Pinching activities -Bury buttons, money, or small objects in putty. (treasure-hunt).
Pinching the putty using the thumb and first finger forming an “O”. Push the pinched fingers in the putty and squeeze the putty around them, now open the “O” to make “C”.
Packing bubbles!! Little hands usually have to use two fingers and a thumb to pop. Try to avoid having them use the side of their first fingers. Remember you want to promote tip-to-tip pinching not the kind used to turn a key. (at least not yet)
Rubbings - using the die-cut machine cut out letters or numbers, or pictures that begin with a letter the kids are learning. Using a glue stick secure that item to the table, then place a piece of paper over it and tape the corners down. This is better done when the kids can’t see what is under the paper! Again this is like a treasure hunt. Now give them a small piece of crayon (3/4”) with the paper removed. Lay the crayon in front of them don’t let them hold it like a pencil. Pinching with their thumb and first two fingers rub the whole piece of paper. The more stuff under the paper the longer the activity lasts. (usually all of 5 minutes). Quick success!
Gluing small items on paper makes them have to pinch, because just grabbing won’t work. You can start with packing peanuts and work your way down to corn kernels, peas or macaroni.
Stringing rigatoni noodles, macaroni, big beads, or buttons are fun because they can take them home. Buttons with two holes give them an opportunity to lace up and down. This is new language and coordination. It’s not much fun for them to slave over something and then have to take it apart because it’s school property.
Tree full of Monkeys. Pinch, spinning, eye-hand coordination and cooperative play. They love it when it falls.
Squish balls – good for stress and hand strengthening. This can be a very tactile activity depending on the balls.
Using eatable small foods, raisins, popcorn, cheerios, fruit loops allow the child to pick up as many as they can with only one hand and not letting the other hand help or their belly to roll it on. They get to eat the amount they can hold.
Using a marble maze – picking up one marble at a time and drop it in. This promotes pinch and tracking. Watch their eyes and how they keep up with the marble.
Big magnets – Yes these are fun just to smack together and they are for the kids! Pulling these things apart with little hands is not as easy as you think. Also as their attention span increases you can draw a 1” maze on paper and tape it to the table. Use all the directions that are use for making letters up, down, right, left, diagonals, across, around, above and below and Magic C.
Now put one magnet at the starting point and the other under the table, and have them follow the maze.
Hidden pictures! Simple ones at first. Sometimes it is just looking for all the apples in the apple orchard.
Rice in a plastic tub. Put small toys or shapes in under the rice and let the kids pick them out. This will check out if they are really sensitive to things. As they tolerate this, try having them identify the toy before they take them out of the rice.
Stuff like an olive picker upper, cherry pickers, tongs, ice cream scooper (scissor motion) they can usually be found in a kitchen gadget store (Portland!).
I use porcupine balls for them to pick up. Most kids like to use one of the above items so I only let them pick up two items with each. Stress with them they are only allowed to use two fingers and their thumb to pinch the grabber!
There is an Ice Cream game that I picked up years ago, it comes with a toy scoop that they squeeze. This is a matching activity. (visual perceptual)