Strong hands & fingers

Fingers and hands need to be strong in order to write neatly and to write at the required speed.

Children who do not have strong finger and hand muscles

  • become tired quickly

  • may have uncoordinated drawings

  • may have poor handwriting

  • may have diffiuclty cutting with scissors properly

  • may have difficulty using other hand tools for activities such as typing.

To increase muscle strength

  • gradually increase the amount of time spent doing an activity

  • provide resistance against movement

  • repeat specific movements for extended periods of time.

Activities that develop hand and finger strength include:

  • Play dough/Clay/Plasticine play with a variety of tools. You can squash plasticine into a baking tray and use this for practising drawing and writing. “Erase” by rubbing with fingertips.

  • Cooking activities involving kneading and mixing rolling, beating, sprinkling, decorating cakes or biscuits.

  • Hole punching and stapling activities.

  • Stamping activities or stamp textas.

  • Spray bottles (spray flowers in the garden or fill with paint for a different art experience). You could knock small plastic animals down. Use index and middle fingers in the trigger.

  • Water play involving squeezing sponges, pouring cups.

  • Games involving the use of tongs/teabag squeezers. Fish for items (such as sponges/ping pong balls) in water, or move small objects from container to container (beads, peas, smarties, blocks)

  • Tweezers are smaller again and could be used to pick up items like mini marshmallows.

  • Clothes pegs are a common item that can be used to develop hand strength. You could put pegs on a line/container according to colour, or you might attach letters to pegs and spell words.

  • Games such as Trouble, Hungry Hippos and Beetle.

  • Scrunch paper basketball. Rip/tear pages from old magazines, scrunch into a ball and “shoot a hoop” into a washing basket or similar. Start with using two hands to scrunch then try one at a time. Avoid using tummy/furniture to help.

  • Hammering activities (into soft wood or foam).

  • Tearing/ripping paper or magazines, perhaps to make a collage

  • Screwing/Unscrewing jars or containers. You may place items inside such as craft materials or highly desired food items.

  • Wind up or jack in the box toys

  • Constructional activities such as Lego/Duplo/Mecchano/Kinnex

  • Origami

  • Playing with elastic bands

  • Cutting through different textures of paper

If you are concerned about your child's fine or gross motor skills, visual perception, eye hand co-ordination or handwriting an occupational therapist is the person to see for advice. An occupational therapist can assess your child's skills and advise you on what to do to help your child's development. For more information about occupational therapy check Our website. There are also lots of great activity ideas on the Talking Matters Pinterest page.

Our website now has lots of occupational therapy information sheets to download on motor skills, sensory integration and daily living skills. Check it out here!

Abbey Mengler

Occupational therapist

Talking Matters

Related posts:


Fine motor skills

Occupational therapy

Gross motor skills

Body awareness

Calm alert and learning

Create and learn

Starting school

Top literacy ideas

Early literacy

Reading and writing

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