Everyday food items can help strengthen the muscles of the hand, work on bilateral hand coordination skills and grasp development. Read on for simple ways to incorporate fine motor work into your daily routine in a fun & functional way! 🙂
1. Snap peas. Try to split them apart down the middle to reveal the peas. If that’s too challenging, do it for your child and then have him/her pick out the peas using a pincer grasp (pad of thumb and index finger together). For a younger child, you can add an educational element by counting the number of peas inside each pod. Each one has a different number inside!
2. Peeling a clementine. Start to peel it for your child, then hand over for them to finish the rest! Peeling apart each slice is also great for strengthening fine motor and grasping skills.
3. Corn. During those summer months, give your child corn to husk. Peeling back each leaf is definitely hard work and great for strengthening those little hand muscles.
4. Eggs. Peel the shell off hard boiled eggs. This can be tricky, considering most adults even have a hard time with this one! Try starting it for your child and let them finish. *A little trick to making it easier to peel eggs is to add 1 tbsp of vinegar to 4 cups of water. Put the eggs into boiling water and let boil for about 15 mins. When they’re cooked, soak them in ice water and peel as soon as they’re cool.
5. Grapes. Plucking each grape off the vine is a great way to work on bilateral hand coordination and using a pincer grasp. If your child is young, be sure to cut grapes in half first before letting your child eat in order to avoid a choking hazard.
6. Green beans. Picking the little ends off and snapping them into two pieces.
7. Uncooked pasta and spaghetti. Younger children will have fun putting pastas such penne onto uncooked strands of spaghetti. We used little chunks of play dough to hold the spaghetti strands in place.
8. Cheeses. Peeling string cheese or even opening mini Babybels (pulling apart the wax covering)
9. DESSERT! Scooping ice cream, putting frosting on top of cupcakes, eating candy such as Twizzlers Pull ‘n’ Peel or unwrapping Hershey Kisses all work on bilateral skills and hand/ finger strengthening 😉
Good luck… and don’t forget, all kitchen tasks such as stirring, scooping, kneading peeling, pouring, using a can opener can help work on fine motor skills. If your child is able (and willing!) to help out in the kitchen, it’s a great opportunity to work on fine motor skills in a functional way.
Encouraging the development of fine motor skills lays the foundation and helps young children during self care tasks such as learning to tie shoes, using utensils during mealtimes, buttoning, zippering a coat and also helps with creative art play such as gluing, cutting with scissors and coloring. Later in life, having strong fine motor skills helps with handwriting and being able to hold a pen/ pencil with a mature grasp pattern during academic tasks.
Author: Christina is an OTR/L and owner of Sensory TheraPLAY Box