Small Muscle Games for Handwriting

Summary:  Tips for developing fine motor skills through games and other creative Occupational Therapy techniques.  This article outlines specific activities for hand strength, finger coordination, and for developing a mature grasp pattern.

Are your little ones struggling with writing their letters? Or do they have trouble holding their pencil comfortably, or grasp it very tightly? 

Or maybe you have a child who hates working in his handwriting book..... How about taking a break and doing some fun small muscle games instead?

"This is a great idea as when a child is struggling with writing they will not want to write, but they may want to play a “game!” Great post, BJ’s Homeschool."

Today, I'd like to share specific activities that are fun to do, and can help your kids to:

1.  Develop hand strength
2.  Develop finger coordination 
3.  Develop a mature grasp pattern

Often handwriting struggles come from either a lack of hand strength or poor fine finger coordination.  

These things can be improved by using fun, playful games.... And that can give your child a break from their handwriting routine, too!

Let's start with fun ways to develop hand strength...


A fun way to strengthen the finger muscles.

Squirt Bottle Art Activity

Squirt Bottle Art builds wrist and finger strength.  This is one of the small muscle activity cards from Play Pack - Fine Motor Focus. These cards show many more fun activities.

In Squirt Bottle Art, the child squirts colored water onto a sheet a paper that is taped to the fridge high up. 

That places the wrist in the right position for strength building.  

Next, I have an activity that good for strengthening the whole hand and the fingers, too.  It's called Pizza Party.

Do it with playdough, or do it with biscuit dough, and make a snack of it!
The Pizza Party Activity

Pizza Party is another great activity from the Play Pack cards.

First, your child makes a pizza from play dough, or biscuit dough, then cuts the pizza into slices with scissors.  It's FUN and strengthening at the same time. 

Adding toppings to the pizza, etc can provide even more helpful practice.  Have your child use the tips of his fingers to mold little tiny balls of clay/dough.

Next, let's look at finger coordination...


Activities such as cutting, drawing, finger painting, lego building, playing jacks, and playdough are all great activities to develop the finger muscles.  

The Cotton Ball Catch is a super on for coordination development.   

I also have a bunch of small muscle FUN coordination activities on my PDF here  9 FUN Ways to a Mature Grasp.

And finally, let's look at activities that can help develop a mature grasp of the pencil...


Developing a mature grasp pattern takes time.  In fact, little ones naturally start with a whole hand grasp, using the whole hand to grab their crayon or pencil.

Kids often start with this “palmar grip” pattern, which means holding the crayon in the palm of the hand, with the fingers wrapped around it.  

What does a mature grasp look like?  It can vary a lot, but here is a photo of what it looks like:


Some kids naturally move to a mature grasp pattern, over the years, as they grow, but some don't. 

Here's a fun game, to help encourage this more mature grasp:

Bubble Wrap Maze

For the Bubble Wrap Maze activity: 

Just get a piece of bubble wrap and let your kids pop the bubbles.

Popping the bubbles with the thumb, index and ring fingers, pressing together, like in the picture above can really help.

Make it a game and pinch along a path on the bubble wrap! Click here for my review of the Play Pack Fine Motor Cards.

Thanks for stopping by BJ's Homeschool,


Betsy is mom to her now college senior, whom she homeschooled from preK through high school.  She blogs at BJ's Homeschool, about the early yearshigh school & college and wrote - Homeschooling High School with College in Mind.   She offers free homeschool help through messages at BJ's Consulting

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