The therapists at OT for Kids are always seeking out fun and engaging ways to improve hand strength as this can help children to improve in occupations that are required for school readiness, including fine motor and handwriting.
We like to share our ideas to help parents/carers, teachers and others who support children to incorporate these activities into daily life to support development.
First on the list is a favourite of the therapists and the children LOVE it! All you need is a tennis ball, cut a slit (adult job) in the front of the tennis ball. Your child can then decorate the Pacman how they want e.g. googly eyes, funky hair etc. The idea is that the child pushes the sides of the slit to open the mouth of Pac Man and then feed it. The food could be dried pasta, pom poms, small Lego or anything small enough to fit in the mouth. To grade the difficulty level of this, you could challenge the child to pick the “food” up with tweezers to feed Pacman.
Clothes pegs are great for improving hand strength in children. The therapists at OT for Kids ask the children to design their own clothing including; trousers, t-shirts, jumpers, socks etc. (from paper/foam/felt) and then peg them onto a clothes line. This can be large clothing or smaller clothing items dependent on the length of the session.
Theraputty!! Every child loves theraputty. Theraputty and play dough can be manipulated and modelled into a variety of things including; snakes, snails, monster hand, and many more. (Please see blog on theraputty and play dough for more information).
Cutting (craft) activities
Any craft activity involving cutting improves hand strength. Cutting lines or shapes also develops other skills including; bilateral integration, orientation, motor planning, hand eye co-ordination. Some examples of craft activities used by the therapists at OT for Kids include; paper chains, Fireworks, pumpkins.
Tweezers can be used to pick up all sorts of items including; bricks, blocks, pom poms, coins, balls, and many more. One of the therapists here at OT for Kids uses tweezers in a relay to collect items from a small washing basket with a string attached in order to grade the level of difficulty.