Occupational Therapy

           Activities to Improve Hand Skills

    These activities can be used to help develop fine motor skills, improve hand grasp skills and reinforce prewriting concepts which are necessary for writing.

    Drawing and Prewriting:

    ·         Stacking blocks, sponges, and boxes (this reinforces vertical concept, requires balance and visual motor control),

    ·         Push objects (blocks, cars) along floor following a “road map” (this reinforces horizontal concept, requires visual motor control, provides deep pressure input into muscles, helps build shoulder stability and strength),

    ·         Provide different opportunities to explore different textures (finger paint with jello, pudding, cool whip, lotion)- see if your child can imitate or copy the design you make,

    ·         Encourage your child to trace different shapes/letters outlined with yarn, sand paper, play dough,

    ·         Provide your child with stencils to color in, trace around to provide feedback of the border of a picture

    Working at a vertical surface encourages the development of appropriate wrist and hand positions required for fine motor and prewriting tasks. Consider using and easel, chalkboard, or taping a coloring picture to wall to incorporate this into your child’s play routine. The following are suggestions of activities to be done on a vertical surface:

    ·         Draw  a design on chalkboard – have your  child make design “disappear” with a paint brush or trace the design,

    ·         Make a picture with stickers,

    ·         Games such as Lite-Brite and Connect Four are set up for vertical orientation,

    ·         Paint with paint brush or finger paint while in the bath tub,

    ·          Provide magnetic  letters for use on the refrigerator to practice spelling name,

    ·         Position Magana Doodle in upright position for drawing,

    ·         Allow child to put window clings on window to decorate for holidays.

    Manipulative activities help to develop the small muscles of the hand that are needed for writing and other fine motor activities. They also help to develop perceptual skills. Engaging in toy manipulation everyday help to develop our hand muscles and perceptual motor skills. Consider having your child participate in some of the following activities daily.

    1.       Play dough:

    Encourage your child to roll into logs or snakes, have child break into small pieces and then roll it into balls, flatten in between thumb and finger tips, hide pennies in it and have them find them.

    2.       Tear paper:

    Allow your child to tear tissue paper, paper towels, construction paper, and newspaper into pieces. You can then have your child glue the pieces onto pre written letters or shapes to make a completed project.

    3.       Spray bottles:

    Provide your child with a spray bottle in the bathtub to clean up their finger paint drawings. You can have them use it to make pictures on a blackboard disappear. Using a spray bottle helps develop muscles needed for writing and scissor skills.

    4.       Pinch activities:

    Consider mixing two types of cereal together and have your child sort them into different bowls. Games such as Operation and Bed Bugs use tweezers which are good fine motor play. Have child use clothespins to hang favorite pictures on a line for display or their art work.

    5.       Provide time for lacing and stringing activities,

    6.       Sort small objects into containers with lids so child has to twist off cap to retrieve objects,

    7.       Pickup Sticks and Perfection require fine motor and visual motor skills.

    Exposing your child daily in fun manipulative activities will help to develop the fine motor and visual motor skills required for writing.

    Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or concerns.

    Stephanie Sparks, OT


Last Modified on September 1, 2020