Hand strength is essential in many aspects of life, and many kids come to preschool lacking hand strength.
Many teachers and parents don’t know how to motivate kids to work on developing their hand strength. Thankfully, there are plenty of playful and fun hand strengthening activities for kids to work with them and help them develop stronger hands!
What is Hand Strength?
Hand strength is the ability to grip something tightly.
Many activities require hand strength, including writing, drawing, playing with playdough or Lego bricks, zipping zippers, buttoning buttons, and opening packets or containers.
Hand strength improves with practice.
Why is Hand Strength Important for Kids?
Children who lack hand strength will often struggle with handwriting, cutting out paper shapes, or opening containers.
Children who struggle with these activities may feel frustrated or upset, affecting their self-esteem and confidence. Their frustration may manifest as behavior problems.
How Can We Help Develop Hand Strength?
Developing hand strength is very important. The good news is that everyday play like climbing, crawling, and other weight-bearing activities will naturally help tiny hands grow stronger.
Additional everyday hand strengthening activities that can help exercise and build hand strength include putting toys in containers, playing in the sandbox, and opening containers.
Some kids may need a little extra help to work on hand strength and develop fine motor skills. Here are some fine motor activity ideas to help you out.
Water Gun Activities
You can make art with squirt guns or use them for target practice.
If you don’t want to deal with paint in the squirt guns, kids can squirt water at pieces of paper hanging on a fence. Draw letters or words on the paper as an exciting way to incorporate literacy learning.
Spray Bottle Activities
Fill a spray bottle with water and let kids clean windows, toys, rocks, or produce like pumpkins or apples. Your kids can water flower seeds or plants with a spray bottle. You can also paint with spray bottles.
Hole Punch Activities
Kids enjoy using craft punches that come in a variety of fun shapes. Use them to create artwork.
A plain old-fashioned hole punch provides a lot of excitement and opportunities for building hand strength as well.
A stapler makes an excellent toy for kids to use, and it helps their hand strength.
Kids can staple sheets of paper together, or they just add staples to construction paper shapes.
Kids also feel a sense of accomplishment when they assemble little mini-books.
Using glue is another simple hand-strengthening activity to consider.
Okay….some kids REALLY love squeezing glue from a bottle and may be tempted to use LOTS and LOTS of glue. Just remember that as they are squeezing, they are building hand strength.
Give kids opportunities to make dots and lines and squiggles with glue. Try colored or glittery glue to mix things up a little bit.
Paint with a Squeeze Bottle
Kids may be used to painting with a brush. Why not mix things up and experiment with using squeeze bottles for painting.
Puffy paint is fantastic to use in squeeze bottles.
Kids can squeeze paint onto paper to create designs, or they can use the color to trace lines, letters, or their names.
Again, If you don’t want to mess with paint, you can still get kids using squeeze bottles. Fill a squeeze bottle with plain water, and your kids can use it to draw designs or make letters on concrete.
Crumbling Paper Activities
Squeezing paper into balls also gives kids an opportunity to build hand strength. They find crinkling paper so much fun. It’s a sensory activity as well as hand strengthening.
Fill a tub with paper and encourage kids to crumple it up to make a “paper ball sandbox.”
They can make balls for a snowball fight. They can also ball up a sheet of foil to make moon rocks.
Tearing Paper Activities
Provide some paper and show kids how to tear the paper in half or into tiny pieces. Then, you can use the torn paper collages or art projects.
Playdough is a very motivating tool to build hand strength.
I like to encourage kids to push things like bolts, coins, buttons, or mini-erasers into a ball of playdough. Want to step it up a notch? Hide objects in theraputty instead of playdough. Theraputty is often used by Occupational Therapists. It has much more resistance than playdough, so kids have to work harder to push things into the putty.
A plunger? YES! I picked this idea up from a preschool teacher at a conference. But, of course, you will make sure that it’s a brand new, never-used in the toilet plunger.
Pick up a couple of plungers from the dollar store and let kids attach them, and then pull them up off the floor.
Sponge & Washcloth Activities
Soak sponges or washcloths in water until they are completely saturated. Then, encourage kids to squeeze out all of the water from the sponge or washcloth.
You can make it a game by showing them how to soak up the water in one container and then transfer it by squeezing it into another container. You can challenge your kids to see how quickly they can move the water
Rubber Band Activities
You can even use office supplies for fine motor and hand-strengthening activities.
Kids can grasp the rubber band in their hands and pull it back to stretch it out. They can stretch rubberbands around cans or pool noodles.
Clothespins seem to be a favorite hand strengthening activity. Kids can use clothespins to attach things together or hand something from a clothesline.
Toys to improve hand strength
While you don’t have to spend a lot of money on activities that develop hand strength, here are a couple of great toys that many teachers and occupational therapists recommend.
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Build Hand Strength with These Resources in the Store
Are you looking for additional hand strengthening activities for kids? Here are some activities in the Early Learning Ideas store. Click on the images below to check them out.