Finger strength is important as it is required for many everyday activities such as doing up buttons and zips, handwriting, drawing, and picking up things. It is essential that kids have appropriate finger strength for them to have the confidence to play, write, draw and achieve other classroom activities.
Here are 10 OT activities that you can do at home to improve finger strength.
1. Finger Ball Walk
You can use any small to medium sized ball (eg. Tennis ball, toy colour balls, stress balls, etc.) and let your child “walk” the ball up and down their legs using their whole hand and fingers. Then let your child use his/her tripod fingers (the thumb, index and middle fingers). You can also let them try walking the ball up one leg, across the tummy, and down the other leg. If your child has a “lazy thumb”, let him/her use only the thumb and index fingers to walk the ball.
2. Theraputty Finger Exercises
Squeezing and working with Theraputty can strengthen intrinsic hand and finger muscles, which are necessary for fine motor activities, such as using scissors & dressing. It comes in all sorts of colors and they are affordable too! You can get a tub of Theraputty at our Cardiff and Singleton clinics. You can let your child make different size balls so that different pressure is being practiced. Below are some awesome ideas to use Theraputty:
3. Pom-Pom Transfer using Pegs
Who said pegs are just for clothes? They are also a great tool for improving finger strength while having fun playing. Fill a bowl with pom-poms on the left side of a table or tray and set an empty bowl on the right side. Let your child use the peg to transfer pom-poms from one bowl to the other. Then, you can let your child sort the pom-poms according to their colour. If you don’t have pom-poms you use beads or feathers.
4. Mini Paper Crumpling
Crumpling small pieces of paper into balls is a good tripod finger exercise and at the same time, makes a great decoration for craft activities. You can use crepe or tissue paper and cut them into small squares. Give your child one piece of paper at a time to squish them. Then let your child use the balls to decorate a picture.
5. Pool Noodles and Rubber band activity
Pool noodles are cheap and so versatile to encourage fine motor skills. All you need is a Pool noodle (cut up int chunks) and Rubber bands. Then let your child stretch the rubber bands onto the pool noodles. You can cut up the pool noodles into different lengths.
Threading with beads is a great activity to improve fine-motor skills and can also be used as a way to introduce young children to mathematical concepts like colours, patterns, shapes and counting. You just need large/small wooden/plastic beads, pipe cleaners, straws, shoe laces and yarn. Let your child connect the beads by inserting them into the pipe cleaners, straws, shoe laces or yarn. Jut make sure to make a knot at the other end of the string or you can stick down one end to the table using tape to prevent the beads coming off.
7. Tape Pulling
Pulling tape off of the roll and/or pulling it off of various surfaces like walls, tables and floors is a great hand strengthener for kids. Grab a roll of masking tape, washi tape or other colourful roll of tape and cut them to strips and stick them to a table top. Let your little one peel it off, stick it back down, make patterns or create pictures.
8. Bubble Wrap Popping
Everyone (young and old) loves bubble wrap! It comes in all different sizes and the sound it makes is just so satisfying. Give your child a bubble wrap with the smallest bubbles and let him/her snap it using their fingers. This is great for strengthening their little fingers and you can use the larger bubble wrap to strengthen the whole hand.
9. Paper Tearing
Paper tearing is inexpensive and fun! The act of tearing paper into small pieces encourages useful finger and coordination skills. Your child will learn to hold the paper between the thumb and index finger of each hand in order to tear paper. You can use tissue paper, light coloured paper, and/or wrapping paper. You can let them paste the paper to create a picture or craft.
10. Pipe Cleaner Strainer
This is a great activity to keep the kids busy while you are working in the kitchen. It is also an ideal challenge for your child to grasp objects using their whole hand or with thumb and index finger but isn’t quite ready for more refined fine motor activities such as lacing beads on a string. Just give your child a strainer and lots of pipe cleaners and you will be surprised of what he/she can do!
There are lots of fun, creative and playful ways that we can help kids build finger strength in the classroom, in the therapy room, and at home! Stay tuned for more tips and activities, or feel free to visit our facebook page for more fun activities https://www.facebook.com/happydotsot