Toys for Pencil Grasp and Writing – MOSAIC Gift Guide Part II
MOSAIC’s toys for developing pencil grasp and writing are here with the Christmas holiday just around the corner! Along with the excitement of the season also comes the stress of finding that “perfect toy” for that special child. Toys are a BIG thing for occupational therapists. Therefore, we use toys to help guide a child’s development. We look for toys that help develop curiosity, problem solving, creativity, cause and affect, and/or motor skills, both gross and fine motor. Fine motor skills are important as they are the foundation to do everyday tasks such as buttoning, snapping, tying, grasping a pencil, and the list goes on! A child’s ability to hold and use the pencil fluently and effectively requires a number of skills. These skills include bilateral skills, using both sides of the body in a coordinated manner, and stabilization for posture.
What Fine Motor Skills are Important with Pencil Grasp and Handwriting?
- Pincer grasp – This is the neat “pinch” achieved between the thumb and index finger.
- Thumb opposition – The thumb rotates and reaches to touch all other fingertips of the same hand.
- Palmar arches – Picture making a circle by touching thumbs to finger tips or making “binoculars” with your hands. This refers to the arch formed when we “cup” our hands.
- Separation of the two sides of the hand – This is the use of the thumb, index, and third fingers of the hand while maintaining stability in the fourth and fifth fingers of the hand.
- Wrist stability and extension – This is the position of the wrist so that it is resting on the table and slightly extended so that the fingers can be used to control the pencil.
- Hand strength – This refers to the contraction of the hand muscles to grasp a pencil to control it without fatigue or pain.
- In-hand manipulation – This relates to the ability to move items around in the hand using precise finger movements and includes translation, rotation, and shift.
Finding toys that will help with developing pencil grasp does not need to be a daunting job because there are many simple and inexpensive options that kids will love!
Toys for Pencil Grasp and Writing
- Wind up toys
- Wikki Stix – use these waxed pieces to make shapes/letters/be creative
- Beads and lacing toys
- Tweezers, clothes pins, or chop sticks – use to pick up and sort items like beads/cereal/pompoms
- Play dough – roll, squeeze, stretch, or use tools such as plastic knifes/scissors/rolling pins
- Magnetic toys – magnetic tiles or blocks
- Tools sets – screw drivers, nuts, and bolts
- Marble games – marble mazes, marble runs
- Trigger toys – nerf gun, water pistols, Hungry Hippos
- Peg boards – Lite Brite, pegged puzzles
- Constructive toys – LEGO, Tinker Toys, K’nex
- Stickers and sticker books
- Dice games – Tenzi, Yahtzee, Farkle
- Stick toys – Kerplunk, Melissa & Doug Suspend, pick up sticks
In addition, there are a multitude of common items around your home that can be turned into great fine motor development activities. Look for buttons, paper clips, elastic bands, coins, toothpicks, plastic containers, and storage bags (open/close to get snacks or small toys), noodles (for stringing or sorting), bubble wrap, sponges…
Above all, let the child inside you be creative and use a few quick resources to help inspire your creativity.