Fun Ways to Strengthen Those Little Hand Muscles

  1. Play with water guns
  2. Use small spray bottles to water plants. Be sure to keep ring and pinky fingers around the neck of the bottle and the index/middle fingers to pull the trigger.
  3. Use chalk spray outside on the driveway/ pavement (chalk in a spray bottle!)
  4. Anything where your child is weight-bearing on his/her arms such as wheelbarrow walking or doing animals walks such as walking on all fours like a “bear.” These types of movements are great for building core/ shoulder stability and strength.
  5. Hang from monkey bars at the playground
  6. Squeeze a stress balls while watching TV
  7. Draw with broken pieces of chalk or crayons. Don’t throw your broken crayons out! They’re great for kiddos to color with because they force them to hold them in their fingers and gets away from immature grasping patterns.
  8. Take two different colors of play-doh or clay and squish them together until they are completely combined
  9. Roll up putty into a long “log” and cut with scissors along the length into small pieces
  10. Use a hole punch. To increase difficulty, hole punch thicker papers such as index cards or construction paper which require more hand strength.
  11. Have your child help with cooking- stirring, kneading, zesting, grating cheese all work those small muscles of the hand
  12. Play card games. Holding them with one hand in a “fan,” dealing them out one by one, learning to shuffle. Even though this is pretty hard to do, learning and practicing is a good workout for the hands.
  13. Working at vertical surfaces at or above eye level helps promote shoulder and wrist stability (specifically wrist extension which is needed for a mature pencil grasp). For example, playing with small flat magnets on the fridge (such as word magnets you can make silly phrases and sentences with), drawing with window markers on windows (or on car windows),  or coloring at an easel or paper taped to the wall.
  14. Wash car with large sponge
  15. Hide objects in a bucket of uncooked rice and having your child dig through to find them.
  16. Hide objects in putty and have your child use their fingers to dig through to pull them out
  17. Cut a slit in a tennis ball. Have your child put small objects such as coins inside with one hand while squeezing the ball open with the other hand. You can make it more fun and silly by drawing a face on the tennis ball and telling your child to “feed him” by putting cheerios, mini marshmallows, or uncooked pasta pieces into the “mouth” (slit in the tennis ball)
  18. Practice eating with connected chop-sticks
  19. Tearing cotton balls apart (this is good to do as a winter craft activity to make “snow”)
  20. Next time you get a packaged delivered, save the bubble wrap and let your child pop it by pinching each bubble using their index finger and thumb. It’s fun and kids LOVE popping bubble wrap.
  21. Play with wind-up toys
  22. Squeeze open clothespins. Clip all over clothes or on a stuffed animal and then unclip. Write letters around the edge of a paper plate & also write letters on each clothespin using a sharpie. Have your child then clip each corresponding clothespin onto the matching letter on the plate.
  23. Another clothespin activity can be found here {Baby Bird Eats the Worm Fine Motor Sensory Bin}


24. Play with Legos

25. Tong activities. Use tongs to transport or sort small items such as pom poms according to color.

26. Games such as Don’t Spill the Beans, Operation, and Hi Ho CherryO are all great for developing fine motor and grasping skills.

-Written by Christina, OTR/L & Owner of Sensory TheraPLAY Box (the sensory toy subscription box)


Other articles you may find helpful: Work on Fine Motor Skills with the Help of Food!

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