Hand Strengthening Building & Engineering Busy BagToday in our 31 Days of Occupational Therapy series, I ;m sharing this super easy and super fun hand strengthening activity. This is a no-prep activity that you can pull out on a rainy day, while waiting at a restaurant, or when the kids are itching for something different to do. This building activity is a fun STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math) activity that can be modified to meet the needs and interests of your kiddo. I pulled this one out one day when a little nephew was over, and he loved building with something that was a little different than typical building blocks. This is a great activity for Occupational Therapists use in their treatment. We're working on so many skills here: strengthening, bilateral hand coordination, motor planning, and hand eye coordination.
How many ways can you think of to build and create while strengthening little hands?
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Hand Strengthening Building Activity
You'll need just two materials for this activity:Jenga pieces and a handful of rubber bands in different sizes. And that's it!
Show your kids how to wrap the rubber bands around the wooden blocks in different ways. Let them get creative with building and creating.
My little nephew was so excited when I showed him this. Cool Aunt status! He sat and built creations for a long time. And wathcing those little hands building and working was fun for me! Manipulating the rubber bands is such a fine motor workout for kids. Intrinsic hand muscles are needed for so many functional tasks.
Signs of Weakness of Intrinsic Hand Muscles in Kids
- Kids with weakness in their hands may have difficulty with coloring and complain that it hurts to color large areas.
- You might see them color or write using their whole arm instead of just their wrist and fingers.
- Hand weakness may be indicated by difficulty cutting a smooth line with scissors. Rather, you'll see jagged snips.
- Kids with hand weakness might have trouble managing a zipper or pushing a button through a button hole.
- Weakness of the hand is indicated by a poor pencil grasp. Kids with intrinsic muscle weakness will write with a closed thumb web space and will use their thumb to stabilize the pencil.
- And then, you'll see poor hand writing.
- Hand weakness is indicated by light pencil pressure that is almost illegible, or very light coloring.
- Difficulty with manipulating small items and using in-hand manipulation in managing small parts.
- Trouble with grasping tools like utensils. scissors, scoops, tweezers, and eye droppers.
- Difficulty manipulating and grasping small toys.
Some other ways that are perfect for hand strengthening are toys and games that are typically recommended by Occupational Therapists. These are some of my favorites:
Toys and Ideas for Working on Hand Strengthening for Kids
- Squeezing water bottles to water plants.
- Therapy Putty or play dough. Roll the dough into small balls.
- Tear paper.
- Crumble small squares of tissue paper.
- Cut cardstock.
- clothes pins to match colors in games and learning activities
- Building toys like this Building Blocks Disks or a favorite in our house, ZOOB Building Set
- Squirt toys like these Munchkin Five Sea Squirts to aim at targets in the bathtub, sink, or plastic bins.
- Small blocks such as LEGOs are perfect for strengthening the intrinsic muscles, with their resistance needed to push them together and pull them apart. The position hands need to be in to work LEGOS is perfect for strengthening the muscles in the hand.
- Squeeze a hole punch to create lines of holes along an edge of paper.
- Eye Droppers and Tweezers are a fun way to explore sensory play while working on fine motor skills.
- A squeeze toy like this Squishy Mesh Ball is great for hand strengthening and a fun fidget too.
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