At Crayon Rocks, our big goal is to give every child the opportunity to write their own story. That's why we've developed a crayon that's designed to teach the correct pencil grip as your child colours.

Being former teachers, we are passionate about learning through play and we wanted to share with you a selection of easy to create, play-based activities that will prepare your child for early writing skills, by improving fine motor development to help develop the correct pencil grip.

We're kicking off the week with a fun way to explore fine motor development using natural ingredients and household objects in our sensory search activity, with red spaghetti.

We have chosen to work with a selection of scoops for this activity, as this helps to develop important skills such as fine motor control, dexterity, muscle strength and bilateral hand coordination. All of these skills will assist with school-based activities like writing, colouring and cutting with scissors.


Our Sensory Search with Red Spaghetti is a cost-effective, easy and fun way to engage your little one in an activity that promotes fine motor development and sensory development through play. 

We are working with the colour red today, as we're promoting colour recognition for our little learners with the added bonus of cognitive recognition of different shapes and textures within the colour red, using a selection of red objects found within the home. 

We've chosen natural ingredients so this activity is hand-to-mouth safe. For safety reasons, please be sure to make sure you choose size appropriate objects within this activity to suit your child's age. All of the objects chosen here are appropriate for a 3-6 years old.


You Will Need

  • Cooked Spaghetti (we added a tablespoon of vinegar once strained to stop the spaghetti sticking together.)
  • Red Food Colouring
  • Scoops of Different Sizes and Shapes
  • Selection of Red Objects from around the House.
  • Bowl or Plate

Step One: Boil your spaghetti, remove from stove once fully cooked and strain. We've added a spoonful of vinegar to our spaghetti once strained, this will help to prevent it sticking together. Mix spaghetti with a spoonful of red food colouring and mix until you have the desired colour. 

Step Two: Add your red spaghetti to a bowl/plate and begin to hide the red objects within the spaghetti. 

Step Three: Place a selection of different sized scoops an spoons from around the home. You can choose scoops/spoons of different widths, depths and even look for ones with different length handles. 

TIP! This activity is best done outdoors as you don't want red food colouring in the home!!


Now that your Sensory Search Plate is all set up, it's time to play. 

Toddlers: We're going to keep this activity pretty simple by keeping the focus on scooping up objects and moving them into a bowl. For toddlers developing fine motor skills, the act of holding a scoop and manoeuvring it at different angles to pick up an object requires them to use complex skills such as hand-eye coordination, radial and ulnar deviation, wrist extensions and dexterity for grasp development.

For toddlers, it's important to develop the accuracy of small wrist movements. Activities that prompt your child to move their wrist from side to side is an easy way to do this. When your child moves their wrist towards the thumb side this is called radial deviation and when your child moves their wrist towards the little finger side, this is called ulnar deviation. Using a scoop also requires your child to perform wrist extensions, which is where the wrist is gently bent back towards the back of their hand. 

Most toddlers will not have developed hand preference (left or right handed) at this early age so encouraging your little one to alternate between left and right hands is a great way to engage the senses.

All of the above can sound a little technical but to keep things simple, developing and strengthening the muscles in your toddlers fingers, wrists and hands will all play a vital role in preparing them for early writing and pencil grip.

3 to 6 Years: The act of scooping objects and moving them to a separate bowl is important for our preschool aged kids. At this age, you may see your child exhibiting a strong preference towards the use of one hand over the other, however hand dominance (left or right handed) is skill that can begin to develop from ages 2-3.5 years old and still be developing up to the ages of 8-9 years old. 

For preschoolers who are exhibiting good control over the scoop, you can add a few challenges such as adding a variety of different scoops and utensils with varying widths, shapes and lengths in the handles.

To further improve dexterity and muscle tone, you can add objects of different weights.

Asking your child to scoop from left to right is a great way to encourage the left-to-right motion which will later be used in reading and writing.

6 to 9 Years: By this age your child should have developed dominance of hand (left or right handed) but as mentioned above, hand dominance may still be developing up to the age of 8-9 years old. Remember that each child is unique and will develop at their own pace. 

For school aged children, bilateral hand coordination is a key focus as they will use their dominant hand to hold a pen or pencil and their non-dominant hand in activities such as holding the paper whilst writing, drawing and cutting.

You can include some brain based activities such as adding and subtracting objects to assist with basic mathematics. 

Have you tried this activity or have any questions? We'd love to hear from you.





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