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Helping Children to Remember the Tripod Grip

Children can find it difficult to develop and remember how to for a tripod grip due to the fine motor control and pressure skills needed.

We have adapted the traditional nursery rhyme “Tommy Thumb” to help young children learn how to form a tripod grip.

The grip version of the rhyme can be taught alongside the original as just another verse; the placing of the pencil can be replaced by using a finger from the other hand, this way a child can begin to develop the thumb and finger movements they will need later on to hold a pencil correctly.

Young children love a simple catchy rhyme and will happily sing it out loud to help them remember how to do something. However as they get a little older such rhymes are not really appropriate as aids or memory joggers. So we have another tip to help older children learn and develop their tripod pencil grip. We call it the “Drawbridge Flip”.

  1. Place the pencil on the table in-front of the writing hand, so it forms a straight line up the table with the writing tip of the pencil pointing towards you.
  2. Then using your thumb and index finger pinch the pencil either side of the shaft  about 2 cm up from the tip for a right handed writer and about 3 cm up for a left handed writer. Dots or sticker may be placed on the pencil to help thumb and finger placement.
  3. Pick the pencil up off the table and place the finger nail of the middle finger on to the pencil just above the tip.
  4. Keep the ring and little finger gently curled in.
  5. Push down with the middle finger so that the pencil moves up and over like a drawbridge , keep pushing until the pencil is supported in the cup (web of skin that joins the thumb, hand and index finger) and the pencil is resting on the inner edge of middle finger.
  6. When writing, the end of the pencil will be angled towards the shoulder for right handed writers and the elbow for left handed writers

Pencil Grip Rhyme

Drawbridge Flip

This is not a rhyme but a set of simple instructions:

Tripod Pencil Grip Rhyme Tripod Grip video tip for older children

The original “Tommy Thumb“ rhyme is a great hand and finger strength and dexterity action rhyme making it an ideal warm up activity for young children, or just fun to play with pre-school children. An advantage of using a known rhyme is that children learn the thumb and finger characters in a fun and non-threatening way.

Tommy Thumb Rhyme

Tommy Thumb Rhyme