Fine Handwriting needs Fine Muscles

We think that handwriting skills are in the finger tips …

Well, actually it starts with the gross motor muscles!

Gross Motor Skills are our ability to use our large muscles to move.  They include our ability to roll, crawl, walk, run & jump.  Gross Motor Skills are important for the development of Fine Motor Skills & the ability to learn complex skills like fastening buttons & zippers, eating with a fork & knife, and printing, handwriting, typing & cutting. (Read Skill Builders for more info.)

Here are some games and activities that will build up upper body gross motor muscles:


  1. Wheelbarrow races on hands while someone holds feet
  2. Hanging on rings on the jungle gym
  3. Throwing and catching big beach balls
  4. Playing swing ball
  5. Swimming
  6. Jumping with a skipping rope
  7. Bowling

Now for some fine motor activities and games:

Playing with play dough

  1. Squeezing clay, putty or plasticine
  2. Placing clothes pegs along a ruler or around a container
  3. Tearing paper – first colour a square paper with big crayons, then tear into tiny squares, then glue these pieces on to a picture
  4. crunching paper into balls
  5. Opening fingers with elastic bands on them
  6. Finger actions with songs
  7. Kneading bread dough
  8. Rolling and making biscuit balls
  9. Picking vegetables and pulling stalks off strawberries/ tomatoes/ shucking corn
  10. Drawing in pudding mix on a plastic cloth/ salt on a tray/ shaving cream on window or mirror
  11. Cutting with scissors
  12. Tying knots, bows, shoelaces or rope
  13. Doing buttons, zips, press studs, hooks and eyes, cuff links and fasteners
  14. Screwing and unscrewing bolts and nuts
  15. Lacing with card and shoelaces
  16. Beading with cotton reels and thick thread

I suggest that if your child struggles with your handwriting program, put the workbooks or worksheets aside and play these games!  Have fun and practice, practice and practice until the muscles gain strength and the child refines pre-handwriting skills .

Read more excellent ideas for pre-writing activities for pre-schoolers here

Look at these fine motor skills activities ideas here

For more ideas on handwriting read what Ann Zeise says here

5 thoughts on “Fine Handwriting needs Fine Muscles

  1. Pingback: Reader’s Question ~ Hold back on Phonics? | Practical Pages

  2. Have you ever heard of Brain Gym? I’ve tried Googling it, but there is only a small amount of information that I could find. From what I can tell, it’s very similar to your post….using body exercises to help improve the brain function. I’ve heard that doing movements that cross the midline of the body are supposed to be good too.


    • There isn’t much to find on the internet. There is also quite a debate about its validity as a therapy. I combine some of the brain gym exercises with spatial awareness and aerobics-type movements. Crossing the midline is a vital therapy.


  3. Nadene,
    This post seems like it was written just for us. I only asked for ideas and suggestions for ‘programmes’, on a CM discussion forum, this last week because my child is struggling with handwriting. I’m going to use some of these ideas tomorrow. Thankyou, Renelle


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