Therapeutic putty play
Some examples of fine motor skills in toddlers include grasping and pinching objects with their fingers. Parents can help their children to improve hand strength with the use of resistance putty, which can be purchased online. Eva Pacchetti-D’Amaro, occupational therapist at Every Person Develops in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, recommends this technique: “Hide coins or beads in the putty for your child to find,” she said. (Use larger objects for children under three years old.) Then, “instruct your child to place coins in a piggy bank or string beads onto a string to make jewelry,” she adds. Parents can also make putty circles for their child to open. This skill is especially helpful when the parent helps their child isolate their thumb, pointer, and middle fingers to open the circles and encourages the child to switch between left and right hands, says Pacchetti-D’Amaro.
Bear and crab walking
“Core muscle strength, upper body stability, visual-spatial skills, and gross coordination are foundations necessary for children to master fine motor skill development,” says Pacchetti-D’Amaro. In order to develop these skills, toddlers can perform a wide variety of exercises to master fine motor skills and to engage their brain for learning. One exercise that can easily be done at home involves homemade bowling pins created from empty soda bottles. Parents can paint the bottles bright colors and fill them with rice to add weight. Set them up in a random bath in a large space and have your child bear walk on all fours or crab walk from pin to pin. Once they reach a pin, they can kick it or hit it to knock it over.
Hole punching fun
Using a hole punch to create a picture or design will improve both hand strength and visual skills, according to Pancchetti-D-Amaro. Here’s to do: With a marker, draw the shape or design of your child’s choosing on a piece of paper. Instruct them to use the hole punch to create the border of your drawing. An older child can use yarn or a pipe cleaner to lace in and out of the punched holes. This activity is perfect for a rainy day as well as these other indoor activities for toddlers.