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Writing Charms

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Many of the kids that I see for therapy have trouble with handwriting. Handwriting trouble stems from other problems such as fine motor problems, hand weakness, visual motor/visual perceptual problems, in-hand manipulation, and motor planning problems. One small thing that can help with handwriting is to get the hand in the right position to write properly.

I was seeing a kindergarten student the other day, and he was having trouble getting his hand into the tripod position for writing due to motor planning problems. This child also has a diagnosis of Autism. I gave him a small bouncy ball and told him to hold it in his hand with his pinky and his ring finger. By doing that, it was so much easier for him to hold the pencil with his other fingers. Holding the ball in his hand seemed to stabilize his whole hand so that it was much easier for him to move the pencil to make his letters. It was such a simple solution that had an immediate and obvious change in his writing function and legibility.

In order to keep the ball from getting lost, I made an attachment out of rubber bands so that the ball stays with the pencil. I will attach some shaped erasers next and have a special day class test them out for me.

writing charms 2 web copy

You can use any object to hold in your hand to improve writing position. The concept behind it is that with the ulnar (pinky finger) side of the hand closed, it stabilizes the hand in order to let the radial (index finger) side of the hand perform the required action (writing). We do this naturally, but many kids with fine motor and motor planning problems do not do it naturally at all. Holding an object in the hand while writing can facilitate the natural writing position and give stabilization.

writing charms 1web

Get out there and give your kids something to hold.

writing charms 3webWe will have these writing charms available for sale.  I have some made with the simple cap erasers, but will be making some with animal erasers as soon as the erasers get here.


  • Small ball, eraser, or other small object


  • Fine motor
  • Handwriting
  • Motor planning


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Tonya is a pediatric Occupational Therapist, and loves creating things to work on skills and solve problems.

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  1. My 11 year old son has been diagnoised with having “developmental coordination disorder” He has an OT at school, who he see’s once a week. Do you have any suggestions on how to strengthen his hands or ideas,tips?

    1. using clothespins and pinch clips to play games is great for finger and hand strengthening. Also any activity that incorporates in-hand manipulation is a good work-out for the hand muscles.

  2. Hey, just wanted to say that I had trouble holding my pens as a child, would grip them too tight, and it put my thumb in a very awkward position. Fast forward twenty years, and I was diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome – Hypermobility Type. It’s a rare collagen defection genetic disorder which affects the entire body, but the odd way I held my pen was an early indicator before the painful symptoms of tendinitis and osteoarthritis set in. I was actually sublexing and dislocating my thumb joints when holding the pen without realizing it. If you have a child that does this with their pens, can also touch their thumbs to the inside of their forearms, wiggle their kneecaps in a large circle when sitting on the floor with their legs extended, can touch the floor with a flat palm while bending over with their knees kept straight, and has double jointedness in a couple places, they need to be checked by a rheumatologist or geneticist for Ehlers-Danlos. If I had been diagnosed as a child and gotten the bracing I needed, I would have significantly lower levels of pain today – at age 29 I became fully disabled. http://www.ednf.org is trying to raise awareness among medical staff and others who work with children, but when I see various things like this online, I feel the need to add my two cent’s worth as well :)

      1. Hey, nope, I did visit there once though, it was beautiful!!! And yw for the info :)

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