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Fine Motor Skills and Pencil Grip

Gross motor skills are the big whole-body movements e.g. crawling, running, hopping, jumping, climbing stairs, turning… Fine motor activities work on developing the muscles in the hands, developing strength and dexterity in the fingers. Willow Class are working hard on developing our gross and fine motor skills. 

Fine motor skills activities are lots of fun, and include things such as: playdough, threading, art and craft activities, small construction…

Here are some things that we are doing in school which you may also enjoy at home.  At the bottom of the page you will also find some printable activities too.

Finger Warm up Ideas (We choose different ones each day)

Singing Tommy Thumb - This helps us warm up those fingers and isolate each one.  You can click on the PDF icon to view the lyrics or click here for a video. (First video on the page).

Dough Disco – We love Dough Disco in Willow Class.  Click here for the link to the video. (*there is a 5 second unrelated advert at the start).

Crocodile SnapClick here for the link.

Exercising Ruby Ring and Baby Small – Stretching them out and curling them in.  A dowel can be used for Ruby Ring and Baby Small to hold for a few seconds.

Making the Shape – We are using the crocodile snap fingers and making a big round shape with Ruby Ring and Baby Small curled in gently.  The crocodile snap shape is relaxed with fingers slightly bent.  This creates a big open oval shape in the centre which helps develop the ability to control the pencil movement with the fingers, not the whole hand/arm.

Singing Crocodile – With the correct open shape (see pictures above) Tommy Thumb, Peter Pointer and Toby Tall move gently in and out whilst remaining in contact with each other.

Dowel 1.jpg
Dowel 2.jpg
Hole Shape 1.jpg
Clear Shape L.jpg

Pencil Grip

Every child develops at their own pace in all areas, and this is no different with pencil grip.  The aim is that your child is having fun completing fine motor activities, including enjoying using pencils and pens to complete any type of activity e.g. drawing, colouring, mark making, letters/numbers… A mature tripod grip takes time to develop, there's no rush! 

Click here for further information about the stages of pencil grip development. 

Tips to Help

Hand Shape – A relaxed hand resting on the table. Ruby Ring and Baby Small are curled in gently and the crocodile snap shape relaxed with fingers slightly bent.  This creates a big open oval shape in the centre which helps develop the ability to control the movement with the fingers.

Relaxed Hand.jpg

Relaxed Pencil - The pencil is resting down on the hand, not up in the air.


Thumb Pad on the Pencil – Tommy Thumb pad is on one side of the pencil and Peter Pointer pad is on the opposite side.  We are trying not to wrap the thumb around the pencil.

Thumb and Finger 3.JPG

Good Sitting - Sitting down at a table with chair tucked in and with feet flat on the floor.

Next Step

As your child’s pencil grip develops with the tripod grip, we will focus on developing a mature/dynamic tripod grip.  Toby Tall will then act like a resting shelf with the pencil resting on the top inside part.  Click here for a diagram for left and right-handed mature/dynamic tripod grip.

We have been enjoying watching the new version of the Tommy Thumb song (Tommy Thumb Pencil Grip Rhyme) and starting to sing along.  Click here for the video.  (Second video on the page)


This is great song for showing what all the fingers need to be doing to help develop a mature/dynamic tripod grip.    Every child’s skills, in holding a pencil, develop at different rates and go through different stages before they are ready to start developing the mature/dynamic tripod grid.  Many children are at an earlier stage than this at the moment and that is absolutely fine!  The diagram and video shows what we are aiming for at the end. 

Thumb and Finger.jpg

Please note that some resources on the website ( do not support the ‘techniques’ we use in school e.g. the letter formation section.  We use a different formation pattern for some of the letters so please use the formation sheet that was in your pack or the doorway formation website (click here).  Thank you!

Firework Colouring Sheets

Firework Tracings

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