Effective Strategies for using Push Pin Poke Art

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Using Push Pin Poke Art in your homeschool will quickly become a fun activity that everyone can participate in! Very little seems to be known about this intriguing art form. Sometimes called pinprick pictures, they historically used these in the 17th and 18th centuries as a way for girls to pass the time.

The designs were created on watercolor paper and embellished with watercolor paint for effect. The picture was painted first, then poked from behind with needles of different sizes to produce the desired effects. 

Alternatively, a picture may have been sketched on the *back* of a page and then poked for effect. 

Push Pin Poke Art is now used with preschool and elementary-aged children as a tool for developing fine motor skills. It is so much more than that. 

Suggested Tools for use with Poke Art

  • Jumbo Push Pins
  • Embroidery needles secured to pencils to make a “tool”
  • toothpicks
  • golf tees (although these can make large holes)
  • clay working tools
  • a long nail (also prone to larger holes)
  • straight pins secured to a pencil (make the smallest holes and can be STUNNING)

You can print and poke directly on cardstock, or you can double up and poke through two layers. However you decide to complete the project, it is best to have a soft surface behind your paper.

Suggested Soft Surfaces

  • Cork Board
  • Foam Mat
  • Cardboard (2 layers)
  • A folded towel
  • A large mouse pad

The Versatility of Poke Art

While the historic use of pinprick art was to poke it, remember they also painted it with watercolor paints. You can have your children poke the black-and-white picture, then color it. You can even use watercolor paper as your poking paper and then paint as they did in the original art form. 

The patterns can also be painted *pointillism* style with cotton swabs

My favorite activity is to have older children use embroidery floss and the basic backstitch to sew using the colored pattern. Each set of Happy Hive Homeschooling Poke Art Patterns includes a link to a video tutorial for basic stitching. You can find more online if your child wants to advance their skills! 

The Benefits of Poke Art – regardless of how you choose to use it

Your refrigerator, windows, and walls will run out of room once your kids start using poke art! Regardless of how you guide your children to use it (poke, paint or sew) it is so much more than just a decoration! I’ll be addressing  *poking* as the main skill, with the underlying understanding that it also applies to painting and sewing at some level. 


While fine motor skills are developing at a rapid pace during those young years, children of all ages can benefit from continued practice. Fine motor skills are necessary for a variety of tasks including, snaps, fasteners, opening the door, tying shoes, buttoning a shirt, cutting with scissors, and holding a pencil to name a few. 

Regardless of age, using push pin poke art can help young and middle-grade children with these skills, without making them feel behind or “in therapy”. 

You can read more about Fine Motor skills in our post : XXXXXX and see the Preschool Fine Motor pack in action!

Looking for more Fine Motor activities you can use with your homeschoolers? Check out THIS POST by Candace on the I Homeschool Network Blog: 10 easy and quick fine motor skill activities


Much can be said about concentration and focus. Poke art is not meant as the perfect cure for a child with a diagnosed struggle with attention, but it may help. It can also help with a child who just needs that little extra work in the area of concentration. Concentration is like a muscle and the more you work it out, the better it gets. 

Children need concentration and focus to follow multi-step instructions such as; 

Put the dishes in the sink, then take a shower. 

Not to mention the focus it takes to complete longer school-related tasks. 

A poke art page will take quite a bit of time. Because it is a high interest activity, most children will stick with it until the picture is complete. This serves as a gentle reminder that if they can accomplish poke art with concentration and attention to detail, they can apply the same focus to their other assignments – they are simply choosing not to.

It may take some detective work to find out why they are making those choices. (Disinterest is often top of the list!)

Each set of poke art designed by Happy Hive Homeschooling can be poked, painted or sewn – all three of these activities will strengthen a child’s fine motor skills as well as their creative minds. 

These activities also take concentration and focus on the part of your child. 


For years, video games have been *promoted* as being beneficial because they help with eye-hand coordination. I’m all about helping kids use their hands and eyes at the same time in constructive ways. Our brain takes the information our eyes perceive and tell our hands to execute a movement. We use eye-hand coordination for writing, typing, driving and many other skills necessary to life in general. 

Push Pin Poke art is a great alternative to the video game argument. The dots force your child to look, then poke one at a time. 



If you have an older student struggling with their pencil grip – poke art can help “retrain” them by using a push pin for the poke art, they must use their PINCER GRASP. This is when they pinch the tool between their thumb and the index finger. 

When we have the correct pencil grip, we use the TRIPOD GRASP. This is the use of the thumb, index finger, and third finger together to support the pencil. Using some of the other recommended tools (see below)  help in this area. 

If you notice your child gets tired working on some of the more complex pictures, they may be gripping the pin or poking tool too tightly. They also may have weak hand muscles. It is important to determine the root cause of the issue. In time the muscles will strengthen, that is the goal of the poke art! If their grip is indeed too tight, I like to say: “You can loosen your grip, the pin will not run away before you finish the picture.” 

 Most children will keep at it until they finish so they can see their finished work of art! In fact, in my experience, they beg for a second or third picture! 


Hand strength can be related to pencil grip, and it can be its own unique issue. As mentioned in the Pencil Grip section, if your child gets tired when poking and you believe it may be a strength issue there are some things you can do to help. 

Knowing how much pressure to apply when writing, or how tightly to hold the pencil and be difficult to “teach”.

It involves being aware of hand movement and using adequate force all at the same time.

Poke art encourages the awareness of pressure. If too much pressure is applied the push pin gets stuck, too little pressure is used, no hole gets poked!

Every child is unique

I absolutely love poke art. Every time I think of it, or create a new set for the Happy Hive Shop I am instantly transported back to fourth grade when my teacher gave us Christmas themed pictures to create. The adult teacher in me is convinced that poor man had papers to grade or report cards to complete because we poked for HOURS. It does not matter, as children, we loved every blessed minute. 

I can’t promise your kids will feel the same, or that their attention deficit disorder will be cured. I do not know if they will button their shirt independently in a week. That’s because every child is unique. I hope that by trying poke art, it helps. 

Using Poke Art at Multiple Ages

Likely you have multiple age levels you are working with and Poke Art is not just for pre-school-aged children. I challenge you to hand your middle schooler a page and a pin. Print off a coloring page of interest. They can space their poking appropriately. 

Whatever the Weather! 

Keep plenty of poke art patterns on hand. If an activity gets canceled for any reason, or because of the weather – pull out poke art. After your kids know the poke art basics, you’ll find they can accomplish the same thing with their favorite coloring pages. 

This is a wonderful activity to take to the park (make sure you secure your layers with plenty of clips or a staple) 

Friends coming over? Whip out the poke art – it’s a crowd pleaser!

Are you ready to try poke art for yourself? I put together a free sample pack of 5 patterns for your homeschool so you can begin implementing the benefits outlined here right away! Simply click the image below and you’ll have quiet kids for hours!

Thanks for stopping by Happy Hive Homeschooling for Strategies for using Push Pin Poke Art

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