Hand Strengthening Activities
To be able to properly hold a pencil, the hand must be strong enough to maintain an open web space or to use the thumb in opposition. These activities strengthen the gross grasp of the hand to be able to move onto skillfully using the thumb in opposition. These activities, most of the time, naturally position the hand and fingers in the proper position and do not normally require close monitoring of the hand motions. Just make sure when your child begins one of these activities, that the thumb is grasped around the object and not just placed along side of the index finger (thus not using the thumb). If your child positions his or her thumb properly, they can do these items with minimal supervision.
1. Squirt Bottles Use a squeeze bottles to mist household plants. Use it to make spray pictures on a chalk board. Squirting off shaving cream off the shower wall with a spray bottle filled with water colored by food color is a popular activity! It also works best for hand development, to teach your child to place the ring, little fingers around the neck of the bottle and use the index and middle fingers to activate the trigger.
2. Sopping Sponges Use a half cylinder foam or sponge to sop up water and then squeeze it to transfer the water to another container.
3. Hammering Use a hammer and pound large headed nails into cork, fiber board, styrofoam or other soft wood. Golf tees can also be hammered into styrofoam. Covering the styrofoam with burlap will keep the styrofoam chucks contained.
4. Animal Walks Do different kinds of walking on hands, the wheelbarrow walk, bear walk, crab walk.
5. Playground Equipment Let your child spend time playing on playground equipment, the monkey bars, a swing. Anything that encourages gripping by the hands. Be sure that the thumb is played around the bottom of the bars and not beside the index finger.
6. Cutting with Scissors Cutting with scissors on different thicknesses of paper. Be sure that your child holds his/her scissors with the index finger not in the loop, but resting under the loop to better guide the scissors around curves.
7. Gardening Scissors Cutting thin sticks or weeds with garden scissors is a functional way to develop hand strength.
8. Stirring Cooking activities that require stirring (especially mixing ingredients) are excellent for developing hand strength.
9. Opening Jars Screwing and unscrewing jar lids can help to develop hand strength. The amount of strength needed can be graded by how tightly the lids are put on. Try "hiding" little manipulatives inside to make it more of a game.
10. Play Dough Playing with play dough or modeling clay can help to develop hand strength. Using the kitchen rolling pin on the play dough is another way to add another strengtheing activity to the play.