Last year I was privileged to cross paths with a truly brilliant "reception" teacher. Reception is kind of like preschool in the British system. I casually mentioned that my son was struggling to grasp the pencil correctly. Her attention focused, and she started asking questions. I told her that he said it hurt. She told me that his hand muscles were too weak, then rattled off a list of fine motor skill activities that would help him strengthen his hands. We weren't able to afford the elite school where she teaches, but that bit of insight was priceless. Ever since, I've been on the look out for projects that interest my son, and cause him to use his pincer grasp. His writing grasp has shown huge improvement, and he'll usually hold the pencil correctly for a while before regressing to clasping it with his whole fist.
A few weeks ago, we read a book that featured Bert making paper clip chains. That caught my little nerd-in-training's interest. I grabbed a box of paper clips at the grocery store. This afternoon I pulled it out, and sure enough, it was a hit with both my four-year-old son and my two-year old daughter. During the course of about ninety minutes we progressed from randomly hooking paper clips together to making a intentional chains and patterns, to "fishing". All things lead to fishing these days. . .