The Quick Long List of Pencil Grasp Activities

An effective pencil grasp is one that allows for the greatest amount of finger movement and the least amount of fatigue in the hand muscles. This requires hand and finger strength, finger isolation, manual dexterity, and wrist stability. Here is a quick list of activities to help. 

Pressure Grading (knowing how much force to appropriately use): 

  • Use a mechanical pencil
  • Drawing or writing on tissue paper 
    • Another option is to place paper on a soft surface and drawing on it
  • Lining up Dominos on their ends or sides without knocking them over 
  • Playing a game of Jenga
  • Picking up chips or crackers with tweezers without breaking them
  • Using an eye dropper to squeeze out water one drop at a time

Rotation (coordinating an object between the thumb and fingertips):

  • Threading nuts on and off bolts
  • Screwing and unscrewing jar lids or plastic bottles
  • Spinning tops
  • Playing with combination locks
  • Rotating puzzle pieces to fit correctly
  • Playing with a shape sorter

Translation (coordinating objects between the palm of the hand and fingers, in only one hand):

  • Rolling small balls of Play-Doh or Silly Putty between the thumb and index finger
  • Use golf pencils or broken chalk when drawing or writing
  • Holding several different coins in one hand and putting them into a piggy bank
    • Another option is to sort them by using only their thumb and index finger
  • Crumple paper in one hand
  • Pick up small objects and hold them with one hand, like picking up Cheerios after a small spill
  • Holding Cheerios or raisins in one hand and eating them one at a time 

Hand and Finger Strength:

  • Clipping and removing clothespins 
  • Squeezing the trigger of a spray bottle
  • Stringing beads or lacing cards
  • Wringing out sponges
  • Using tongs or tweezers to pick up a variety of objects 
  • Board games that use tweezers or tongs, like Operation
  • Popping bubble wrap with fingers
  • Buttoning, snapping, and zipping clothes (or doll clothes)
  • Untying knots in shoelaces, ribbon, or thick yarn

Wrist Stability:

  • Drawing, painting, writing on a vertical surface
  • Playing on a vertical surface, like magnets on a fridge or window gel clings 
  • Using a rolling pin to flatten Play-Doh (make sure the hands are open and not closed around the handles)
  • Weightbearing activities like crawling, wheelbarrow walks, or Yoga

For more activities, check out our Activities list and the Child(ish) Advice Pinterest page

“What are in Hand Manipulation Skills?”, Your Therapy Source.
Pencil Grasp Activities, Skill Builders Online.
“Hand Arches”, Therapy Street for Kids.

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