Grip Exercises Using Kitchen Tongs

It surprises me how many items we already have at home that can help our toddler strengthen his grip. Why is this important for them? I just recently discovered it actually.

While on a mission to search for homeschooling activities for toddlers, I always came across activities called fine motor skills and gross motor skills. While they were cute I was unable to find an explanation behind developing these skills. That is, until I came across the The Learning Basket website. I joined a homeschooling group for children of early years in Facebook and found out about her blog. I liked it immediately because it was local. As much as I was inspired by the blogs from international mommies, I liked it better that I could follow a homeschooling mom in the same country as I was. When she shared her article entitled 15 Activities to Strengthen Pre-Writing Skills, it caught my attention and I opened it. There, I learned that exercising their fine and gross motor skills actually help our little tots strengthen their hands and fingers for writing. Of course not just writing, but for tasks that we as adults can do with such ease.

So, armed with that knowledge, I am more intentional with my toddler’s activities for the day and try to squeeze in exercises to strengthen his grip. Here’s one such exercise. It’s not unique. I actually got this idea on Pinterest. You can head there if you’re in a rut for what to let your toddler do for the day.

What you’ll need:

  • Tongs
  • A bowl (I used a round cake pan)
  • Smaller bowls ( I used my cupcake pans)
  • Pom-poms ( You can purchase these from crafts or bookstores like Japan Home and National Bookstore)

1. First, demonstrate to your child what you want him/her to do. 

When we went home to Cagayan de Oro for summer vacation, we were able to enter our toddler in a trial program offered by Abba’s Orchard (a montessori school). I was sitting in as well and I would notice that every time Dylan wanted to do a new activity, the teacher would tell him to sit with his hands on his lap first and look at how teacher is doing the activity. Then she’d let Dylan do it.

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Demonstrate that the goal of the activity is to transfer pom-poms from the big bowl into the small bowls using the tongs. Once you finish, let him/her try.

2. It’s not going to be perfect, but let him explore. 

If your toddler got it at the first try, I applaude you. Really. Our child fiddled with the tong first, stuck it in the bowl, positioned the tong over a couple pom-poms but couldn’t get any out.

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Fortunately he didn’t get frustrated. He simply tried and even came up with a different way of getting the pom-poms into the tongs.

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He would take a pom2x, stick it inside the tongs, and drop it into the cupcake pan.

3. It also helps improve hand-eye coordination, too. 

It’s more than just an exercise for his hands and fingers. It also helps his hand and eye coordination, too. This is because he would learn that in order to get the pom2x using the tongs, he would first need to align the tongs with the pom2x, grip, lift, and transfer it to another bowl.

4. It also improves focus and concentration. 

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The picture says it all. Look at that face. He’s concentrating what with the strength and focus needed just to get that one pom2x pinched between the tongs and stay there until he releases it.

We’ll be doing more exercises like these to prepare Dylan to grip his pencil and write in the near future!

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