Teaching kinders a proper pencil grasp in five simple steps

At the beginning of every kindergarten year, I have at least one child who fists their pencil.  Here is my favourite way, in 5 simple steps, to teach most children how to hold their pencil with a proper tripod grasp.

1.  Make an elastic pencil holder (as you can see, I made this one out of a black and a blue hair elastic, a big star bead and a small zip tie).

2.  Have the child slide their dominant hand through the black elastic.

3.  Have the child hold the bead with their middle, ring and pinky fingers.  This gives these fingers something to do and gets them out of the way.

4.  The thumb and pointer finger become “pinchers” to hold the pencil.  I find using a Start Right pencil grip, makes “pinching” easier at first and stops the thumb and pointer from wrapping too far around the pencil.

5.  For most pencil fisters (or students who use too many fingers to stabilize their pencil), the pencil will often lean forward when they try using only their thumb and pointer to hold it.  To fix this, simply thread the un-sharpened end of the pencil through the small loop you created in the black elastic.  The pencil will be tilted back and held in the web space between the thumb and pointer.

Do you have a different tried, tested and true way of teaching your students proper pencil grasp?  If so, I’d love to hear about it.

Shoes on the Wrong Feet? Here’s a simple fix….

Do you know someone who always puts their shoes on the wrong feet?

If this looks familiar, here is a simple trick to help your little one get their shoes on the proper feet.  With a permanent marker, draw a dot on the inside edge the sole of each shoe.  Teach your child to line the dots up before putting their shoes one.  If their shoes are on the correct feet, the dots should be able to touch.  If they can’t touch, a simple reminder like “Did you check your dots?” is usually enough to help the child figure out how to make them right.

Lining up these little dots before putting on shoes helps children get them on the proper feet.

Using Scissors on Day 1 – here’s a trick to keep all those little pieces of paper off the floor

If you have ever watched little ones learn how to use scissors, you know how many little bits of paper you can end up with all over the table and floor when some of them try to cut out even the simplest of shapes.  For those of you who can’t relate, imagine taking a piece of paper and trimming the edges, a little piece at a time until you are left with the shape you want.  Now imagine trying to get all those bits from wherever they landed into the classroom recycle bin.  Not an easy feat to say the least!

One simple trick I learned from a colleague a few years back is to put mini-recycle bins on each table.  I teach my students from day 1 to put all their little scraps into these bins and they are emptied when we are all done cutting.  This simple little trick really helps make clean-up time easier.

My students use mini green recycling bins for all their paper scraps when doing cutting activities.

Our table-top recycling bins