Work on Tripod Grasp (and Pencil Grasp) with Everyday Items

Did you know you can work on tripod grasp using everyday items found around the home? There are so many ways to improve pencil grasp and the fine motor skills needed for strong hands using materials like cardboard boxes, straws, and other household items. Here, you’ll find fun ways to improve tripod grasp with the items you already have in your home. Also be sure to check out our blog post on grasp patterns, as understanding various grasps can make the process easier.

Work on tripod grasp using everyday items found around the home.

It’s the everyday items that help a household to run that are seen by children and experimented with in playful ways.    

“How fast can I push this basket across the carpet?”   

“Can I stab this spoon into the dirt of that potted plant?”   

Kids experiment through play and while they are antagonizing the Spider Plant in the corner, they are learning so much. They are building and developing skills that they need for handwriting, buttoning, and cutting with scissors.  

Sometimes it’s the everyday household objects that are so much more fun than toys!  

Today’s tips use everyday items to work on a fine motor skill that kids need for handwriting: tripod grasp!   Recently, I shared with you a series of 31 Days of Occupational Therapy.  It was a fun series, and I loved sharing tips using free or mostly free items. Today, I’ve got an activity that almost made the series, but I just ran out of days. This tripod grasp activity is a fun one in our house .

Work on tripod grasp using everyday household items. Tips from an Occupational Therapist.

Tripod Grasp with Straws

  This post contains affiliate links.   This tripod grasp activity was one that we put together one day while cleaning out a cupboard.  I shared it over on Instagram recently.  

This Peg Board with 1000 Pegs is one that I’ve had in my OT treatment bag for 20+ years.  It’s one of my favorite treatment tools for working on so many areas.  Push small pegs into the holes to work on in-hand manipulation, tripod grasp, and pincer grip. Copy designs with pegs and work on hand-eye coordination, visual scanning, visual perceptual skills, form constancy, and more. Turn it over and use the back as a mini geoboard with string small loops. Tilt it on a slant and work on an extended surface.  This little pegboard has been used by tons of kids working on so many skills.  It really is one of my all-time favorite OT activities.   

I love that I now get to share this pegboard with my own kids.     

Work on tripod grasp using everyday household items. Tips from an Occupational Therapist.

 We pulled out a handful of straws from a box of juice drinks.  These straws were left over from a party where we didn’t use the straws.  You could save small straws like this from juice drinks and wash them out.     I showed my daughter how to push the straws into the peg holes and she took over, arranging the straws over and over again.  We then used cut up pieces of straws and threaded them onto the straw pegs.   

Work on tripod grasp with straws

Using a material like straws to develop fine motor strength and dexterity is just one way to work on tripod grasp with everyday items.

Cut a straw into small pieces and thread them onto the juice straws.  Picking up the small straw “beads” and threading them onto the juice straws is a great way to work on tripod grasp.  

Using the thumb, index finger, and middle finger to pick up small items uses a tripod grasp.  This efficient grasp is needed to hold a pencil effectively while handwriting.  The small straw pieces require an open thumb web space and defined arches of the hands.  What a fine motor workout this is!  

Improve tripod grasp with everyday household items

 Ok, so say you don’t have juice box straws to use in a pegboard.  You can use a variety of other household items in a similar way to work on a tripod grasp.

  • Push toothpicks into a spice container.
  • Thread beads onto dry spaghetti poked into play dough.  (Work on color matching with this one, too!)
  • Thread cereal onto string.
  • Push acorns into play dough.
  • Drop dry beans into small containers.
  • Press sticks into play dough.
  • Position washers onto screws.
  • Paint with small squares of cut up kitchen sponges.
  • Press push pins into a bulletin board or recycled containers.
  • Push golf tees into a shoe box.
  • Press game pieces into play dough.
  • Use tweezers to place small balls of tissue paper into a container.
  • Push small pieces of pipe cleaners into a cardboard box.

Work on tripod grasp using everyday household items. Tips from an Occupational Therapist.


These are some of my favorite every day items to work on tripod grasp.  You might find them in a junk drawer or in a closet somewhere.  Use them to work on a tripod grasp and efficient handwriting:  

These Colorful golf tees are bright and colorful, and perfect for pressing into stryofoam or thing cardboard. 

Straws can be cut into small pieces and used as beads. Thread them onto pipe cleaners, string, or other straws. 

Screws, nuts, and bolts are a great way to work on tripod grasp and other fine motor skills like in-hand manipulation and rotation. 

Cotton swabs make a great writing utensil. Work on tripod grasp while painting with them.

Use Push Pins to work on tripod grasp like we did here. Watch the pointy end with younger kids! 

Use a Kitchen sponge to work on a tripod grasp by cutting the sponge into small squares. Squeeze water to fill a container, or use them to paint.

More tripod grasp activities you will love:

free pencil grasp challenge


Want to know how to fix a problem with pencil grasps? Need help knowing where to start when it comes to immature pencil grasps or a child hating to write because their hand hurts? The Pencil Grasp Challenge in open for you! In this free, 5 day email series, you’ll gain information, resources, specific activities designed to promote a functional, efficient pencil grasp.

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

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

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

Click here to join the Pencil Grasp Challenge.

Colleen Beck, OTR/L 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

tripod grasp using household items

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