Teacher shares easy hack to help little ones learn how to hold a pencil

With parenting, there’s almost always an “Aha!” moment every single day. For some of us, it’s a “Duh” moment, or a “Why didn’t I think of that?” moment. Amanda Collins over on her TikTok @preschoolvibes shared a “teacher hack” for grownups struggling with their children to get them to not hold their crayons like a tree branch. And it was definitely a “Why didn’t I think of that?” moment. 

In this 15 second video, minds are blown with her simple instructions for how to help your kids practice those fine motor skills and learn how to hold a crayon—which in turn can help build those muscles to hold a pencil and write their names.

Within seconds of the TikTok video starting, Collins answers a follower’s question: “Do you have any tips for teaching my 4 year old how to hold a pencil? We are struggling currently.” 


Replying to @Amanda Collins ✏ Teacher Hack Alert! ✏ Struggling with kids holding their crayons like they’re grabbing a tree branch? Break that crayon in half! 🖍 A smaller piece forces the tripod grasp, which is essential for good handwriting skills! Say goodbye to the fist grip. 🤛 Try it and watch the magic happen! #PreschoolVibes #TeacherLife #TeacherHacks #PencilGrip #PreschoolTeacher

♬ original sound – PreschoolVibes

Collins snaps a crayon in half…just snaps it in half! All that’s left is a nub with the point of the crayon.

Related: 10 Montessori-inspired ways to promote your child’s fine motor skills through art

Then Collins says, “That’s right! You just need a little piece, because guess what? When children are writing, they can’t hold it like a fist grip, they can’t hold it underhand, they’re going to have to hold it the correct way if they only have a little piece.”

Genius, right? The crayon is now too small for kids to hold it any other way but the correct way.

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The official term for what kids need to accomplish before they can start writing is called “motoric separation of the hand,” according to The OT Toolbox website. Other ways to build those muscles for that “motoric separation” is to practice fine motor play as they get older and start pincer grasp activities from a young age. Pincer grasp practice can be as simple as taking a bunch of little tissue paper squares and having your child fill up an empty plastic bottle with them, using wooden clothespins to pick up mini cotton balls, or even just peeling tape, per the website. 

Related: Don’t let your preschoolers forget how to play

These activities will build up the muscles needed for writing in their future academic careers.

When can you start? Parents can practice the tripod grasp with their children as early as 4 to 6 months old, and by age 4, your child may be ready to practice holding a pencil, crayon or marker, using the “dynamic tripod grasp,” AKA the way most adults hold a pencil. 

If they’re old enough to start writing and they’re still using their entire fist, it may be time to implement Collins’ genius crayon-breaking tip. 

Happy writing and crayon breaking!

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