Fine motor is more than neat handwriting
Aug 06, 2020
Below, you will find hand strengthening activities for children and teenagers. The activities to strengthen fine motor skills included in this post are perfect to improving grip strength, pinch strength, or as part of a finger exercises/isolation and pencil control.
Fine Motor Strength is essential for so many reasons! From maintaining a grasp on a pencil to opening and closing scissors, to buttoning buttons, playing with toys, tying shoes, colouring a picture without stopping, arts and crafts, pretty much everything we do, means hand strength matters!
Signs of weak intrinsic muscles in children: -
- Kids with weakness in their hands may have difficulty with colouring and complain that it hurts to colour large areas.
- You might see them colour or write using their whole arm instead of just their wrist and fingers.
- Hand weakness may be indicated by difficulty cutting a smooth line with scissors. Rather, you’ll see jagged snips.
- Kids with hand weakness might have trouble managing a zipper or pushing a button through a button hole.
- Weakness of the hand is indicated by a poor pencil grasp. Kids with intrinsic muscle weakness will write with a closed thumb web space and will use their thumb to stabilize the pencil.
- And then, you’ll see poor hand writing.
- Hand weakness is indicated by light pencil pressure that is almost illegible, or very light colouring.
- Difficulty with manipulating small items and using in hand manipulation managing small parts.
Hand Strengthening Activities
- Jenga blocks and elastic bands – Show your child how to wrap the bands around an individual block. That is it! Make certain patterns and support development of process skills e.g. red band, blue band and green band.
- Squirty toys/ empty bottles – To aim at targets in bath, sink, or buckets – put rubber ducks on water – use the squirt gun to see who can get their duck to the end of the bath tub first! Great family fun!
- Paper Football – Ask the child to rip the paper into strips (approx. 2-3 cm wide). Then using one hand roll the strips up into small footballs (ask them to sit on the other hand if needs be!) Then see which finger is strongest by flicking the football with each finger and see which goes furthest! Repeat with alternate hand. Can even make a goal if you like!
- Lego – Small blocks like lego are great for developing intrinsic muscles, with their resistance needed to push them together and pull them apart. The position hands need to be in to work lego is great for strengthening those muscles.
- Hole punch – Make a picture- anything that motivates the child and then use a hole punch to punch hole in it – you can then thread material, pipe cleaners through the holes for extra fine motor skill development!
- Squeeze/stress balls – Provides proprioceptive (regulatory input), great for hand strengthening and fun for children to fidget with too!
- Playdoh- Use play doh to roll into balls, sausages (using one hand and then both) – cut, chop, make into shapes – anything you like, build a imaginary world if you want! Great fun and great for hand strengthening.
For older children you could use light weights or water bottles – they have to hold onto them for as long as they can. Just ensure that they are not too heavy that it is too much for the teenager to hold and that you praise all efforts, even if they hold them for 10 seconds! They could even walk to the bottom of the garden and back to support engagement. – Make it fun!