63 Sneaky Ways to Work Writing Muscles

63 Ways to Work Writing Muscles from theyellowwoodschool.comIf we can work on a skill set without getting into obvious school mode, I’m thrilled. Handwriting practice can be painful for some children, so I try to offer some of these activities at least a few times weekly to help work on my kids’ finger grip strength, coordination, shoulder strength and stamina in a way that is fun and does not feel like work. Over time, I’ve gathered numerous occupational therapy ideas to help with writing muscles, so I decided to share my list here. I have kept this in simple list format as most of the activities don’t require explanation. This post contains some affiliate links (see disclosure page for more information). I hope this list will be a good jumping-off point for your own ideas!

  • tweezer and tong activities ( pick up/transfer items to bowl, ice cube tray, egg carton, muffin tin etc.)
  • pegboard activities
  • lacing toys or simple sewing
  • eat with trainer chopsticks (we have liked this and this or make your own trainer chopsticks)
  • style doll hair with mini clips
  • make friendship bracelets
  • build with modeling clay or wax
  • make letters out of clay worms
  • make paper airplanes and origami
  • trace the outline of a picture before coloring
  • draw tree or house upside down
  • use spray bottles to clean or water plants
  • use dropper during art or science activities (like coffee filters and liquid watercolors, or a tray of baking soda and dropping on vinegar)
  • write letters on paper (big);trace with glue from bottle, decorate with beans or small beads, etc (placed with tweezers)
  • string beads onto shoelaces, chenille stems, or wooden dowels
  • stack checkers with eyes closed
  • crumple small pieces of tissue paper, form balls, dip in glue, put on paper to make designs
  • use a turkey baster or bulb syringe to blow pingpong or cotton balls accross the room
  • make dot art with qtip and paint
  • cut paper of different thicknesses or textures
  • cut straws up and string a necklace
  • make a game of ripping index cards along a line or tearing cardboard
  • make a push-it toy with a lidded food container and push beans, marbles, or pom-poms through
  • have them use clothespins or clips to hang their art
  • trace stencils (easy to make your own)
  • spin tops
  • play with squirt toys in the bathtub or water table
  • fold and cut paper to make snowflakes
  • play jacks using only the thumb and index finger
  • make play-dough, mix with hands
  • make shadow puppets
  • race carrying a ball on a spoon (or an egg outside if you are brave)
  • build with plank blocks
  • play Jenga
  • play mystery bag (opaque cloth bag with random small objects, guess objects by sense of touch)
  • make cardboard puzzles (cut thick stuff)
  • arrange pattern blocks
  • use small pebbles or glass to make designs
  • make tissue paper flowers
  • stretch rubber bands over a geoboard (easy to make with wood and nails)
  • make designs on a Lite Brite and then remove the pegs
  • play with wind-up toys
  • build with legos
  • make snap bead chains
  • play Connect Four
  • push coins into piggy bank
  • make designs with glue and sequins
  • use small stickers to make pictures or stick down on sharpie outline

Don’t forget to work those shoulders!

  • wall push-ups
  • mount magnadoodles to the wall
  • throw a beach ball
  • yoga
  • practice wheelbarrow and crabwalking
  • tape mazes or connect the dots to the wall
  • write in 3-ring binder or clipboard (slanted)
  • draw on a chalkboard or whiteboard
  • play basketball
  • paint on an easel
  • write or draw with shaving cream on a window (or bathtub wall for easier cleanup)

Other grip helpers:

  • place cotton ball in palm, hold it with 4th/5th finger while writing
  • wrap 1 inch of piece of tape 1 inch above pencil tip
  • use short, stubby crayons or pencil
  • try triangle shaped pencil or different grips

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