OT Time!

Fine Motor: Hand/Finger Strengthening and Grasp


Promoting a Mature Grasp

Proper hand/finger positioning includes wrist extended with fingers flexed and 1st three fingers on the pencil in a tripod position. Active finger movement (as opposed to whole hand movement) makes writing and coloring more effective.

  • Write/color on a vertical surface – white board/chalk board on wall, easel, slant board (or 3 inch binder used as slant board), laying on stomach while writing/coloring
    • Vertical surfaces automatically put the wrist in the correct extended position
  • Use short writing implements (less than 2 inches in length) – golfer pencils, broken crayons, short pieces of chalk
    • Providing small writing implements will make it difficult to use a fisted grasp, therefore promoting the use of the 1st three fingers
  • Promote wrist extension:
    • Staple items on a bulletin board, push tacks/push pins in a cork board placed on the wall, stack items above head height
  • Promote refined finger movements:
    • Insert coins/buttons into slotted contained, use a pegboard attached to a wall surface, use small manipulatives (pop beads, nuts/bolts, interlocking resistive toys), use items that promote pincer grasp (stringing beads, lacing boards, clothespins)


Hand/Finger Strengthening Activities

Items to use to increase hand/finger strength:

  • Tweezers/tongs
  • Balloon pump
  • Clothespins and bag clips
  • Stress balls and stretch toys
  • Elastic bands
  • Playdough with cookie cutters/rolling pin
  • Resistive putty
  • Bubble wrap
  • Paper clips
  • Pipe cleaners and beads
  • Hole puncher
  • Spray bottles
  • Legos
  • Eye droppers


Activities to increase hand/finger strength:

  • Crawling
  • Wheelbarrow walks
  • Turning self on Sit’n’Spin
  • Digging in the sand
  • Climbing
  • Hanging on jungle gym
  • Push another person on swing
  • Tug of war
  • Pull a heavy wagon


Specific questions or comments?

Contact your school’s occupational therapist!


Information Compiled by Melissa Lavorgna, MOT, OTR/L


This information is also available as a printable handout.