Basic reflexes include the grasp, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, and physicians examine this reflex to determine a child's developmental stage and evaluate neurological functions. Developing grasping motions helps with flexibility and strength. Doing grasping activities with your child builds gross and fine muscles in the hands and arms. There's no need to buy special equipment. Ordinary things found around the house help you do grasping activities with children age 2 to 5 years old.
1. Pinch Fun
Children develop different types of hand grasps, and one includes a pinching motion between the thumb and fingers. Encourage your child to play a pinching game with stuffed toys to strengthen the grasp and develop hand muscles. The pinch activity allows children to pinch hard to develop grasping skills and also learn the names of colors. Set up a group of stuffed animals for the pinch game. If you have different types of plush toys, mix animals with blocks and dolls in a large pile. Ask your child to pinch toys with fur or cloth featuring one color. Help your child learn the names of toys by focusing the game to pinch only animals, and then confine the pinches to the dolls or blocks in the pile of toys.
2. Pick Up
Grasping small items from a flat surface with the fingers and transferring the items to a container develops fine motor skills. Select small items such as plastic coins, large beads or disks, and play on a flat surface, such as a table. Supervise this activity at all times due to the risk of choking. Start with larger items, such as large beads, and as your child's skills improve, shift the game to pick up smaller items, including plastic coins or tiny plastic disks.
3. Tweezers Dump
The toy tweezers dump moves small items such as blocks from one place to another using giant, plastic toy tweezers. This activity requires your child to use the grasp to put pressure on the tweezers. Too much pressure on the toy tweezers and the block won't release to fall into the container. Too little pressure by your child on the tongs and the block drops before reaching the container. Combine this activity with a sorting game to add interest. Put out multicolored blocks, ask your child to hold the container and then ask her to pick up blocks of only one color to deposit into the container. This exercises both hands, one with the tweezers and the other holding the container, and requires developing the coordination to manipulate both hands. Even though the tweezers are designed for children, special care is necessary when using the toy.
4. Ball Sorting
The egg carton sort offers another activity to improve your child's grasp. Putting one small crumpled-paper ball in each cup of the egg carton requires your child to develop a firm grasp. Placing the ball gently into one cup of the carton requires your child to pinch firmly on the paper ball until releasing it. Use different colored paper and matching colored inserts for the bottom of the egg carton cups. Matching the colored paper balls with the pieces of paper in each cup helps children identify colors, in addition to developing the grasp.
- Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired: Fine Motor Development
- Children's Hemiplegia and Stroke Association: Hand Play
- National Center for Infants, Toddlers, and Families Zero to Three: Activities Bonding and Learning Birth to 12 Months
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: The Reach-to-Grasp Movement in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Infantile Reflexes
- Connectability.ca Kids: Practical Strategies for Developing Fine Motor Skills
- Boyer Children's Clinic: Fine Motor Skills -- Hand Grasp Development
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