The ultimate programme to help children’s pencil grasp development.

Supporting Pencil Grasp Development is a programme published by occupational therapist Kim Griffin to help to develop a child’s pencil grasp and pencil control. The programme is suitable for children from three and a half to eight years of age. It is designed for children who are learning to hold a pencil and for those who need extra help to develop a functional pencil grasp.

The programme includes a warm-up song, activities to help develop the fine motor skills needed for a functional pencil grasp and over 400 worksheets. It can be used with an individual child, with a small group or as a whole class intervention. It is available in both a book and online format.

adult supporting child with pencil grasp

Supporting Pencil Grasp Development is suitable for:

  • Children from 3 ½ years of age who are developing their pencil grasp and control

  • All children aged 4-8

  • Any child that has a poorly developed pencil grasp or holds their pencil awkwardly for their age

  • A child that has poor pencil control for their age

The programme includes:

  • Background information on general grasp and pencil grasp development

  • Instructions on how to run the programme with individuals, groups or a whole class

  • Clear descriptions for each activity, including pictures in the book, or video demonstrations in the online version

  • Specific pencil grasp targets for different age groups

  • Warm-up song with animation – Crocodile Snap (listen below)

  • Over 400 downloadable worksheets – sample below

  • Downloadable evaluation and record keeping forms

How can I purchase the programme?

There are three options for accessing the pencil grasp programme.  You can buy the book.  Or, you can purchase the online version.  If you want to you can also purchase both.  The book provides all of the information required to run the programme and access to some online resources required to run the programme.  The online version contains video content where Kim shows you how to do the activities in addition to handouts and the programme resources.

Buy the book

Supporting Pencil Grasp Development is published by Griffin OT.  The book includes:

  • Written information on grasp development, with pictures

  • Clear instructions on how to run the programme

  • Descriptions for each activity, including pictures

  • Access to downloadable forms and worksheets.

The book will be published in July 2019 and retails for £12.99.  We are offering it in June for the pre-launch price of £10.  Your book will be posted at the beginning of July.

Please choose the relevant country for postage
Cover for Supporting Pencil Grasp Development

Buy the programme online

The online version includes:

  • Education videos on posture, grasp development and pencil skills

  • Instructions on how to run the programme

  • Video demonstrations on how to do each activity

  • Access to forms and an additional 400 worksheets.

The online programme is £20 (plus relevant taxes e.g. VAT).  It is launching in July 2019.  The special pre-launch price for June is £15 for six months access (July -Dec 19).

supporting pencil grasp cover

Or you can do both!

You can purchase both the book and the online version.  Whilst each option is a stand alone product they do complement each other.  If you buy both you get the best of both worlds.  The online programme includes additional education video. There are also video examples of how to do each activity.  This will be helpful for  visual learners.  It will also give more in-depth information to those who are new to helping children to develop their pencil grasp.  You can purchase both in June 2019 for the pre-launch price of £25.  The book and online programme will both be released in July 2019.

Please choose the relevant country for postage

How do I know if my child is ready for the Supporting Pencil Grasp Development programme?

Firstly, the child must be at least three and a half years of age. Younger children need more time to develop the fine motor skills that make them ready to hold a pencil. The activities in the programme will be too difficult for them.  If you are looking for activities to help prepare a child to be ready for this programme you could consider level one and two of the GriffinOT fine motor skills programme.

Secondly, it is important that your child is showing an interest in mark making and colouring.  This could include scribbling with a marker, attempting to colour a picture or asking you to draw for them. The activities in the programme focus developing pencil grasp and pencil control.  If a child is not already showing an interest it will be difficult to get them to participate.  Again, it is suggested that the first two levels of our fine motor skills programme is considered.

Running the Programme

What are the sections of the Supporting Pencil Grasp Development programme?

Supporting Pencil Grasp Development consists of three parts.  There are 2 warm-up activities.  One of these is the song ‘Crocodile Snap’ (see below).  There are 14 fine motor activities designed to help children develop the hand and finger control required to develop a mature pencil grasp.  In addition, there are 14 activities to help to develop pencil control.  This includes over 400 worksheets which are divided into levels to ensure there are options at the right challenge level for every child.  If you purchase the online programme there are an additional 400 worksheets and video demonstrations for each activity.

fine motor activity
maze to help pencil control

What are the goals of the Supporting Pencil Grasp Development Programme?

  1. The child will use a functional pencil grasp, see page 14 for details, when using a pencil to colour, draw and write.
  2. Children will hold the paper with their non-dominant hand when they are colouring, drawing or writing.
  3. The child will be able to complete the following pre-writing shapes or letters:
    • 4 year olds – | – o +
    • 5 year olds – above shapes plus a square and oblique lines (\ /)
    • 6 year olds – above shapes plus an oblique cross (x), triangle and 60% of the letters of the alphabet
    • 7+ year olds – above plus all letters of the alphabet.
  4. The child will be able to complete worksheets containing multiple curves with 80% accuracy:
    • 4 year olds – 2cm thick mazes
    • 5 year olds – 1cm thick mazes
    • 6 year olds – 0.5cm thick lines
    • 7+ year olds – 0.2cm dotted lines.

Who can run the programme?

The programme is designed to be used by teaching staff, including teachers and teaching support staff. It can also be used by parents at home. Adults running the programme are responsible for providing adequate supervision during the activities and adhering to the activity instructions and tips at all times.

Supporting Pencil Grasp Development activities can be used with an individual, a small group or with a whole class.

How frequently do the pencil grasp development activities need to be completed?

Each activity or worksheet takes approximately five minutes to complete. It is recommended that between two to five activities are completed each session. Ideally sessions should be completed a minimum of three times a week. Activities and worksheets could also be included daily before writing sessions at school or home.

How long should we spend on each activity?

Each activity should take approximately five minutes. It is recommended that the activities are completed at least three times before the child moves onto the next activity, however some children may need more practice to be successful. There is a suggested final target given for each activity. If the child has not met this target after three times, they should continue practising the activity until they can reach the target.

How many activities should we do each time?

This will depend on the amount of time you have available and the number of children you are working with. The programme allows you to be flexible. You may wish to use the activities and worksheets as a formal lesson or group. You may also wish to use them as part of your own lesson plan. It is highly recommended that you spend time on both the worksheets and the activities each week, rather than just focusing on one.

Example 1 – Using the programme with an individual

Jon’s mum is running the programme with him at home. She has set aside 20 minutes three times a week. During each session Jon’s mum plans to do both warm-ups, one activity and 3 pencil worksheets. This means Jon’s first two weeks will look like this:

Week 1 – Monday, Wednesday, Saturday

  • Warm-up 1
  • Warm-up 2
  • Activity 1
  • Worksheets Level 1 (3-4 sheets)

Week 2 – Monday, Wednesday, Saturday

  • Warm-up 1
  • Warm-up 2
  • Activity 2
  • Worksheets Level 1 (3-4 sheets)

Example 2 – Using the programme with a class

Dave has decided to use the programme with his whole class, they are a bit older, so he plans to start at level 4 with the worksheets. He plans to integrate the activities and worksheets into his handwriting lesson time. He will alternate the warm-ups each week. His plan looks like this:

Week 1 – Daily

  • Warm-up 1
  • Activity 1
  • Worksheets level 4 (2 sheets each)
  • Continue with handwriting lesson as planned

Week 2 – Daily

  • Warm-up 2
  • Activity 2
  • Worksheets level 4 (2 sheets each)
  • Continue with handwriting lesson as planned

What is Crocodile Snap?

‘Crocodile Snap’ is a warm-up song created for the programme.  It aims to help children to find their ‘crocodile fingers’ or the fingers they need to hold onto their pencil when writing. The children follow actions which include whole hand movements and individual finger movements.  These have been combined to help children develop the finger isolation required for a functional pencil grasp.  Occupational therapist Kim Griffin wrote the lyrics specifically to help children find the fingers they need to use when holding a pencil.  Pat Savina has written the music and performed the song.

When using this song teachers and parents should encourage children to follow along with the actions. It is important that once all of their fingers have snapped, that they tuck away their little and ring finger. After this line in the song the child should be snapping with their thumb, index and middle fingers only. This helps them to isolate the fingers needed to hold onto their pencil. Then when the child is holding a pencil their teacher or caregiver can encourage them to use their ‘crocodile fingers.’  This reminds them to tuck away their little and ring finger and to use the other fingers to snap their pencil.

Crocodile Snap

Lyrics Kim Griffin, Music and Performance by Pat Savina © 2019

Fingers can wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle,
Fingers can snap, snap, snap, snap.
Fingers can wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle,
Hands can clap, clap, clap, clap.
Let’s go and find your writing hand
Thumb can wiggle,
Thumb can snap;
Peter can wiggle,
Peter can snap;
Toby can wiggle,
Toby can snap;
Ruby can wiggle,
Ruby can snap;
Even baby can wiggle,
And baby can snap;
Everybody wiggle,
Everybody snap.
Now let’s try the other hand out (Repeat verse)

Now what does this all mean?
Fingers can wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle,
Fingers can snap, snap, snap, snap.
Fingers can freeze;
Hold it still!
Bye bye baby,
Bye bye ring,
It’s time to let our crocodiles sing;
Ready crocodiles!
We hold your pencil,
We’re ready to write,
We’ll help you colour,
With all our might,
We’ll work super hard,
We will not nap,
But just remember,
Crocodiles can snap!

Snap your ear,
Snap your nose,
Snap your shoulder.
Snap them fast,
Snap them slow,
Snap them over.

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