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Activities to Improve Pencil Grasp

written by: Janelle Cox • edited by: Tania Cowling • updated: 9/30/2015

An efficient pencil grasp in preschool-age children is important in order for them to become good at printing and handwriting. Here are some activities to help preschoolers improve their grip, strength and overall hand development.

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    The Tripod Grip

    In order for preschoolers to write comfortably and correctly they should be using the tripod grip. According to, “The Good Grip pencil should be positioned so that there is equal pressure between the thumb, the side of the middle finger and the tip of the index finger. All fingers are bent slightly. This is called a "tripod grip" or "tripod pencil grasp".

    A proficient pencil grasp in preschool age children is an important quality in order to learn how to print and write. In order for preschoolers to develop the proper grasp, they need the ability to move their fingers in isolation from one another and have sufficient hand and wrist stability. The following activities will help your young students develop those skills.

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    Activities for Strength & Hand Development


    General hand development

    1. Have children walk on their hands or pretend they are animals and crawl around on the floor.
    2. Roll objects such as Playdoh, silly putty or clay between their hands.
    3. Have children hold as much as they can of sand in their cupped hand.

    Muscle strength development

    1. Play with Playdoh, clay or silly putty.
    2. Wring out a sponge
    3. String beads on a necklace.

    Wrist strength development

    1. Have children use a rolling pin with their hands open to flatten out objects.
    2. Draw on a chalkboard or whiteboard that is positioned above eye level.
    3. Screw and unscrew lids of jars.

    Improve hand pressure ability

    1. Pick up mini marshmallows with tweezers.
    2. Pick up a grain of rice one by one with index finger and thumb.
    3. Use a nasal aspirator to blow Styrofoam balls back and forth.

    Ability to hold and use fingers simultaneously

    1. Roll small objects between index finger and thumb.
    2. Hold and squeeze a squirt gun.
    3. Have the children hold a few pennies and dimes in one hand and sort using only their index finger and thumb.

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    Games & Activities That Improve Fine Motor Skills

    1. Play the classic board game "Operation" by Hasbro. The students hold tweezers to manipulate items without getting buzzed.
    2. Have children create finger plays to go with a song or story.
    3. Practice using chop sticks to pick things up.
    4. Use lacing cards.
    5. Play with puzzles that have pegs for the children to grasp.
    6. Build with Legos.
    7. Play with a Light Bright
    8. Play with a magna-doodle.
    9. Play with an etch-a-sketch
    10. Write on a chalk board.
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    Children usually develop and refine their pencil grasp during the ages of 3 to 6 years. Preschoolers should be encouraged to engage in activities that promote using their fine motor skills. Don't let them develop bad habits at a young age because it could affect their ability to write neatly as they move through elementary school.

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    Lessons and Tips on Holding a Pencil from

    Image Credit:

    Pencil photo: by Kakisky