Some children need extra help in strengthening the small muscles of their hands and wrists. And we all know that in order to keep the attention of preschool and younger school age children, we must give them activities that are engaging and fun.
Fun crafts, games, and other manipulatives are essential for children’s hand strengthening exercises.
Here are some great ideas to try out with your kids!
1. Use vertical surfaces!
Any activity that can be done on a vertical surface will help strengthen children’s wrists and help them grow stronger. For example, tape paper on a wall, and let children draw, paint or practice writing letters. For best results, make sure that the child keeps their elbow beneath the level of their hand when working. This will help with wrist extension that will lead to better control of the fingers.
2. Three-dimensional puzzles
Puzzles, especially three-dimensional puzzles, are great for strengthening hand muscles. Important skills such as grasping and turning puzzle pieces ensure that fingers are getting a good workout. Three dimensional puzzles may have the added benefit of turning pieces with a bit of tension such as in the wood snake puzzle or balancing as in the wooden star puzzle.
3. Clay or dough
Another great way to get little fingers stronger is to use different types of clay or dough, such as playdough, silly putty, modelling clay or even bread dough. These substances are excellent for squeezing, squishing, pulling, rolling, and moulding. For example, children can roll the dough flat, and cut out shapes with cookie cutters. Other ideas including using a plastic knife to cut out shapes, rolling balls, and making three dimensional figures like a snowman from the balls. All of these ideas provide something for the fingers to work against as they move, a key in strengthening the muscles.
4. Art tools
Provide art tools and let children create. Many tools require children to squeeze such as a hole puncher. Another good choice is allowing kids to squirt glue from the bottles. This can be a part of any collage making activity. Finally, tongs or tweezers can be used to place beans or pompoms on paper. This can be used with the glue activity or simply as a sorting game. Any of these craft ideas includes the use of hands to squeeze, thus strengthening the muscles.
5. Water Play
Water play can also involve a lot of squeezing if the right tools are provided. Allow child to play in a basin of water, bath tub, or a swimming pool in warm weather. Provide things that they can squeeze such as sponges, squirt bottles, and turkey basters. All of these tools will provide some resistance to being squeezed but children will love it. They will not know that they are doing hand exercises. They will just be having fun.
Any activity that makes it fun for children to use their hands for squishing or squeezing or picking up small items will help them to have stronger hands. The more fun the kids are having, the more they will engage in the activities. Over time, you will notice that their hands are growing stronger.
Do you have any tips to add to the list? Please share in the comments below.
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