Sunday 15 April 2012

Pincer grip activities

(Goblin is 30 months)
When Goblin was younger he went through a phase where his favourite thing was scribbling with felt tip pens. He'd do it several times every day and I was really optimistic that contrary to the apparent norm that boys tend to be "reluctant mark makers", he was going to be enthusiastic. Unfortunately I hadn't appreciated how quickly toddlers change and their favourite activities shift. Now I'm lucky if Goblin picks up a pen once a week, and even then his activity is usually brief. So I wanted to find alternative activities to keep him practicing his pincer grip so that when he does get back to using pens and crayons he will have the muscles he needs to help him control the implements.
I had some polystyrene craft eggs that I failed to get round to doing anything with over Easter. So I put them on Goblin's shelves with some cocktail sticks. While watching an episode of 'Dora the Explorer' (His new favourite TV show) he took the tray to the sofa and started to play. 
He carefully inserted the cocktail sticks into the eggs. He did try cheating and putting loads in at once but he quickly realised that it wasn't as easy as putting one in at a time. I helped him to put some extra ones in so they looked like hedgehogs. He liked this and sat cuddling his spiky hedgehogs while he finished watching his TV show. 
As a little aside, it did occur to me at one point when he cuddled his hedgehog a bit too close to his face and stabbed his cheek, that some parents might not let their kids play with spiky cocktail sticks at his age. I'm more of the school of thinking that if you don't give a child enough rope to hang themselves, they can't discover all the other uses for that rope.  And if they've never seen the rope how can you teach them how to use it safely.

The other activity we did was moving coloured water with a turkey baster. Not only is this a great pincer grip strengthening activity but it is good for teaching a child to follow instructions, sequence events and have some patience.When Goblin first tried to use the turkey baster (without instruction from me) he kept squeezing the bulb but lifting the tube out of the water before it had filled up. But once he started listening to what I was telling him he realised he needed to leave the tube in the water and let go of the bulb so the water was sucked up, before he lifted the tube out of the water. A turkey baster is not as intuitive to a toddler as you might think and Goblin needed quite a bit of practice before he got it. And even then when he got over excited he'd pull the tube out to fast again.

I'm sharing this with
Montessori Monday Tot School


  1. Thanks for these activities!

    The photo of Goblin with his hedgehogs made me laugh. It reminded me of a photo one of my friends posted on Facebook of a "toy" her friend had given to her sons -- a wine cork with toothpicks sticking out of it. Needless to say, no one who commented on her post thought this was a good child's toy.

    I suppose as parents we all have to decide for ourselves what level of "danger" we find acceptable for our children.

    1. Eryn you are so right that its down to each parent, and each parent will know best what their child is likely to do with something potentially dangerous - and how much stress they as a parent will feel if their child is playing with it.

  2. Love the idea of using a turkey baster for water transferring. We will definitely have to try that!

  3. Bobo loves Dora, too. We sing "I did it!" all the time. I love when he corrects me, "Mama, we're not done yet. Don't sing!" I think it's a trait of boys to like sticking sharp objects into other things? I just make sure I'm out of the way, LOL. If someone's going to be injured, it's always me.


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