Archive for June, 2012

Activities for Pencil Grip Development – Using a Vertical Surface

In a previous article (see Pencil
Grip Development
), I mentioned I would cover some exercises that could be
used to strengthen the muscles required to develop a good pencil grip. The
exercise below is one that would fall into the first category I mentioned in
that article – it will strengthen the muscles that hold your body up, and
control the arm.
 

Most little ones (and adults too for that
matter) do the majority of their work on a horizontal surface – generally a
table, or the floor. A very simple way to add strengthening work into their
everyday craft activities is to have them use a vertical surface instead.
 

This is extremely simple to put into
practice – either through the use of an easel, or by sticking a sheet of paper
onto a wall or window.

Obviously, this can then be used for any
number of activities – use paints, markers, crayons, stamps, stickers etc –
anything that your little one enjoys will be just as much, or more, fun on a
vertical surface – sometimes the novelty value will even add to the kid’s
enjoyment!
 

“Painting” a fence or a wall is another
good way to get kids working on a vertical surface. Give your little one a
bucket of water, a paintbrush, and point them at the surface they can work on,
and watch as they create a water masterpiece (obviously, this is best done
outdoors!).
 

Working on a vertical surface will assist
in a couple of ways. It will help to strengthen the shoulder muscles, which
play a large part in controlling the whole arm movements that are common in an
early pencil grip. As a result of the hand position required to work on a
vertical surface, it also encourages strength in the hand and wrist.
 

As with any exercise programs, repetition is the
key to success, so make sure the activities are exciting and fun for the kids,
and you will see the strength and skill develop as a part of their everyday
“play”.

Pencil Grip Development

Children develop their pencil grip at
different times, though it generally does follow a pattern. 

Generally your little one
will firstly grip their pencil with a “fisted grip” (see image 1 below). During this stage children
use whole arm movements to draw, most of the movement comes from the shoulder.
 

Image 1 – Fisted Grip

As kid’s shoulders, arms and hands become
stronger they begin to grip their pencil in the palm of their hand with palm
facing down. There is now more elbow movement when drawing.
 

 

Image 2 – Palm Down

 The next way a child holds their pencil is
called an ‘immature 5 finger grasp’, (it is quite normal for a four year old to
hold a pencil this way). There is more wrist movement used for colouring and
generally the fingers grip the pencil very tightly. 

Most children 5-7 years, grip a pencil with
a mature three finger grip. As your child’s hand and fingers become stronger,
independent finger movements will be used when drawing.

Image 3 – three finger grip

Kids will swap their
grip around as their muscles tire. 

Fine motor activities to encourage the development of a good pencil grip are largely strengthening exercizes, and most fall into the following 2 categories:

1. Activities to strengthen the muscles that hold your body up, and control the arm

and

2. Activities to strengthen the muscles that control drawing movements, and those that grip the pencil.

My next few articles will cover some fine motor activities that focus on strengthening these muscles, which you can use to assist your little one with their pencil grip development.