Sugar Aunts: Fine Motor Fuzzy Beads for Letter Recognition

Fine Motor Fuzzy Beads for Letter Recognition

Today, I've got an easy letter recognition and fine motor activity for you to try with your preschool and kindergarten aged kids.  Sometimes a fun letter activity adds play to learning and the kids don't even realize they are learning.  Then, when you throw  in a fine motor component that might be difficult for them typically, it's a bonus!  We have been sharing a bunch of fine motor tips and tools lately.  It's part of our 31 Days of Occupational Therapy series and this fine motor activity is a perfect fit.  Whether you are looking for ideas for strengthening, in-hand manipulation, or fidgeting, this fuzzy bead activity will help those areas and more.  So, get ready to see how we came up with this Letter Recognition and Fuzzy Bead fine motor activity and get ready to make your own.  They will be a hit in your house or Occupational Therapy clinic!

This fine motor activity works on open web space of the thumb and finger in the hand. An open web space is important for fine motor tasks like handwriting and tool use.  Kids will love these ideas to work on an open web space, from an Occupational Therapist.


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Fine Motor Fuzzy Beads Activity (DIY beads!)


This fine motor activity works on open web space of the thumb and finger in the hand. An open web space is important for fine motor tasks like handwriting and tool use.  Kids will love these ideas to work on an open web space, from an Occupational Therapist.

This activity is so easy to throw together.  Grab a few colorful Pipe Cleaners and start cutting them into small pieces.  Cutting pipe cleaners is a fun way to get the kids snipping different materials besides paper.  My kiddos thought cutting the pipe cleaners was a fun activity and loved watching the little pieces fly as they snipped.  It takes a bit of muscle oomph to cut through the pipe cleaner so it's a great fine motor strengthening exercise.  You'll want the pipe cleaners to be about an inch long.  Some can be bigger, too.  

Bend the pipe cleaners into circles and pinch them so they stay in a ring shape.  This is a fantastic fine motor activity for kids.  Bending the little pieces of pipe cleaners really works on arch development of the hands and an open web space.  An open web space is essential for so many fine motor activities and dexterity.  Read on to fine out more about open web spaces and arch development below.  


This fine motor activity works on open web space of the thumb and finger in the hand. An open web space is important for fine motor tasks like handwriting and tool use.  Kids will love these ideas to work on an open web space, from an Occupational Therapist.

The only other material you'll need for this fine motor activity are Jumbo Fuzzy pipe cleaners.  we received ours from our friends at www.craftprojectideas.com, but you can find a similar product here.  Bend the fuzzy pipe cleaners into letter shapes to work on letter recognition and letter identification with your preschoolers.  Kindergarten aged kids can practice letter formation with the large pipe cleaners.  Keep s few strait, too, for making bracelets and jewelry.

Now for the fine motor fun part:  Using those little pipe cleaner beads that the kids created, show them how to bead them onto the fuzzy pipe cleaners for a threading task.  Beading is an excellent fine motor activity for children, as it opens up the thumb web space and works on skills like bilateral hand coordination, in-hand manipulation, visual scanning (as the child looks for the color they like!), and hand-eye coordination to thread the bead onto the fuzzy stick.


This fine motor activity works on open web space of the thumb and finger in the hand. An open web space is important for fine motor tasks like handwriting and tool use.  Kids will love these ideas to work on an open web space, from an Occupational Therapist.

What is an Open thumb Web Space and WHY do you need to care about it?

So, one of the important areas that Occupational Therapists work on when addressing a poor grasp on pencils, tools, and in functional tasks is an Open Thumb Web Space.  You know that space between your thumb and pointer finger?  That area that makes an "O" when you make the "OK" sign?  That is an important little place for dexterity!  To grasp small items with your thumb and index finger, you need to oppose the tip of your thumb to the tip of your pointer finger.  Not only do the tips of the fingers need to touch, but the thumb must rotate at the joint closest to your hand.  This opposition is needed to manipulate and grasp small items like shoe laces, buttons, and zippers.  

When kids write or color with that web space area squashed shut, it's a sign of problems.  Then might be compensating for thumb instability, underdeveloped hand arches, and/or poor strength.  Each of these problem areas will lead to difficulties with handwriting, dexterity, manipulation of small items like beads, and pencil grasp. Writing with a closed web space is inefficient and will cause poor and slow handwriting, especially as kids grow and are expected to write at faster speeds. A closed web space while attempting to manage fasteners such as buttons and zippers will lead to fumbling and difficulty. So, what do you do if you've got a kiddo who is squashing that web space shut during functional tasks?  I've got a few ideas on how to work on open thumb web spaces.  

(NOTE: This post and all others on this site are meant to be a resource, and not treatment.  If your child displays any difficulty that we discuss here, please refer to an Occupational Therapist for individualized evaluation and treatment.)

RELATED READ: Thumb Opposition With Paper Clips

This fine motor activity works on open web space of the thumb and finger in the hand. An open web space is important for fine motor tasks like handwriting and tool use.  Kids will love these ideas to work on an open web space, from an Occupational Therapist.

Open Web Space Activities

  • Beading (like our idea we shared above!) Other beading ideas include threading plastic beads on a string, placing cereal O's onto toothpicks, and stringing straws onto yarn.
  • Pick-Up-Sticks 
  • Wind up toys.
  • Barrel of Monkeys game. Encourage your child to pick up the monkeys with an open web space. 
  •  A game like Chinese Checkers encourages an open web space when the child grasps the small pegs with a pincer grasp between their thumb and the pad of their index finger. 
  • You could also try peg games like this HABA Color Peg
  • Push coins into a piggy bank.
  • Tweezers activities are great for an open web space. 
  • If handwriting and poor pencil grasp is an issue, try a pencil grip.
  • Pop beads. 
  • Roll play dough into small balls using the pads of the thumb and index finger. This is a great activity for developing arches of the hands and opening the thumb web space. 
  • Pop bubble wrap.
  • Screw and Unscrew nuts and bolts. 
  • Fold and crease oragami. This Origami Set & Booklooks like fun. Crease the paper between the thumb and pointer finger.
  • Pinching clothes pins.
  • Lacing cards are great for opening the thumb web space.  Prompt your child to keep their thumb web space open while managing the thread.  We've got lots of ideas here.
RELATED READ: Thumb Wrap Pencil Grasp
This fine motor activity works on open web space of the thumb and finger in the hand. An open web space is important for fine motor tasks like handwriting and tool use.  Kids will love these ideas to work on an open web space, from an Occupational Therapist.

Looking for more fine motor activities?  Stop by and follow along on our Fine Motor Play Pinterest board.  

You will love these Fine Motor ideas for kids: 
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