Help With Pen/Pencil Grasp?

by Amanda
(Waterloo, Canada)

Lucas is 4 and has started JrK. He is really enjoying it although having a tough time with writing skills. He is doing OT and school ready skills with them. I almost daily do some kind of writing skills with him. Lucas has weak grasp of his pen/pencil. He has a hard time with hand/arm alignment. He also has a hard time with fine motor and coloring.

Are there any non-writing activities to help him?


Sounds like his system needs to be "primed" first. I would hope his OT would have taught you these things. Please talk to her about your concerns... she should be addressing them.

Meanwhile... here are some great suggestions, taken straight from one of my OT Textbooks, Occupational Therapy For Children:

Preparation Activities:

General Tactile Awareness Activities

1. Using Crazy Foam
2. Using shaving cream
3. Applying hand lotion
4. Finger painting

Activities Involving Proprioceptive Input

1. Weight bearing-- wheelbarrow, activities on a small ball
2. Pushing heavy objects
3. Pulling (tug-of-war)
4. Pressing different parts of the hand into clay
5. Pushing fingers into clay or therapy putty
6. Pushing shapes out of perforated cardboard
7. Tearing packages or boxes open
8. Playing clapping games


Involving Regulation Of Pressure

1. Tearing edges off computer paper
2. Rolling clay into ball
3. Squeezing water out of a sponge or washcloth
4. Pushing snaps together

Activities Involving Tactile Discrimination

1. Doing finger games and songs
2. Playing finger identification games
3. Discriminating objects with the object stabilized
4. Discriminating shapes with the shape stabilized
5. Writing on the body and indentifying the shape, letter, or object drawn
6. Discriminating textures

(Jane Case-Smith, Anne S. Allen, and Patt Nuse Pratt, 1996)

Also, remember, shoulder and arm stability need to be developed before fine motor skills come. Talk to your OT about ways this can be accomplished.

As for fine motor activities... other ideas include using a weighted pen/pencil, building up the handle of the writing instrument so it is thicker, using small chunk crayons, using putty and hand exercisers or stress balls to strengthen his hands/arms/fingers, games such as Hungry Hungry Hippos, Ants In The Pants, Play Doh Factory, Operation, and/or arts & crafts.

Additional ideas/resources/games:

Fine Motor Skills Activities For Children Article

Pre-Scissor Skills Article
(good preparatory toys/exercise products here too)


Preparation/Proprioceptive Input Prior To Fine Motor Tasks...
Use Heavy Work Activities

Other fine motor/hand skills books and resources... just click here.

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Requires suggestion for pen grip r pencil
by: Anonymous

I recently underwent CTS now the pain in the wrist side and at the thumb and middle finger has reduced drastically, but my hand writing has not improved i still not able to grasp the pen r pencil, my hands gets tired early can you please guide in regaining the finger grips.

my age is 40 years

thank u


Help with pen/pencil grasp
by: Heidi

Another way to help w/writing is to use an easel or a 3 ring binder so that the paper is propped up, this will force the child to maintain the tripod grip. Also, you can do the putty that dries around the pencil... it can conform to the child's grip so they know how to hold the writing utensil. Last but not least, against all your better judgment, break the crayons, if they only have the tip to write with, once again it, forces them to use the correct grip!!!!

Take care,
Washington SPDparentshare Host

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