Children typically learn to hold a crayon in the tripod grip (like an adult) when they are three to four years old. It’s important that they learn to bring the tips of the thumb, index and middle fingers together in this way. This is a functional skill that enables them to do many other things such as fastening buttons.
Three-year-olds can turn a large key in a door and they typically thread six large beads onto a lace, before losing interest.
If you prepare coils of playdough, your child can now practice using a pair of scissors to cut them into shorter pieces. They can also practice opening and closing the scissors by snipping into the edge of a sheet of paper. Encourage your child to hold their elbow close to their body and hold the scissors with their thumb facing up.
Tip: Pencils and Pegs
Introduce your child to the feeling of holding a pencil with the tips of three fingers. You can play games where each player gets to place a peg in a pegboard whenever they get something right. The first player that completes a row wins.
Doing this practices the skill of bringing the thumb, index and middle finger together. It also helps develop in-hand-manipulation skills when your child uses the fingers and palm of one hand to turn a peg to face the right way before placing it into the hole.
If you don’t have a pegboard set, use a toothpick to punch holes into a box and cut earbuds into short “pegs”.