Long before a child holds a pencil, they should squish & squeeze & smoosh & dig & pull & push & climb. Those little muscles in the fingers & hands need to be strengthened long before we expect them to write. Sensory play is an amazing way to do just that!
Here are a few of our favorite tools to use:
Beads & pipe cleaners
This activity is great for strengthening fine motor skills, practicing life skills & working on color identification! If you don't care for the texture of wet pom poms, have the child use the juicer to squeeze fresh lemons, limes or oranges!
Using safety scissors (no sharp blade, just dull edges) to cut play dough is how I always recommend beginning cutting practice. It is a safe & effective way to learn proper form. Have them roll the dough into a snake (so good for those hand muscles) & then cut!
You can use a sticker on their thumb to remind them to keep it facing up. We also sing “open shut, open shut, that’s the way we cut, cut, cut!”
Squirt bottles lend themselves perfectly toward strengthening fine motor skills. They are fun, they are simple & they are so very effective. You can use them to water the plants, to squirt the pavement, to rescue frozen treasures...the possibilities are endless!
There are so many ways to use pony beads & pipe cleaners. You can sort by color, make patterns, count, create bracelets or bubble wands! So many ways to learn, create & play with them, all while strengthening those important finger muscles!
Clothespins are another universal tool that are incredible for strengthening fine motor skills & there are SO many ways to use them! Here are a few of our favorite ways:
Put a pom pom in between the clothespin & paint with them.
Hang up a piece of string & hang up papers with the clothespins.
Write the numbers 0-10 & clip them to the line in numerical order.
Write lowercase letters on the clothespins. On a piece of cardboard, write upper case letters around the edge. Find the matches & clip the clothespins on!
Tongs & tweezers are perfect for pinching & squeezing & grabbing. Use them with pom poms, to rescue items from play dough, to dig through frozen treasures or in a sensory bin full of your favorite base.
*As a reminder, small items are choking hazards. You get to decide what is safe & manageable in your home. Never leave small children unattended.*