Blink—And They're Grown

Parents, Families and Child Care

Strength Training for Little Fingers

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On Saturday, I had the pleasure of being a part of the “Learning Through Play Conference” at the Cincinnati Museum Center. It was a wonderful day full of educational sessions for parents and early childhood professionals. One session included play ideas for children to help them develop small muscle coordination–necessary for writing and develops naturally over time as a child plays. Here’s a small list:

  • Play with playdough and clay.
  • String beads.
  • Fingerpaint, shaving cream, pudding and cool whip.
  • Work puzzles.
  • Cook, especially when it involves stirring, spreading, cutting etc.
  • Dress dolls.
  • Tear up paper for pasting and gluing.
  • Play “office” by using tools like scissors and hole punchers.
  • Drive toy cars and trucks along masking tape roads.
  • Build with tinker toys, legos, and blocks of all sizes.
  • Poke pretzel sticks into soft cheese cubes for snack.
  • Make a rubber band board for your child by pounding roof nails into a flat, square board.
  • Shell peas.
  • Wash doll clothes and hang them to dry with clip type clothespins.
  • Snap fresh green beans into pieces to cook for dinner.
  • Play with pegboards.
  • Pick dandelions.
  • Paint with water colors or poster paints.
  • Garden together. Plant seeds. Pull weeds.
  • Play in the sand or water with colanders, sieves, flour shakers, funnels, plastic tubing.
  • Scribble and draw.
  • Crumple up wads of paper and aim them at a basket.
  • Play a game of matching …use different jars and lids and practice screwing the lids on.
  • Enjoy action songs and fingerplays such as “Twinkle, Twinkle” and “Eency Weency Spider”.
  • Play dress up, especially with clothes that have buttons and zippers…old billfolds, purses etc.


One thought on “Strength Training for Little Fingers

  1. Great list! All that play is super important stuff! Talk about “sensory integration” – kids that like these type of activities should be encouraged and allowed to enjoy themselves! When a child avoids these types of activities, such as my son (who has autism), it is important to keep encouraging, inviting, and celebrating any attempt so that the child will not give up – these activities can be very challenging for a child who has sensory and processing challenges. Believe in the child, start small and build, help the child realize “hey, look what I can do!”