This simple idea is a great way to promote pencil grasp development, particularly when working toward dynamic movement in the tripod grasp.
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Pencil Grasp Development
Pencil grasp development is something we OTs look closely at as kids make their way from toddlerhood to preschool and then to school age. The reason it’s so important is that a solid grasp pattern is the foundation for efficient handwriting and drawing as kids get older. A mature grasp pattern ensures that kids don’t get fatigued while they’re writing and it also ensures that they’re able to keep up with the pace of their peers as they are writing and taking notes in the classroom.
Static and Dynamic Tripod Grasps
One aspect of pencil grasp development that we look for is the transition from a static tripod grasp to a dynamic tripod grasp. In a static tripod grasp, the child is holding the pencil or writing utensil with the thumb, first finger, and second finger. However, when they write or draw, those fingers stay in the same position and the movement comes from the arm, elbow, and/or shoulder.
In a dynamic tripod grasp, the movement comes from the fingers, with the forearm and wrist resting on the surface. This grasp typically develops as kids are heading into school age (5-6 years old).
How to Promote Pencil Grasp Development
I recently noticed that my 4-year-old, who has been really interested in coloring and drawing lately, was holding his marker/crayon too far away from the tip and using his whole arm to do the work of coloring. While he is still young to be demonstrating a real dynamic tripod grasp, he was getting frustrated when he couldn’t keep the marks in the lines of the shape he was coloring. So I found a way to work on it and support this skill for younger kids.
We were coloring in this coloring book (he loves to color and I love Alexander Girard, so we were both happy :) and I noticed that some of the pages had sections where the background was black and the spaces on the page were white – in contrast to typical coloring pages that have a white background and white pictures to color in.
I realized that those pages really encouraged him to rest his hand down on the page, hold his marker closer to the tip, and produce the coloring movement from his fingers rather than from his whole arm.
So, because I’m obsessed with making printables, I decided to create a few coloring pages like this – with a black background and smaller white spaces to color inside.
Grab your copy now for only $2.99!
Other Ideas to Promote a Dynamic Tripod Grasp
1 || Coloring or writing in prone is a great way to work on this skill because kids are forced to keep their elbows down on the floor to support their upper bodies.
2 || Wrap colored tape around the pencil to indicate where the child should hold it. This can help the child move his or her fingers closer to the tip of the writing utensil, which encourages them to rest their hand on the paper.
3 || Cut the ends off of pencil erasers (so they look like cylinders without the tip you use to erase). Challenge kids to slide the cylinders from one end of the pencil to the other using only their dominant hand, inching the cylinder up and down the pencil.
What are your favorite ways to work on pencil grasp development?