We love taping contact paper to our easel and sticking all kinds of craft supplies. 

This really encourages an extended wrist while using a tripod grasp or tip to tip grasp to manipulate little items (think tissue paper, sequins, foil squares…the possibilities are endless!) This Easel (affiliate link) is great for extended wrist activities.  And, it even folds down to reveal a desk surface.  It’s the perfect gift to promote improved handwriting!

Ker Plunk: (affiliate link) The Ker Plunk Game (affiliate link) from Mattel encourages an extended wrist as the child pushes the sticks into the holes of the game.  They are encouraged to use a tripod grasp to hold the sticks as well.  Rotating the sticks encourages two types of in-hand manipulation.

Take this game a step further in handwriting exercise for strengthening and play laying down on the floor, propped up on your elbows.  Getting down on the floor to play will activate the large muscles of the back and the shoulder girdle to improve precision in pencil grasp.

Montessori Boards-(affiliate link) Precision and dexterity activities are needed for pencil grasp and when you add in dexterity tasks and manipulation of tongs, spoons, or tweezers to move and place objects, it’s a win-win.

This precision Montessori board (affiliate link) builds the skills needed for pencil grasp: a stabile wrist, in-hand manipulation, open thumb web space, and dexterity.

Best toys and ideas to help kids improve their pencil grasp

Looking for a few activities to improve handwriting skills? Check out our round-up of the best handwriting activities from our blog and these other toy suggestions:

More Therapy Toy Ideas

Want to find more therapy recommended toys to help kids develop specific skills? Check out the list of skill areas below.

  1. Fine Motor Toys 
  2. Gross Motor Toys 
  3. Pencil Grasp Toys
  4. Toys for Reluctant Writers
  5. Toys for Spatial Awareness
  6. Toys for Visual Tracking
  7. Toys for Sensory Play 
  8. Bilateral Coordination Toys 
  9. Games for Executive Functioning Skills
  10. Toys and Tools to Improve Visual Perception
  11. Toys to Help with Scissors Skills
  12. Toys for Attention and Focus

Printable List of Toys for Pencil Grasp

Want a printable copy of our therapist-recommended toys to support pencil grasp?

As therapy professionals, we LOVE to recommend therapy toys that build skills! This toy list is done for you so you don’t need to recreate the wheel.

Your therapy caseload will love these PENCIL GRASP toy recommendations. (There’s space on this handout for you to write in your own toy suggestions, to meet the client’s individual needs, too!)

Enter your email address into the form below. The OT Toolbox Member’s Club Members can access this handout inside the dashboard, under Educational Handouts. Just be sure to log into your account, first!

peg board building toy with text reading " pencil grasp toy"

Pencil Grasp Toy Giveaway

Today’s toy item is a (affiliate link) Peg Board Set.

As we discussed before with handwriting skills, children may strongly dislike working on their pencil grip if they struggle with handwriting. Therefore, activities need to be meaningful and motivating to keep the child engaged! With the Peg Board Building Set, children have the chance to be creative and build pegboard towers while also working on their pencil grasp without even realizing it! Grasping the pegs will encourage them to use a tripod grasp, especially when pushing them into the holes of the peg board! With 100 pegs in this set, the creations are endless!

Want to enter our Therapy Toys and Tools Giveaway for a chance to win a pencil grasp toy? Enter your email address into the form below. You’ll also get a free printable list of pencil grasp toys.

This giveaway runs from 12-5-23 through 12-5-23. A winner will be chosen on 12-6-2023.

Pencil Grasp Toy Giveaway

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    Enter all the giveaways here:

    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 contact@theottoolbox.com.

    Christmas Tree Hole Punch Activity

    Christmas tree hole punch

    This hole punch Christmas tree craft was originally published 11-19-2015 and was updated 11-8-2023.

    This Christmas Tree Hole Punch activity is an OLD fine motor activity on our site, but it’s one you’ll want to add to your Christmas occupational therapy activity line up. Why? Because the simple Christmas tree activity is easy to set up and builds many skills all at once: fine motor, bilateral coordination, eye-hand coordination, hand strength, and much more are all developed with one fun activity. All of this skill-building makes it a Christmas craft for kids that is a must this time of year!

    Christmas tree hole punch fine motor activity

    Christmas Tree Hole Punch for Therapy

    This Christmas Tree Fine Motor Activity is a Christmas themed busy bag that will hopefully help some of that hectic holiday craze that happens this time of year.  Give the kiddos this proprioception powerhouse punching activity and be assured that the kids will be learning, getting out a little holiday wiggles, and you, Mama, can cross off an item from that post-it note.  

    Or grab a cup of coffee and just relax for a second.  Both are equally important.

    Check out these Christmas Fine Motor Activities for more creative ways to work on fine motor skills and address development of skills this Christmas season. 

    This activity will help your child with:

    Christmas Tree hole punch activity

    Affiliate links are included in this blog post.


    Christmas Tree Hole Punch

    This activity is perfect for an Occupational Therapist‘s treatment bag in the days leading up to Christmas.  Kids get a little bit excited (right?) and the wiggles and giggles may end up leading to sensory overload.  A proprioception activity like punching holes is perfect to provide heavy work input to the hands and add calming input.  

    Using a hole punch provides a gross hand grasp strengthening work to the hands.  This activity is perfect for a Christmas themed warm-up activity before handwriting this season.

    A busy bag is intended to keep little hands busy, while learning, exploring, and getting stronger through fine motor play!  And, what does a mom need on occasion for little ones, but busy activities for quiet time.

    RELATED POST: CHRISTMAS JINGLE BELL SORT BUSY BAG

    Christmas tree hole punch and punching holes each each tree


    Materials Needed for a Christmas Tree Hole Punch

    This Christmas Tree activity is easy to put together.  We used just a few items:

    Amazon affiliate links:

    How to make the Hole Punch Christmas Tree


    To make the Christmas tree counting busy bag:

    1. Cut the Green Cardstock into tree shapes.  
    2. Add trunks with the Brown Cardstock.  Glue these in place at the base of each triangle.  
    3. Use the black marker to write a number on each tree trunk.
    4. Next, show your child how to name the number on the Christmas tree and then to punch the corresponding number of holes into the branches of the tree.

    Christmas Tree Busy Bag Counting and proprioception activity

    RELATED POST: EGG CARTON CHRISTMAS TREE FINE MOTOR CRAFT

    hole punch Christmas tree

    Christmas Hole Punch Activity

    Enjoy this time as your kiddo counts, hole punches, and works on so many skills.  And rest assured that they will be doing a productive activity…and not adding more to that to-do list!

    As mentioned above, this Christmas hole punch task covers a variety of skills, but we should go into more detail on the hand strengthening component when using a hole punch to create holes in each Christmas tree.

    Squeezing a hole puncher challenges a grasp pattern with an open thumb web space to strengthen grip strength.

    Finger strength is developed by squeezing a hole puncher. Plus, when the hole punch is held, wrist stability is needed to hold the hole punch in an optimal position to squeeze it completely.

    Then, when you have the holes punched in the trees, you can use them to create a hole punch Christmas tree craft!

    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 contact@theottoolbox.com.

    Looking for done-for you therapy activities this holiday season?

    This print-and-go Christmas Therapy Kit includes no-prep, fine motor, gross motor, self-regulation, visual perceptual activities…and much more… to help kids develop functional grasp, dexterity, strength, and endurance. Use fun, Christmas-themed, motor activities so you can help children develop the skills they need.

    This 100 page no-prep packet includes everything you need to guide fine motor skills in face-to-face AND virtual learning. You’ll find Christmas-themed activities for hand strength, pinch and grip, dexterity, eye-hand coordination, bilateral coordination, endurance, finger isolation, and more. 

    Finger Dexterity Exercises

    Hand holding coins by the fingertips and dropping one at a time into a stack of coins. Text reads "finger dexterity"

    Fine motor skills are a complex thing, but one thing that plays a major role in fine motor coordination is finger dexterity. The precision movements and endurance in small motor activities is driven by the ability to maneuver fingers and isolate the joints in holding and manipulating small objects. Let’s explore the role of manual dexterity in fine motor skills.

    The finger dexterity activities and exercises in this post can be used along with manual dexterity goals to support functional tasks.

    finger dexterity

    Fine Motor Dexterity

    Fine Motor Skills in kids are so important for independence in self care tasks.  Children need to develop the ability to manipulate their fingers in a coordinated manner in order to skillfully maneuver buttons, zippers, shoe laces, pencils…and the tools of learning and play…TOYS! 

    Dexterous movements are used in everyday activities throughout our day.

    What is finger dexterity?

    Finger dexterity refers to the ability to use coordination and manipulation of objects in the hands with precision. Dexterous motor skills can be broken down into areas: grasp and release, coordination with in the hand (in-hand manipulation), and proprioception (knowing how much effort is needed to manipulate objects without dropping them). There are many other contributions that impact finger dexterity and we list these below.

    Together, these precision skills enable us to pick up an object with the right amount of pressure and motor dexterity so you can grasp the object accurately taking eye-hand coordination skills into consideration.

    After grasping the object without overshooting or missing the item, it is necessary to position or rotate the object within the hand. Isolation of the joints of the fingers and thumb allow for precise movements and coordination when manipulating objects in functional tasks.

    The nine hole peg test is a good way to assess for finger dexterity.

     

    Finger Dexterity Examples

     
    Fine motor dexterity also looks like:
    • manipulating coins
    • picking up small beads
    • opening a tube of toothpaste
    • threading a needle
    • holding items in the palm of the hand and putting them down one at a time
    • crafts with small objects
    • peeling stickers off a page
    • opening or closing a clasp on a necklace
    • tying shoes
    • opening a bread tie
    • putting a pony tail holder in hair
    • braiding hair
    • maneuvering a pencil within the hand (rotating the pencil, erasing a small spot on the page)
    • turning a pencil in a handheld pencil sharpener
    • zippering– inserting a zipper into the zipper carriage
    • buttoning a shirt
    • lacing up shoes
    • stacking coins
    • holding playing cards in your hands
    • any other task that requires small motor tasks
     
     
    We’ve got lots of posts dedicated to fine motor skills.  Finger Dexterity is a necessary step in development of fine motor skills
     
     

     

     
    Kids will love to play this finger dexterity activity to work on fine motor skills.

     

    Skills needed for Finger Dexterity

    Children develop their hand skills from infancy. Hand strength develops from the time a small baby is placed in tummy time. You’ll start to see finger dexterity in action when a baby picks up cereal pieces using a pincer grasp.
     
    Finger dexterity requires components such as: 
     
    The terms that make up finger dexterity are explained in each of the blog posts in the list.
     
    There are developmental milestones for fine motor development that are necessary for independence each stage of childhood. When kids struggle with handwriting, manipulating small objects, hand fatigue in small motor tasks, finger dexterity and the underlying contributions should be considered.
     
    Children also need to demonstrate dexterity in order to manipulate objects.  They need to maneuver their fingers independently of one another (this is called finger isolation) and with separation of the two sides of the hand
     
    Without these skills, modifications or adjustments are often made by the child. We’ll cover more specifics about the relationship of finger dexterity and these components below.


    Finger Dexterity and Separation of the two sides of the hand

    When using the small muscles of the hands in dexterity tasks, one uses the side of the thumb-side of the hand. 
     
    The precision side of the hand is the thumb, pointer finger, and middle finger.  These are the fingers needed for dexterity tasks and fine motor skills. 
     
    The ring finger and pinkie finger are involved in providing stability during precision tasks.  When the index and thumb are involved in a small motor activity, the ring finger and pinkie finger are tucked into the palm and proved a support during handwriting and shoe tying
     
    They also provide power during grip and the force behind a gross grasp
     
    So when will you see the two sides of the hand separated during activities?? Tying shoes, pulling a zipper, fastening a button, and manipulating small pegs into a pegboard are some examples of separation of the two sides of the hand.


    Finger Dexterity and Finger Isolation

    Finger isolation is a key part of finer dexterity and begins when an infant begins to point at objects with one finger. 
     
    Using the fingers independent of one another is needed for tasks like turning a page in a book, typing, molding dough, sign language, and finger plays (“where is Thumbkin” and other fingerplay songs are great ways to practice finger isolation and dexterity!) 
     
    Kids can identify colors by playing this fine motor game.

     

    Finger dexterity Activity

     
    This finger strength exercise is actually a game, which makes it a great activity for developing precision in those little muscles of the hands, isolating fingers, and separating the two sides of the hand…all SO important in independence and play.
     
    Try this activity to work on separating the two sides of the hand with a fun activity for kids. 

    This post contains affiliate links.

    Our finger dexterity activity began with a little prep work.  We used acrylic paints to paint circles on the back of bubble wrap paper. 

    Kids will explore colors in this finger dexterity game.

     

    I painted the back side of large bubble wrap with different colors.   We let these dry (and it was slightly difficult to remain patient!!)

    Kids will love to play "Twister" in this fine motor exercise.

     

    Once our paints were dry, we got our fingers ready to play some finger dexterity games!  I had Little Guy get his fingers ready by making “legs”. 

    This is a great way to encourage use of the two sides of the hand.  He tucked his pinkie and ring fingers into the palm of his hand and got his pointer and middle finger busy as they “walked” around.

    Fun fine motor game for kids.

     

    We played a color matching game with the colored bubbles.  I called out a color and he had to “walk” his fingers to the color and pop the color.  He was working on color awareness at the same time as we practiced finger dexterity.

    kids can work on fine motor skills needed for independence in many tasks.

     

    As I called out different colors, he had to “walk” his fingers around to the different colors.  He really worked on those finger isolation skills as he searched for a bubble that was not yet popped. 

    Other ways to work on finger isolation and separation of the two sides of the hand include using small objects in manipulation like crafting pom poms.

    The index, middle finger, and thumb are needed to manipulate items in fine motor tasks. This activity is a great way to encourage dexterity in kids.

     

    Even Baby Girl wanted to get in on the fun!  This finger dexterity exercise is a great way to “warm up” the hands before a handwriting or typing task for older children. Using handwriting warm ups prepares the hands for tasks like writing with a pencil.

    When there is weakness in the small muscles of the hands, it is often times, difficult for children to write, color, or type with appropriate grasp and positioning of the fingers and wrist. 

    A dexterity exercise like this one is a fun way to play and get those muscles of the hand moving and strengthened in order to improve endurance and positioning.

    Manual Dexterity Activities

    Looking for more fun ways to practice manual dexterity of the fingers?  These are some fun games and activities you may want to try:

    Finger dexterity exercises

    Using the activities listed above are great ways to build fine motor skills. You can also improve manual dexterity with the following exercises:

    • Pinch putty or playdough 10 times, with 3 repetitions (find more reps in our theraputty exercises blog post)
    • Place pegs into a pegboard- time the student to see how many they can place in 30 seconds. Try to beat that time.
    • Hand gripper workouts to improve proximal stability
    • Stack 10 coins or game tokens into a pile. Then pick them up one at a time and place them into the palm of the hand
    • Deal a deck of cards
    • Creating a fine motor home exercise program
    • Using the exercises described in the Weekly Fine Motor Program
    • Finger aerobics shown in the video below.

    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 contact@theottoolbox.com.

    Wrist Range of Motion Exercises

    hand placing pipe cleaners into the holes of a colander. Text reads "wrist range of motion exercises"

    This colander and toothpicks activity is a powerful wrist extension fine motor task. You can use this activity idea as range of motion exercises for wrist. You’ve probably seen (or tried) a colander and pipe cleaner activity. We’ve also used pipe cleaners and a cardboard box to achieve the same effect.

    Let’s explore what’s happening with this activity…You’ll also want to check out our blog post on finger strength exercises, which includes fun fine motor strengthening activities.

    Colander and Toothpicks Activity

    You might have seen a recent post here on the blog that shared the importance of an extended wrist in fine motor activities.  If you check out that post, you’ll see why it’s important for kids to position their wrist in a functional position.  
     
    Today, I’m adding a simple fine motor activity for improving an extended wrist. This is a low-prep busy bag type of activity that kids can play with at home or at the OT clinic while building fine motor skills needed for tasks like handwriting, scissor use, clothing management, tool use (like spoons, knives, and forks), and so much more.

    Super easy fine motor activity for improving an extended wrist and tripod grasp for kids, using household items like a colander and toothpicks.
     

     

     
    This post contains affiliate links.
     
    For this activity, you’ll need a (Amazon affiliate link) colander.  We used a plastic one that is as bright as it is perfect for rinsing garden lettuce.  I love that this one has one curved handle that makes using it for fine motor activities like this one perfect for developing bilateral coordination.  Kids can hold onto the curved handle while doing this easy fine motor activity.
     
    We also used summer themed party toothpicks similar to these (affiliate links) that we’ve had in our party supplies forever.  I’m really not even sure where these toothpicks came from, but it has to be true that everyone needs a pineapple party toothpick in their life, right??
     

    Fine Motor Toothpick Activity

    I showed my preschooler and toddler how to poke the toothpicks into the overturned colander.  As easy as that, our activity was on it’s way.
     
    Super simple activities make moms and kids happy.
     
    When my kiddos were stabbing the colander with summer-themed toothpicks, I was watching the positioning of their wrist and hand.  (Observation skills are ingrained in an Occupational Therapist…it might be something about those long OT school lab sessions and years of clinicals…)
     
    Poking the toothpicks into the holes of the overturned colander allows the wrist to be in an extended position while the fingers are positioned in a tripod or pincer grasp as they hold the toothpick.  Be sure to position the colander in an effective place.  If the child is on the floor they may ulnarly deviate (bend the wrist toward their pinkie finger) or flex the wrist.  
     
    Super easy fine motor activity for improving an extended wrist and tripod grasp for kids, using household items like a colander and toothpicks.
     
     
     
     
     
     

     

    More range of motion exercises for wrist

    Looking for more wrist extension activities? Try these: 

    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!

    Wrist range of motion

    The activities described in this blog post are fun ways to support wrist range of motion through play.

    Typical range of motion of the wrist is as follows:

    • Wrist Flexion: 0-90 degrees
    • Wrist Extension: 0-70 degrees
    • Radial Abduction: 0-20 degrees
    • Ulnar Abduction: 0-30 degrees

    These wrist range of motion degrees are rounded to the nearest numbers and some sources may include slight variances in ROM which is considered the average normal motion.

    wrist ROM exercises

    Wrist Range of Motion Exercises

    These Range of Motion Exercises for the Wrist are functional but also move the wrist through the full range of motion. We tried to include both strictly ROM exercises for wrist movements, but also functional wrist movements too.

    For example, using the colander and toothpick activity (or a colander and pipe cleaner activity), you can set out a certain number of toothpicks or pipe cleaners. Ask the individual to place that number into the holes of the colander while moving the wrist through wrist extension to position the item into the colander holes.

    Wrist ROM exercises include these for each motion of the wrist:

    1. Wrist Flexion- Holding objects and bending the wrist forward are great ROM exercises for wrist flexion.
      • Hold your forearm out with your palm facing down.
      • Use your opposite hand to gently push your hand and fingers downward. Hold for a few seconds and release.
      • Hold a hammer or something heavy and let the weight of the hammer pull the wrist into full flexion.
    2. Wrist Extension- Wrist extension ROM exercises can include holding objects like a stress ball and pulling the wrist back into an extended position.
      • Hold your forearm out with your palm facing up.
      • Use your opposite hand to gently push your hand and fingers upward.
      • Hold for a few seconds and release.
      • Use a hammer to pull the wrist into extension by flipping the forearm over into a supinated position on a table.
    3. Wrist Supination- Turning the forearm over so the palm is up.
      • Extend your arm in front of you with your palm facing down.
      • Slowly rotate your wrist to turn your palm upward.
      • Hold briefly, then return to the starting position.
      • Add repetitions with a hammer. Allow the hammer head to pull the wrist into more supination.
    4. Wrist Pronation: Turning the wrist toward the midline so the palm is facing down.
      • Extend your arm in front of you with your palm facing up.
      • Slowly rotate your wrist to turn your palm downward.
      • Hold briefly, then return to the starting position.
      • Use a hammer with the weight of the hammer head pulling the forearm into pronation.
    5. Wrist Circles- Gently rotate your wrist in a circular motion, first clockwise and then counterclockwise.
      • Start with small circles and gradually increase the size. This exercise improves overall wrist mobility.
    6. Ulnar Deviation: Turning the wrist toward the midline, moving toward the pinkie side of the hand
      • Hold your arm out with your palm facing up.
      • Tilt your wrist toward your little finger while keeping your hand and fingers straight.
      • Return the middle finger to midline.
    7. Radial Deviation: Turning the wrist away from midline, moving toward the thumb side of the hand.
      • Hold your arm out with your palm facing up.
      • Tilt your wrist toward your thumb while keeping your hand and fingers straight.

    Specific Wrist Range of Motion Exercises include:

    • Picking up small objects and placing them into containers, especially those on an inclined surface
    • Using hand gripper workout exercises with a stable wrist positioning.
    • Moving through wrist mobility exercises while saying the alphabet or counting
    • Using theraputty exercises
    • Pushups or wall push ups
    • Playing with a ribbon wand or a fairy wand
    • Making a letter rainbow exercise
    • Tendon glide range of motion exercises
    • Using rubber band traction to pull the wrist into full range of motion (PROM)

    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 contact@theottoolbox.com.