Proficient fine motor skills are necessary for many daily skills such as using scissors to cut paper, holding a pencil to write and draw, opening and closing scissors, doing and undoing buttons and zips and engaging in building/construction play. Fine motor skills develop sequentially from birth into childhood. A pincer grasp is an important milestone in a child’s fine motor development. The pincer grasp is the action of touching the thumb and tip of index finger together in order to hold an object. When the little muscles of the hand in between the thumb and index finger are weak, a child could have a hard time engaging in a pincer grasp. This may impact on the child’s ability to complete fine motor tasks such as holding a pencil to write and draw and using scissors to cut paper.
There are some fun and playful ways to help your child develop his/her pincer grasp:
• Beans race: you need a handful of beans and a container for each player. You can have a race with your child to see who can move all their beans the quickest using the thumb and index finger. You can place the beans on the left and container on the right (vice versa). Beans can also be replaced with other items you can find around your home like little marbles, blocks and buttons.
• Playdough shapes: it’s always super fun to squeeze, pinch and roll playdough! You can make a snake by rolling the playdough with both hands flat on the table; a hedgehog by pinching the playdough; a snowman by rolling the playdough between the palm of your hands; and a cookie by pushing down on the playdough with one hand on top of the other.
• Pegs on a box: Pegs are an excellent tool for strengthening the muscles in our fingers and hands. You and your child can make a funny head by putting pegs onto the lip of a bucket or box (which look like wild spikey hair) and drawing a face on the surface of a bucket/box with a whiteboard marker.
• Catching snowballs: grab the tongs from your kitchen drawer and some cotton balls in your cabinet because these come in super handy! Spread the cotton balls across the table or floor and your child can “catch snowballs” using the tongs.
• Fun necklace: did you know you can make a colourful necklace using cut up straws, and dry pasta like penne and macaroni? Your child can thread old shoelaces through the straws and dry pasta pieces and voila, you have a fun necklace!
As you can see, you can create fun activities with the goal of developing fine motor skills in mind. Building connection and memory with your child is a massive added bonus too!
Author: Kaylee Cho – Occupational Therapist