Children’s drawing skills progress as their fine motor skills mature. The more control over the pencil or crayon they have in their hands, the more complex their drawing skills become.

  • At 12 months – 2 years the crayon is held initially in the palm with the thumbs pointing upwards (in a dagger grasp); the child scribbles vigorously in imitation; often draws a stroke then covers it with many scribbles; and is able to imitate drawing a vertical line.
  • At 2 – 3 years the crayon is often held across all fingers in their palm with thumbs pointing down (pronate grasp); the child imitates drawing a circle; and is able to copy horizontal and vertical lines.
  • At 3-4 years the crayon may be held with all four fingers on the pencil shaft opposite the thumb (quadropod grasp) or just their index thumb and middle fingers in a static tripod grasp (where the movement comes from the wrist) or a dynamic tripod grasp (where the fingers move independently for optimal accuracy in writing and drawing).

So, at the 3-4 year mark, whether your child has a quadropod grasp, a static tripod grasp or a dynamic tripod grasp, he/she has gained enough control over the pencil or crayon to be able to copy circles, imitate a zig zag line and join two dots as well as draw a man with a head and one other body part. Humans are so wonderfully made, wouldn’t you agree?

I came across this game for practising drawing circles from a really great blog, but for the life of me I can’t backtrack and find the blog and post. (If you know where it’s from, please comment here so I can acknowledge them because this game is such a great idea).

Draw a circle on a piece of paper. Then draw another circle within that circle.

And another circle within that circle. Continue till you can’t draw any more circles and can only fit in a dot.

I provided some scaffolding by taking turns drawing circles with M.

Big pieces of paper and crayons make it easier.

When drawing, watch out for hunching over the paper; gripping the crayon too tightly; reverting to pronate or dagger grasp; not crossing the midline of the body but swapping hands throughout the activity.

M extended the learning experience by folding up the circle into quarters and cutting along the curved lines we had drawn. Cutting is another skill that develops as a child’s fine motor skills matures (check out our cut out snowflakes).


 M: 3 years, 9 months

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About the author

Pauline Pauline & Lessons Learnt Journal is all about life with kids. Pauline is an Aussie mum and teacher who shares her love for play, math games, writing and reading activities. She believes that #playmatters, values curiosity & wonder, wisdom, obedience and respect. She also needs naps. When not blogging, she may be found virtually hoarding on Pinterest, trying to decide which Instagram filter to apply, or compulsively refreshing her Facebook feed.

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