Last Updated on October 5, 2023 by Editorial Team
At a time when our life is driven by technology, and we are typing on devices most of the time, talking about writing grips may feel less important. But there are instances when writing the conventional way is mandatory. For example, in school, holding the pen or pencil the right way improves the child’s handwriting and also makes it less stressful on the hand. To keep children interested in the art of handwriting some fun activities can be conducted by the educator.
When we write or draw, the muscles in our fingers, hands, wrists, and arms contract and extend to move the pencil across the writing surface. Our writing movements are controlled by vision and proprioception. Addressing this unique act of pencil gripping, in the post, we will discuss everything about pencil grip activities that you ought to know to help your kid with writing. Have a look below.
Pencil Grip for Kids: Purpose explored
Pencil grip for kids is a crucial step of learning as it helps them to write using their sensory, neuro, and abstract skills to develop hand, eye, and brain coordination. This act helps kids learn to spell and tutors them on how to write, read, and think simultaneously. But to concur with all this, it is important to know how to hold a pencil.
Most people use one of these four pencil grips while writing:
- Dynamic Tripod
- Lateral Tripod
- Dynamic Quadropod
- Lateral Quadropod
Although there is no correct or incorrect pencil grasp, it is imperative to know how to hold one and feel comfortable in it in order to pursue a seamless flow of writing. The aim of a proper pencil grasp is to be able to hold and use the pencil in a way that is not tiring and the child is able to carry out the writing tasks appropriate for his/her age comfortably.
A good pencil grip aids in developing legibility and speed. When a child’s handwriting is poor, it is possible that an incorrect grip of the pencil may be practiced by the child.
A correct pencil grip will enable the child to move the fingers, controlling the pencil or pen with efficient and effective finger movements. When the fingers can move freely with the right amount of control, the pencil can be used to form the different letters accurately.
Pencil grip development: How crucial?
Various studies have been carried out about the development of writing grip. Research has described five stages in the development of the pencil grip in a child. It is a skill that must be developed and reinforced as a child goes through different stages of motor skill development.
Children develop writing grip at their own pace, and every child goes through stages of experimenting with their grasp.
Poor pencil grips can result due to various factors like:
- Some children have weak finger muscles or fine motor weakness. This could prevent the child from having a proper pencil grip.
- Children with underdeveloped or weak muscles get tired very easily and this leads to frustration. This in turn leads to a lack of coordination which is very important for writing.
- The child might have emulated someone who has an incorrect pencil grip.
- Another surprising cause of incorrect pencil grasp is weak shoulder muscles.
- Sometimes the children are asked to grasp the pencil with their non-dominant hand which can lead to an uncomfortable grip for the child.
Most of the incorrect grips can be easily corrected with the help of tools. Special tools are also a very good resource to aid writing for the child with special needs.
Activities to help children with pencil grip
Helping kids with their pencil grasp can be straining. Here are some activities that are fun ways to improve pencil grasp with fine motor play.
1. Spraying with water bottles
Give the child a spray bottle filled with water. Encourage the child to go outdoors and spray water on the plants or try cleaning his or her toy bike. Let the child spray the side of the house, driveway, and sidewalk, with letters, numbers, pictures, and various designs.
Working with the spraying mechanism strengthens the child’s hand muscles. This helps to improve fine motor skills.
2. Sprinkling glitter
Provide the child with glue bottles and various colors of glitter. Give the child some pictures that are either drawn on cardstock or cut out from magazines. Instruct the child to squeeze out the glue on the image.
The child then has to pick up the glitter and fill the images with it. Invariably the grip that the child will use for this will be the tripod grasp and this will make the child more comfortable with using it while writing.
3. Stringing the beads
Get large colored beads and a length of thin rope or a string. Ask the child to string these beads. The activity can be made more enjoyable and value added by asking the child to string the beads according to colors or size.
This activity helps the child develop fine motor skills and therefore ease with the tripod grip. It also exercises the child’s hand-eye coordination which is an important skill for writing.
4. Tomato squeezy
Chop tomatoes into halves. Also, have some large eye droppers and liquid paint. Ask the child to squeeze the tomatoes into different bowls into which water is added. Into each bowl instruct the child to use the eye droppers and pick up drops of paint from one color at a time.
The colors are dropped into the tomato and water bowls by squeezing the dropper. The child now has different colors of ‘tomato’ water. The squeezing of the tomatoes and the dropper are both activities that enhance fine motor skills and exercise the fingers. An added value is the recognition of colors too. The activity is exciting for the child as there are so many senses activated at the same time.
5. Go to school
On a large piece of white paper draw different pictures related to the child at home and school. Preferably the pictures must depict elements used when the child gets ready for school.
For example pictures of a shower, a toothbrush, clothes, shoes, lunch box, school bag, books, and a school bus.
Give the child a felt pen or a marker and the child to join all these pictures in the right sequence by connecting them through lines or curves. It is a fun activity and the child will also try to reason out and recollect the sequence of events. The drawing of lines with a pen will help in developing the pencil grasp. The activity can be made more enjoyable by asking the child to color the pictures as well.
6. Applying Nail polish
This is an activity the child will really enjoy. The child might often observe a family member applying nail polish and at some point would want to try the same. Cut out large finger-shaped cardboard pieces. Draw the image of a fingernail on it.
Give the child either nontoxic nail polish or crayons to paint on it. The pencil grip that is required and the control of the polish brush will improve the fine motor skills of the child. The activity can be turned into a role play one to increase the fun element and ensure the child is enthusiastic about it.
7. Rainbow making
Draw seven lines on a large cardboard in the shape of a rainbow. Get large buttons of the colors of the rainbow and mix them up in a jar or a bowl. Ask the child to pick up one button at a time and arrange it on the lines according to the sequence in the rainbow. Every time the child picks up a button encourage him/ her to name the color too.
Once all the buttons are used up the child will have a rainbow ready. The child learns the grip by picking up the buttons and placing them on the cardboard. Learning the colors of the rainbow along with this is an added advantage.
8. Lids on jars
This is a very easy activity with objects that are easily available in the kitchen. Source bottles and jars of various sizes. Unscrew the bottles and jars and mix up the lids. Ask the child to try and fix lids on all of them one by one by trial and error.
This activity exercises the fingers and hands of the child which is a very important aspect of developing a favorable pencil grasp. It helps the learner to also gain an insight into the concept of size.
To sum it up, although we have moved on to more typing and devices with touch screens, writing remains an important skill to learn.
Pencils and notebooks may appear to be boring for little kids so giving them toys or engaging them in activities that can enhance the pencil grip is a good idea. While there isn’t only one correct way to hold a pencil, one of the preferred ways for effective handwriting is called the tripod grasp. A child whose handwriting is slow and labored may need additional support and time.
- Selin, Ann-Sofie. (2003). Pencil grip. A descriptive model and four empirical studies.
I am Shweta Sharma. I am a final year Masters student of Clinical Psychology and have been working closely in the field of psycho-education and child development. I have served in various organisations and NGOs with the purpose of helping children with disabilities learn and adapt better to both, academic and social challenges. I am keen on writing about learning difficulties, the science behind them and potential strategies to deal with them. My areas of expertise include putting forward the cognitive and behavioural aspects of disabilities for better awareness, as well as efficient intervention. Follow me on LinkedIn