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Pencil Grips / handwriting

(18 Posts)
jasperc163 Sun 07-Aug-11 12:55:37

DD1 has just finished reception. They didn't do that much writing so I am not overly concerned but I notice that her grip is wrong (fingers crossed over etc) and would at least like to try to help her correct this. I bought the Penagain Twist Pencils after reading positive reviews on here but she struggles to use them (I notice that her index finger is a bit short for her to get it far enough down towards the nib - she finds it uncomfortable). Has anyone got any good alternatives that they can suggest?


IndigoBell Sun 07-Aug-11 13:04:41

assorted pencil grips

mrz Sun 07-Aug-11 14:00:22

midnightexpress Sun 07-Aug-11 14:07:15

Someone on here recommended getting them to write on a vertical surface, which somehow forces them to use the correct grip, so I got ds1 (who is left-handed, and was having some difficulties) a small whiteboard and markers and he now has a perfect grip. I think the novelty of the wb and the fact that it was like his teacher's one at school meant that he used it loads for a month or two, so got loads of practice as well.

mrz Sun 07-Aug-11 14:16:06

That would be me grin

Fine Motor Skills
Things to remember:

Upright working surfaces promote fine motor skills. Examples of these are: vertical chalkboards; easels for painting; flannel boards; lite bright; magnet boards (or fridge); windows and mirrors; white boards, etc. Children can also make sticker pictures; do rubber ink-stamping; use reuseable stickers to make pictures; complete puzzles with thick knobs; use magna-doodle and etch-a-sketch as well. The benefits for these include: having the child's wrist positioned to develop good thumb movements; they help develop good fine motor muscles; the child is using the arm and shoulder muscles.
Fine Motor Activities
Moulding and rolling play dough into balls - using the palms of the hands facing each other and with fingers curled slightly towards the palm.
Rolling play dough into tiny balls (peas) using only the finger tips.
Using pegs or toothpicks to make designs in play dough.
Cutting play dough with a plastic knife or with a pizza wheel by holding the implement in a diagonal volar grasp.
Tearing newspaper into strips and then crumpling them into balls. Use to stuff scarecrow or other art creation.
Scrunching up 1 sheet of newspaper in one hand. This is a super strength builder.
Using a plant sprayer to spray plants, (indoors, outdoors) to spray snow (mix food colouring with water so that the snow can be painted), or melt "monsters". (Draw monster pictures with markers and the colours will run when sprayed.)
Picking up objects using large tweezers such as those found in the "Bedbugs" game. This can be adapted by picking up Cheerios, small cubes, small marshmallows, pennies, etc., in counting games.
Shaking dice by cupping the hands together, forming an empty air space between the palms.
Using small-sized screwdrivers like those found in an erector set.
Lacing and sewing activities such as stringing beads, Cheerios, macaroni, etc.
Using eye droppers to "pick up" coloured water for colour mixing or to make artistic designs on paper.
Rolling small balls out of tissue paper, then gluing the balls onto construction paper to form pictures or designs.
Turning over cards, coins, checkers, or buttons, without bringing them to the edge of the table.
Making pictures using stickers or self-sticking paper reinforcements.
Playing games with the "puppet fingers" -the thumb, index, and middle fingers. At circle time have each child's puppet fingers tell about what happened over the weekend, or use them in songs and finger plays.

Place a variety of forms (eg. blocks, felt, paper, string, yarn, cereal, cotton) on outlines
Match shapes, colour, or pictures to a page and paste them within the outlines

Self-Care Skills
Fastening Snaps
Using a screwdriver
Locking and unlocking a door
Winding a clock
Opening and closing jars
Rolling out dough or other simple cooking activities
Washing plastic dishes
Sweeping the floor
Scissor Activities
When scissors are held correctly, and when they fit a child's hand well, cutting activities will exercise the very same muscles which are needed to manipulate a pencil in a mature tripod grasp. The correct scissor position is with the thumb and middle finger in the handles of the scissors, the index finger on the outside of the handle to stabilize, with fingers four and five curled into the palm.
Cutting junk mail, particularly the kind of paper used in magazine subscription cards.
Making fringe on the edge of a piece of construction paper.
Cutting play dough or clay with scissors.
Cutting straws or shredded paper.
Use a thick black line to guide cutting the following:
A fringe from a piece of paper
Cut off corners of a piece of paper
Cut along curved lines
Cut lines with a variety of angles
Cut figures with curves and angles

Sensory Activities
The following activities ought to be done frequently to increase postural muscle strength and endurance. These activities also strengthen the child's awareness of his/her hands.
Wheelbarrow walking, crab walking
Clapping games (loud/quiet, on knees together, etc.)
Catching (clapping) bubbles between hands
Pulling off pieces of thera-putty with individual fingers and thumb
Drawing in a tactile medium such as wet sand, salt, rice, or "goop". Make "goop" by adding water to cornstarch until you have a mixture similar in consistency to toothpaste. The "drag" of this mixture provides feedback to the muscle and joint receptors, thus facilitating visual motor control.
Picking out small objects like pegs, beads, coins, etc., from a tray of salt, sand, rice, or putty. Try it with eyes closed too. This helps develop sensory awareness in the hands.

Midline Crossing
Establishment of hand dominance is still developing at this point. The following activities will facilitate midline crossing:
Encourage reaching across the body for materials with each hand. It may be necessary to engage the other hand in an activity to prevent switching hands at midline.
Refrain specifically from discouraging a child from using the left hand for any activity. Allow for the natural development of hand dominance by presenting activities at midline, and allowing the child to choose freely.
Start making the child aware of the left and right sides of his body through spontaneous comments like, "kick the ball with your right leg." Play imitation posture games like "Simon Says" with across the body movements.
When painting at easel, encourage the child to paint a continuous line across the entire paper- also from diagonal to diagonal.

Activities To Develop Handwriting Skills
There are significant prerequisites for printing skills that begin in infancy and continue to emerge through the preschool years. The following activities support and promote fine motor and visual motor development:
Body Stability
The joints of the body need to be stable before the hands can be free to focus on specific skilled fine motor tasks.
Wheelbarrow walking, crab walking, and wall push-ups.
Toys: Orbiter, silly putty, and monkey bars on the playground.

Fine Motor Skills
When a certain amount of body stability has developed, the hands and fingers begin to work on movements of dexterity and isolation as well as different kinds of grasps. Children will develop fine motor skills best when they work on a VERTICAL or near vertical surface as much as possible. In particular, the wrist must be in extension. (Bent back in the direction of the hand)
Attach a large piece of drawing paper to the wall. Have the child use a large marker and try the following exercises to develop visual motor skills:Make an outline of a one at a time. Have the child trace over your line from left to right, or from top to bottom. Trace each figure at least 10 times . Then have the child draw the figure next to your model several times.
Play connect the dots. Again make sure the child's strokes connect dots from left to right, and from top to bottom.
Trace around stencils - the non-dominant hand should hold the stencil flat and stable against the paper, while the dominant hand pushes the pencil firmly against the edge of the stencil. The stencil must be held firmly.
Attach a large piece of felt to the wall, or use a felt board. The child can use felt shapes to make pictures. Magnetic boards can be used the same way.
Have the child work on a chalkboard, using chalk instead of a marker. Do the same kinds of tracing and modeling activities as suggested above.
Paint at an easel. Some of the modeling activities as suggested above can be done at the easel.
Magna Doodle- turn it upside down so that the erasing lever is on the . Experiment making vertical, horizontal, and parallel lines.

Ocular Motor Control
This refers to the ability of the eyes to work together to follow and hold an object in the line of vision as needed.
Use a flashlight against the ceiling. Have the child lie on his/her back or tummy and visually follow the moving light from left to right, to bottom, and diagonally.
Find hidden pictures in books. (There are special books for this.)
Maze activities.

Eye-hand Coordination
This involves accuracy in placement, direction, and spatial awareness.
Throw bean bags/kooshi balls into a hula hoop placed flat on the floor. Gradually increase the distance.
Play throw and catch with a ball . Start with a large ball and work toward a smaller ball. (Kooshi balls are easier to catch than a tennis ball.)
Practice hitting bowling pins with a ball. (You can purchase these games or make your own with pop bottles and a small ball.)
Play "Hit the Balloon" with a medium-sized balloon

midnightexpress Sun 07-Aug-11 15:15:07

That's it Mrz! I thought it was you, but wasn't sure. Anyway, OP, it worked a treat for DS1 (so thanks to Mrz too, now that I can attribute them correctly grin)

jasperc163 Mon 08-Aug-11 12:04:17

thanks for all the help and suggestions - will give some of them a go.

Mrz - would you say the stabilo pens are better than the grips? Anyone used the crossover ones?

mrz Mon 08-Aug-11 12:26:37

I'm not a fan of pencil grips personally and would only use the pens with children who experience "real" (pronounced) difficulty with producing a mark using a pencil.
Using a 2B rather than a Hb can help some children as it requires less pressure to make a mark and slides over the surface of the paper more easily.

clangermum Mon 08-Aug-11 12:45:35

fantastic list - thanks mrz

alison222 Mon 08-Aug-11 16:46:34

tried grips with DS. They were not good - he spent more time taking them off the pencil and playing with them than using them. - this year he has used a stabilo pencil and it helped enormously ( together with OT exercises and handwriting classes)

JemimaMuddledUp Mon 08-Aug-11 16:52:52

Try using the princess finger method. Buy a cheap ring - the blingier the better. This is the princess ring. Only one finger can wear the ring - the first finger, which from now on is known as the princess finger. The princess finger is in charge of everything to do with writing, and is a bit of a bossy little madam TBH. Only she gets to sit on top of the pencil when writing as she is very special and bossy All of the other lesser fingers have to bow down to her and tuck in underneath.

I used a variant of this with DS2 and painted his first finger nail gold, making it King Finger the Knight of the Writing Table. It worked a treat!

jasperc163 Mon 08-Aug-11 18:49:17

thanks all - I have ordered the stabilo pens and in the meantime I am trying the nail varnish princess finger - she is very pleased with the idea.

Will also work on your more general suggestions mrz.

jasperc163 Wed 10-Aug-11 15:59:24

Stabilo pens have arrived (DD not tried them yet). Having looked on the website I realise I don't hold my pen right either and have not used this 'dynamic tripod grasp' either - where the pen rests on the middle finger underneath. Is this the way she should be being taught in school?

mrz Wed 10-Aug-11 16:16:46

The tripod grip is the conventional and most effective method but really any efficient grip is fine

other common effective grips

Tripod grasp with open web space: The pencil is held with the tip of the thumb and index finger and rests against the side of the third finger. The thumb and index finger form a circle.

Quadripod grasp with open web space: The pencil is held with the tip of the thumb, index finger, and third finger and rests against the side of the fourth finger. The thumb and index finger form a circle.

Adaptive tripod or D'Nealian grasp: The pencil is held between the index and third fingers with the tips of the thumb and index finger on the pencil. The pencil rests against the side of the third finger near its end.

jasperc163 Wed 10-Aug-11 16:34:27

thanks Mrz. I will start with the Tripod Grasp and see if she can get used to it. At the moment she is curling her middle finger around over the top of the pen (and index finger) if that makes sense. I made some progress though yesterday with the 'princess finger' idea.

jasperc163 Sun 21-Aug-11 14:24:18

Quick question - DD is getting on better with the Stabilo pen/pencil and is now pretty much automatically holding it in the correct grip (but she reverts back to her old fist type grip with normal pencils at the moment). I am assuming it isn't possible to send her in to school with a pencil case and ask that she continues to use these (she is starting Yr1)? It just seems a pity for any progress to be undone at this point?

mrz Sun 21-Aug-11 15:12:44

I usually buy them for my class but I wouldn't object to a child using any tools supplied from home if they help.

jasperc163 Sun 21-Aug-11 15:34:28

thanks Mrz. I just didn't know if teachers were not keen on children bringing stationary in that they then had to keep track of (at this age). I will ask when term starts then.

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