Teaching Small Motor Skills for Successful Young Writers

Building up muscles in the youngest writer’s small fingers and hands can help develop their small motor skills and create confident writers. How do we build up these muscles and encourage a good tripod grasp (ability to hold pencil correctly)? It’s easier than one might think and can be taught through common playtime activities. Here are some fun ways to help kids increase muscle strength in their hands and fingers.


Cheerios or any other small cereal put on their high chair plate or in a baggie encourages the child to hold onto them until they reach their mouth, building strength and eye hand coordination. These are the same little fingers that will eventually hold a pencil.


Finger painting is great for developing small motor skills and eye hand coordination. Children are learning to control their fingers and create beginning writing pieces when painting. Remember, a child’s pictures are their first attempts at writing and story-telling.


Beading is a great small motor activity. Large wooden beads and shoe laces are great for beginners and for developing eye hand coordination and strengthening small muscles. Smaller beads are better for kids with more experience or stronger motor skills. Fruit loop necklaces are super fun and easy for beginners.


Squirt bottles are great for building strength. The repetitive squeezing motion is a fun way for kids to build their hand muscles. Have them water your plants, use them for fun in the bathtub or pool, or make pictures on the driveway with them!


Play dough is an all-time favorite muscle building activity. Plastic knives, cookie cutters, and a rolling pin are just a few tools kids can use with play dough. I love to make my own play dough and often add spices like cinnamon for the holidays or a packet of Kool Aid for a fun smell and color.


These are just a few ways to help small writers build up their hand and finger muscles. Digging in the dirt, planting, playing in sand, and sorting buttons into cups are a few more. Be creative and remember, “Play is the work of children.”   

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