Occupational therapists find creative ways to adapt tools & toys to address the development of fine motor skills. Here are a few ideas:
Use metal tongs (strawberry pickers) in the game Kerplunk to grasp the marbles and colored sticks. By incorporating the metal tongs in this game, the child needs to maintain enough pressure to sustain a closed grasp on the game items as he or she manipulates them. This simple addition is an excellent way to increase intrinsic hand strength.
Similar to the idea above of increasing intrinsic hand strength, especially for the fingers that hold a pencil, try using a clothes pin to grab and release checkers when playing the game Connect Four.
Adhere a popsicle stick to the lower part of the fishing pole in the game Lets Go Fishing. The popsicle stick provides a wider base for finger placement to promote a proper tripod grasp in preparation for writing tasks.
A Z-vibe pencil elicits slight vibration that “wakes up” little muscles in the hand and tends to decrease muscle fatigue when writing. By adding a pencil grip, such as the CLAW (see photo) a child’s fingers can be placed in a more efficient grasp that leads to increased motor control when writing.** Please note that the Z-vibe, battery, and pencil kit are all separate purchases
Add a dice to a game such as the Hungry Dog Motor Skills Game. Have the child roll the dice to see how many bones they get to feed the dog for each turn they take. Encourage the child to cup his hand (only do one hand at a time) and shake the dice within his palm without it falling out for 3 to 5 shakes. Cupping the palm in this way works on developing the arches in the hands.
Hide the robot body parts in the appropriate resistive Theraputty. Have the child use his or her fingers to pull out the pieces and then assemble the robot. Using the Theraputty in this activity adds a hand strengthening component to constructing the Robot Bits.
Please share any ideas or different ways you have adapted toys, tools and/or activities that have proven to be helpful for children developing their fine motor skills.
– Sari Ockner, OTR/L** Please note that I have no financial connections to the companies or products mentioned above that are linked for purchase in the Amazon store. I am part of the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and each purchase provides a small percent of profit for advertising fees. Any earnings collected each month are continually donated to various charities that support children with special needs.