Home | Writing | Grammar | Spelling | Reading | Science | Math | How to Homeschool | Blog | View Cart
Follow Us & Join the Fun:

Compare Pencil Grips

Let's compare pencil grips available for students and writers. Find the perfect grip with this review of 12 grips and the problems they correct.

Why is a correct pencil grip important?

The right tools make the right job easier.

Many decades ago I was teaching my oldest son, then a toddler, to write his numbers and letters. Like many mothers, I focused on correct identification and formation of letters and didn't notice how he held his pencils or crayons.

Once we started kindergarten I realized he was grasping his writing instruments with four digits rather than three.

Why does it matter? Incorrectly holding a pen or pencil leads to writers cramp, less legible penmanship, and for some students - like my son - some regression in writing and drawing ability as they re-learn the correct way to hold their pen, pencil, or crayon.

Perhaps it runs in the family. As a child, neither my teachers or parents noticed that I held my pencil incorrectly. It ended up leading to blisters on my middle finger since I spent a lot of time writing. I self corrected my pencil grip technique as an adult.

For some students, the use of pencil grips aids them in either correcting an incorrect pencil grip. Better yet, the correct pencil grip may aid them in developing the correct grip in the first place.

Correct Pencil Grip Technique

Before we review a number of different pencil grips, let's review the correct technique for holding a writing instrument.

The Tripod Pencil Grip Technique

In this case, we are referring to the tripod pencil grip technique as the correct method for holding your pencil, not for a particular pencil grip.

The thumb and second and third finger form a tripod. The pencil is actually grasped between the second and third fingers. The thumb rests against the side of the pencil, touching the other two fingers.

As the point of the pencil touches the paper, the side of the wrist and the side of the fifth finger are resting on the paper or desk.

The first finger (pointer finger) and thumb make a slightly irregular shaped circle. The other end of the pencil comes out of the circle and rests near the knuckle at the base of the pointer finger.

Got all that? I suggest you re-read those directions while holding a pen or pencil in your hand, to make it more comprehensible and to verify that you are using the correct pencil grip technique yourself.

It should also be noted that when a person writes, the muscles of the pointer finger move the pencil downward while the muscles of the third finger move it upward. The thumb acts as a fulcrum and keeps the pencil in place as it moves up and down with the strokes.

Compare Pencil Grips

This article will compare pencil grips available in terms of effectiveness in supporting the tripod grip, comfort, ability to correct problems, and cost.

Like all reviews, this comparison of pencil grips has some generalizations. Certain individuals will find other products fit their situation better.

Stetro Pencil Grips

The Stetro pencil grip can be considered the classic pen and pencil grip children have used for decades. It was developed by J.R. Moon, who also developed the edges on pencils which make them not perfectly cylinder shaped.

The famous stetro pencil grip is a small piece of firm plastic slightly larger than a marble. It's surface has indentations which form the tripod grip when the students' fingers are placed in the correct area.

An arrow on the grip points up for a right handed student and down for a left handed student.

There is a star shape on the indentation where the thumb rests. The pointer finger is opposite it, and the underside has a larger curve which the middle finger fits into.

As one of the original pen/pencil grips, the stetro grip is often considered the standard to compare pencil grips from other companies.

Advantages of the Stetro pencil grips
• Widely available
• Trains fingers in the tripod grip
• Variety of kid-appealing colors
• Inexpensive (less than \$1)
• Teaches the student how to hold a pencil, even when the grip is removed.

Disadvantages of the Stetro pencil grips
• Plastic is hard and rigid, less comfortable than many other grips
• Left-handed position is not exactly equivalent
• Only fits a standard size pencil or pen
• Not as usable for preschoolers as other larger pen/pencil grips

Summary of the Stetro pencil grips
As you compare pencil grips, keep in mind the need of the particular student. While more complex and expensive pencil/pen grips may correct specific problems, it is possible that the widely available Stetro may be all that is needed for your student, particularly if he or she is right handed. If you are not sure where to start looking, this may be a good option. If there are problems, check out some of the other pencil/pen grips listed here which solve specific problems.

Solo Pencil Grip

This is a newer pencil grip made by the same company that makes the Stetro. It has matching indentations for right and left handed writers. Right handed students place their thumb in the "R" space, and left handed students place their thumb in the "L" space.

Advantages of the Solo Pencil Grip
• Better positioning for left handed students than the Stetro pencil grips
• Larger, may be used by younger students
• Pencil grip recommended for people with arthritis or carpal tunnel syndrome

Disadvantages of the Solo Pencil Grips
• Not widely available
• Moderately expensive (\$1.00 to \$2.00 each)

THE Pencil Grip

Yes, that is the name of this particular grip. It is made of larger, softer, and more flexible material than the Stetro Pencil Grips.

THE Pencil Grip is ergonomically correct, developed by a physician, and recommended by many occupational therapists. A larger percentage of the grip is in contact with writers' skin than with other grips. It has soft contours.

• Comfortable and flexible
• Variety of colors including glittery and neon colors
• Jumbo and regular size - (adults use jumbo)
• Prevents thumb wrapping

• Moderately expensive (\$1.50 - \$2.00 each)

The Crossover Pencil Grips

This is very similar to The Pencil Grip (above) but has an additional band across the top. The child tucks his or her thumb and pointer finger under the band. This gives extra security in preventing their fingers from slipping out of position and reinforcing the tripod pencil grasp.

Advantages of the Crossover Pencil Grips
• Has the comfort and flexibility of The Pencil Grip
• Prevents thumb wrapping
• Prevents use of fourth finger on the top of the pencil
• Useful for children whose fingers "slip" out of position after a while
Disadvantages of the Crossover Pencil Grips
• Moderately expensive (\$1.50 - \$2.00 each)
• Not widely available

The Start Right Pencil Grip

The Start Right pencil grip is another brand used by occupation therapists. In addition to promoting the tripod grasp, it has a barrier which prevents the thumb from wrapping around. A shield keeps the fingers at the correct distance to the end of the pencil. Designed for ages 3 and up.

Advantages of the Right Start Pencil Grips
• Can be used by preschool, kindergarten and grade school
• Helps prevent thumb wrapping
• Correct placement at the end of the pencil
• Forms wide "O" between thumb and pointer finger for those who collapse that angle.

Disdvantages of the Right Start Pencil Grips
• Odd shape may make it conspicuous and undesirable for some older children
• Not widely available
• Moderately expensive (\$1.00 - \$2.00 each)

Triangle Pencil Grip

The triangle pencil grips are used in many schools and are one of the most used kindergarten pencil grips. They are made of a rubbery substance and have a triangle shape which promotes the tripod pencil grasp.

Triangle pencil grips are a simple shape and very easy to use: no special directions, no modifications for left handed students.

Advantages of the Triangle Pencil Grips
• Simple to use for right and left handed students
• Uniform shape is appreciated by some students - no need to focus on putting your fingers in a particular space
• Widely available
• Inexpensive (less than \$1.00 each)
• Available in regular and jumbo (jumbo for smaller children)
• Useful in preschool and kindergarten
• Often recommended for some children with dyslexia

Disadvantages of the Triangle Pencil Grips
• May not correct specific problems such as thumb wrapping, pencil squeezing, or putting the third finger on top of the pencil.

Air Grip Pencil Grip

The Air Grip pencil grips are similar in size, shape, and function to the triangle pencil grips. They have the added feature of being very soft, flexible, and comfortable. Some people who do not need pencil/pen grips for finger placement like to use the air grips because of the air like feeling.

Advantages of the Air Right Pencil Grips
• Very comfortable
• Simple, easy to use
• Most of the advantages listed for the triangle pencil grips
• Relatively inexpensive - though slightly more than the regular triangle grips
Disadvantages of the Air Right Pencil Grips
• Not widely available
• Only in one size
• Fits regular size pen/pencils only

Grotto Pencil Grips

The grotto pencil grips are soft grips with multiple angles and curves in an interesting shape. It fosters an "o" shape between the thumb and index finger as well as a relaxed grip on the pencil.

Advantages of the Grotto Pencil Grips
• Useful for students who squeeze the pencil
• Helpful for those who have narrow space between thumb and first finger
• Recommended for autistic individuals
• Decreases writers' cramp
• Ridges and angles for those who like the sensory feel of different surfaces
Disadvantages of the Grotto Pencil Grips
• Expensive (over \$2.00 each)
• Not widely available

EZ Grip Pencil Grip

The EZ Grip used to be known as Add A Grip. The same technology as this pencil grip is also applied to a line of pens made by the same company. In addition to using the grips on pens/pencils, they can also be used on small knives and small tools.

The purpose of the EZ grip is to prevent the squeezing of the writing instrument and hyperflexibility of the joints. It is easy on the muscles, prevents writers cramp, and useful for those with hand and writing problems.

Advantages of the EZ Grip Pencil Grip
• Recommended for arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, or hand injuries
• Prevents writers cramp
• Used with other small knives, and hobby tools
• Particularly for adults and older students
Disadvantages of EZ Grip Pencil Grips
• Moderately expensive (\$1.00 - \$1.50 each)
• Not widely available
• Not designed for preschool or early writing

The Claw

What an awesome name for a pencil grip, but once you have seen it you will agree that it is well named. The claw pencil grips are made of three small, flexible cups that the fingers fit into. In the middle is a space to place the pencil, pen, marker or crayon. The cups ensure that the fingers stay in the tripod grasp the entire time the instrument is held. While any child who struggles to maintain the tripod grasp would benefit from this device, it is particularly valuable for those with weak muscles or hand disabilities.

It comes in three sizes:
• Small - ages 3 to 5
• Medium - ages 5 - 12
• Large - 12 and above

Advantages of the Claw Pencil Grips
• Easy to use - no instructions needed for the child to know where to put their fingers
• Maintains the tripod grasp perfectly
• Ideal for hand and muscle disabilities

Disadvantages of the Claw Pencil Grips
• Fingers may become sweaty
• Bulky size may be more conspicuous than some children are comfortable with
• No color choice
• Moderately expensive (\$1.50 to \$2.50)

HandiWriter

The HandWriter is a totally different tool and completely different design from pencil grips. This is a knit band that the student wears around his or her wrist. The pencil or writing instrument is inserted in a small loop and held in the correct position. A small charm is held against the palm by the fourth and fifth finger. The effect is to pull the fingers into the tripod grasp.

Besides the unique design, another feature of this tool that differs from pencil grips is the focus on the angle of the pencil. If a student's grasp causes the writing instrument to project at a different angle, this may be the best tool for correcting their problem.

Particularly helpful for left handed students, the same tool came be used by either left or right handed writers. If corrects the problem of left-handed writers who smudge their letters while writing.

• Left handed students - particularly those who smear their writing
• Correct the angle a pencil is held at
• Comfortable to use
• No pencil grip is needed. But if students like the feel of a grip, the HandiWriter can be used with any pencil grip desired.

• Not widely available
• Expensive (over \$3.00 each)
• May be less convenient to wash cloth bands than the plastic grips

Textured Pencil Grips

In this class there are a wide range of pencil grips made by numerous companies. These are not therapeutic per se, and do not help to correct writing problems such as poor grasp. They make holding the pencil more comfortable. In addition, the assortment of colors and shapes are fun to many students. Pencil grip collection anyone?

Some students who benefit from sensory stimulation have enjoyed using pencils grips, and when no longer needed may still prefer the softer more comfortable feel of soft pencil grips than wooden pencils. They may "graduate" to these textured pencil grips which give them a wide variety of choices, usually for little cost.

• Soft, comfortable
• Wide selection of colors and shapes and materials
• Available everywhere
• Inexpensive (less than \$1.00 - some even 10 for \$1.00)

• Do not correct grip problems

Foam Pencil Grips
• Soft and spongy
• Difficult to wash
Gel Pencil Grips
• Squishy soft
• Often liked by those who have used The Pencil Grip or other flexible grips
Other options
Fuzzy, furry, spikey, slimey, gooey, glittery, flashing
You name it, someone has probably made it.

Get a Grip Compare 5 Basic Pencil Grips

You may have noticed that it gets fairly pricey to buy an assortment of pencil grips. Therefore, we have a Get A Grip 5 Pack that allows you to purchase five different pencil grips.

The five are (from left to right in the picture):
• The Claw Pencil Grip (medium - age 5 to 12)
• The Stetro Pencil Grip
• The Crossover Pencil Grip
• THE Pencil Grip
• The Triangle Grip
7.95
Get A Grip 5 Pack

What Next?

If you purchase an assortment of pen/pencil grips and find one that solves your student problem, you will know which to purchase. You might want to have 3 to 5 of those pencil grips on hand.

On the other hand, if a problem persists, I recommend returning to this pencil grip review, and acquiring grips that address the particular problem.

Share your feedback with the rest of the home school community.

You Are Here:       >  Pencil Grips Review