Handwriting remediation exercises to enhance visual motor skills.

All of these exercises can be used in the classroom, in therapy, at home, and even independently by children!

Writing Exercises with Music

    Pencil Exercises

  1. The Wheels on the Bus
  2. The Very Hungry Fingers
  3. Rev Up the Motorcycle
  4. Hot Potato Pencil Pass
  5. Pencil Plunge
  6. Pencil Push Ups
  7. The Octopus
  8. Pencil Pull Ups
  9. Itsy Bitsy Spider
  10. Hovering Helicopter
  11. Worksheet Exercises 11–14

  12. Fly Ball Into the Mitt
  13. Ball Throw to Mitt
  14. Frog Catches the Fly
  15. Pitch and Hit


Sample Exercise

Writing Exercise 10: Hovering Helicopter

Exercise 10: Hovering Helicopter

Purpose: Learning circular pencil control prior to actual writing may help kids regulate pencil pressure and improve speed and quality of letter formation. It may help children form the letters o, a, c, j, g, q, and so on. The Hovering Helicopter exercise targets thumb and finger use to move the pencil correctly and to discourage inefficient ‘arm writing.’ The helicopter hovers clockwise for letters j, s, 8, etc. and counter clockwise for the letter c, the starting letter for o, a, etc.

    Targeted Muscles:

  • Abductor Pollicis Brevis
  • Opponens Pollicis
  • Lumbricals
  • Palmer and Dorsal Interossei
  • Extensor Carpi Raialis Brevis and Longus
  • Flexor Pollicis Longus and Brevis
  • Extensor Pollicis Brevis

Start: The index, thumb and middle fingers hold the pencil. The
wrist should be slightly extended. Have the child keep an open web
space as he/she makes small circles with the pencil in the air, using the
thumb and fingers. Start with circles to the left or counter-clockwise
(see Position 1). The child’s wrist and arm should be as still as possible.

Helicopter Hands Writing Exercise Position 1

Important Tip: Cue the child to keep the pencil in the web space or “chicken skin” with the hovering helicopter!

Finish: In the same position as above, change directions and make circles to the right or clockwise (see Position 2).

Helicopter Hands Writing Exercise Position 2

Instructor’s directions to the child:

Beginning Exercise:
Make slow circles hovering like a helicopter. Pretend you are a helicopter searching for a capsized boat.

Advanced Exercise:

Start with big circles, then make smaller circles as you find the capsized boat, hovering in place and moving slower and lower to rescue the boat. To enhance proprioception, try the exercise with your eyes closed.

Hovering Helicopter Songs

Instructional Tip: Demonstrate exercises first, then complete them with the child as you sing the songs together

Writing Exercise Music

(to the tune of The Farmer and the Dell)

The copter hovers (circles) high, the copter hovers high, move your thumb and fingers and hover in the sky.
The copter hovers low, the copter hovers low, make your fingers do the work and go real slow.
The copter hovers high, the copter hovers low, make your fingers do the work and land on the desk (or ground) below.

(to the tune of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star)

Helicopter in the sky, see it circle way up high.
Helicopter circle low, make your fingers move real slow.
Circle left and circle right, thumb and fingers gripping light.
Thumb and fingers move and wiggle, your arm is still, don’t let it jiggle.
Repeat first two verses.

Music Notes

    Tips to increase success if a child struggles with the Hovering Helicopter exercise:

  1. Have the child complete the exercise without the pencil.
  2. If the child is not isolating his/her thumb and fingers to make circles, instruct him/her to make circles first with the arm and shoulder while holding the pencil. Next have the child make circles with just the wrist. Finally, try again to isolate the fingers moving the pencil.
  3. Have the child relax his/her hand and then passively move the child’s fingers in the desired fashion. Have the child close his/her eyes and feel the motion.

Pencil Gymnastics Includes

The Pencil Gymnastics Workbook

  • 10 Pencil Exercises, designed to help children and students get Fine Motor Fit
  • 4 Bonus Exercises and Worksheets

The Pencil Gymnastics CD

  • 10 Children’s Song Favorites, rewritten and recorded for Pencil Gymnastics. These songs help children engage in the learning and exercise process and enhance visual motor skills.
Pencil Gymnastics Program

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