How might we help strengthen preschoolers hand strength

Industrial Designer, art director, product designer

User research, model making, branding, animation

Length of project
2 months


With children’s increase usage of digital platforms from mobile devices to tablets, it is weakening the muscles on their fingers to grip a pencil properly.

Opportunity Statement

To improve the experience of writing with a pencil for preschoolers and create a tool that can help strengthen their muscles and fine motor skills.

“Children are not coming into school with the hand strength and dexterity they had 10 years ago,”

said Sally Payne, the head pediatric occupational therapist at the Heart of England foundation NHS Trust.

Link to source 🔗

Link to source 🔗

Assumption pencil grasp is a natural Skill

One mistake that parents and teachers may make when observing a child who is writing is making the assumption that grasping a pencil is a “natural” skill that a child will develop when they are ready.  Pencil grasp is a skill, an essential skill, that adults should monitor and help their child to develop.When it comes to writing, children may struggle with: fatigue, discomfort, fine motor development.

Fine motor skill development

Learning to write and work correctly is a critical building block in the development of many fine motor skills. Children who develop an incorrect grasp may face continual fine motor skill problems with their writing, and use of small tools.



01 Product

The story of Wu embarks from the starting point of the Child’s mind. When the creative motors start churning, that is when the sharpeners come alive. Wu will accompany your Child through the beginning steps of holding a pencil. Its bubbly round tone inspires the aesthetics of the brand. Preschoolers are given a creative companion to strengthen their hand dexterity and fine motor skills.

02 Service

As Wu took more form, users can customize their own Wu with different facial features and clothing. That expanded to Wu unleashing an animation to introduce their new feature. As Wu audience grew, a pop store was built to reinforce more physical interaction between Wu and the Users. The users can come in stores and develop their own Wu right there.

03 Campaign

3 brands were picked randomly from a hat. Then the assignment was to develop a campaign that would collaborate with the brands selected. A business model canvas was produced to further understand the brand language and tone as well as opportunities were Wu can be embedded within their ecosystem.

04 Initiative

The journey from a product to service, to campaign to was definitely unconventional. At times it didn't make sense or hard, or didn't connect. The collaboration is with Wu, UNICEF and Crayola called Wume. How the initiative works is when someone buys the Wu sharpener, a supply box is shipped to a student in one of the participating schools under the UNICEF foundation.

"Always design a thing by considering it in its next larger context - a chair in a room, a room in a house, a house in a environment, an environment in a city plan"

–Eero Saarinen.

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