Activities to Improve Handwriting

Two questions I get asked a lot as a school based occupational therapist are: What are some activities to improve handwriting and how can I make handwriting practice fun? This blog post will provide solutions for both these questions!  We will look at increasing legibility on 3 lined paper AND a fun way to work on handwriting! In fact, the fun activity I’ll show you is a great way to motivate kids to practice handwriting skills!


First, let’s tackle how to improve handwriting skills on 3 lined paper.

Why 3 lined paper? Worksheets, journals, and classroom activities tend to use 3 lined paper. Another reason is that when 3 lined paper is no longer used (like in wide ruled notebooks, college ruled notebooks, or agenda books), kids still have to imagine the middle dotted line there. That will keep their short letters short and tall letters tall. The motor memory and the visual memory they gain by practicing on 3 lined paper will help with that!

Let’s get started:

Here are two of the biggest struggles I see with kiddos when learning how to write on 3 lined paper:

1.  Line orientation or line awareness = proper use of the lines on the paper. Instead, letters tend to float on the lines and there’s no differentiation between tall letters and short letters. 

2. Spacing between words = kids tend to run their words together. A sentence can look like one big gigantic word!

There can be lots of reasons for these struggles including poor motor coordination, visual perception difficulties, poor visual motor skills, attention, and effort.  However, sometimes a simple solution like having the child do a self-checklist providing feedback and positive reinforcement makes a huge difference!  Here’s a self-checklist that I have had great success with!   

Activities for Improving Handwriting

How to use this printable to improve handwriting:

Print this downloadable PDF on card stock, cut on the dotted lines, and laminate the 4 self-checklists!

This allows me to have one for OT, one for the desk in classroom, one for parents if interested, and it’s always nice to have an extra one. 

 Of course, we make a HUGE deal about being a 3 LINE SUPER STAR!  It’s like being a SUPER HERO! I always get REAL excited before we work on handwriting and ask, “How many stars do you think you’ll get to color in when you’re done?”  I prep them with….”remember to keep your tall letters tall, short letters short, touch the bottom line, and spaces between your words”.  

After completing a writing sample, the student uses a dry erase marker to color in the stars as he or she self-checks their work!  The smiles on their face when they get to color MORE stars than last time or getting to color them ALL in is so fun and we definitely do some happy dances!

ALL WRITING PACKETS HAVE HANDWRITING WORKSHEETS TO PRACTICE WRITING ON 3 LINED PAPER AT THE WORD LEVEL AND SENTENCE LEVEL.  Click HERE to see the different writing packets and don’t forget to keep checking back for more to be added!

Self-checklist to help improve handwriting

**This is a 3 Page Digital Download PDF.  No Physical Items will be shipped

**As with ALL our activities, adult supervision is recommended for safety and they should not take the place of medical or therapeutic intervention.

Now Let’s Look at a FUN activity to improve Handwriting!

Here’s a little game I like to play with my students who are working on line orientation – primarily focusing on keeping tall letters tall and short letters short.  
You’ll need:
1.  3 lined paper
2. Writing utensil

It’s really that simple! 

Here are the steps:

  1. Decide if you are using lines or circles and decide on a number.  (In this example we will use 4)
  2. You say a simple pattern with the words “tall” and “short” with a total of 4 words.  For example: “tall, short, short, tall”.  
  3. The child then writes according to the pattern you said.  The first picture is what it looks like if you picked lines and the second is what it would look like if you picked circles for that round.  
  4. Now it’s the child’s turn to give YOU a pattern of their own 4 words using “tall” and “short”.
  5. Before you go to the next round, grade each other’s work.  You can even keep score as to who has the most points!
  6. Finally, Make it more challenging by picking a higher number because the pattern gets more difficult!  Can you trick each other?  Who wins by touching the right lines the most? 

Think about ALL the skills this simple, but fun handwriting game involves:

  • motor control
  • eye-hand coordination
  • auditory memory
  • sequencing
  • grasp
  • coordination
  • pencil control
  • turn taking
  • and more!
practicing circles

I hope the FREE self-checklist helps improve handwriting skills for your child working on 3 lined paper and no doubt you’ll also have a fun way to motivate kids while working on line orientation.  

If you notice difficulty with motor control, pencil control, coordination, and strength, HERE are our fine motor activities! These 10 page downloadable packs have fun and creative activities!  Meaning…


Look at the pictures below to see a few examples:


Fine motor activity for hand strength
Thumbtack And Rubber Band Activity
Hole Punch Activity
Hole Punch Activity
Play Dough Mat

Need more tips and ideas for writing on the lines?  Here is a great article by The OT Toolbox with some other easy and creative ideas! 

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