ZOOM to improve handwriting

The Zoom Game developed by John Murray, OTR/L, is an effective 52 second warm-up activity to be used before starting homework, classwork, tests, or writing in general. The Zoom game can be used for ALL children, at home, at school, or virtually anywhere!

The Zoom Game not only engages children’s sensory systems (tactile, proprioceptive, etc.), but also engages muscles of the upper extremities, including fine motor muscles in the hand. See the handout below for a list of all the muscles it exercises.


Recommended for Kids who are:

  • Reluctant “writers”/kids who erase too much
  • Figuring out how to best use a pencil from preschool through elementary years
  • Struggling to keep their hands to themselves/inappropriate use of hands (fingers in their mouth, nose, pants, etc…)
  • Delaying or avoiding using their small motor skills i.e., for writing, art, puzzles, dressing, utensils, etc…


The “52 second” pre-writing hand warm-up exercise

(Directions for a teacher who is having the class mirror movements)

  1. Start by rubbing hands together. Make a fist with your left hand and “smash” the palm of your right hand firmly 5 times, rub palms together, repeat with your right fist hitting left palm firmly 5 times.
  2. Make your hand/fingers resemble a “bear claw”. Hold this claw position for approximately 8 seconds (you are firing up the intrinsic muscles in those hands). Encourage hands/fingers projecting forwards/elbows off desk surface.
  3. Have kids place their non-dominate hand palm up under their thigh. Demonstrate touching the tip of each finger to the tip of the thumb slowly making “good O’s”. Do 3 series of these finger touches saying, “index, middle, ring and little” or some other personal catchy words each time.
  4. Keeping the non-dominant hand under the thigh, ask student to pick up a pencil/pen (already on desk) in the middle of the shaft of the pencil/pen and “twirl” the pencil slowly 5x’s away from body. Stop! Now, twirl the pencil 5x’s toward the body. If you drop the pencil that is OK. If you are struggling to twirl pencil (5-year-old and under crowd), please use 2 hands to twirl the pencil.
  5. Lastly, walk/inch the fingers down the pencil shaft to where “the paint meets the wood”. Put non-dominant hand on paper to “hold” it. The hand is now ready to write with the muscles of the hand “cued up”!


*** Teachers have reported that this activity enables the class to start written tasks at the same time, thus saving precious classroom time. ***