Listed below are some great activities to strengthen the small muscles. There are many other things that your child can do to build these muscles to make writing, cutting and other activities easier for him/her to do in class.
1. Pick up and sort objects such as blocks, spools, coins, beans, marbles, cotton balls, pins, buttons, straws, nails, nuts, bolts, popcorn, etc.. and place them into containers of varying sizes (i.e. egg cartons, cups, mugs,
2. Pick up objects (blocks, cotton balls, counters, etc.) using various sized tongs and strawberry pickers, transferring them between containers.
3. Stack objects (i.e. coins, cards, checkers, blocks, etc.)
4. Screw and unscrew objects such as nuts and bolts, caps from jars, etc.
5. String beads onto a shoelace.
6. Run a threaded needle through cloth.
7. Fasten safety pins.
8. Cut straight and curved lines/shapes drawn on paper, cloth, etc., with scissors. (children's size scissors)
9. Play the piano.
11. Crumple paper in a small ball and then flick it with the finger (play "soccer" with the paper ball.)
12. Shuffle cards, deal cards one by one, turn cards over.
13. Roll a pencil between thumb and fingers without dropping it.
14. Knead dough. See Fun Things to Do for recipes that you can make at home.
15. Stick small objects into play dough for him/her to pull out.
16. Wind thread on a spool evenly.
17. Put rubber bands around various size containers and objects.
18. Use tweezers to pick up small objects.
19. Move spoonfuls of small objects from one bowl to another.
20. Do up buttons, zippers, hooks, etc.
21. Tie shoelaces.
22. Cut lines on the newspaper for practice in using scissors.
23. Trace and copy letters.
24. Do connect the dot puzzles.
25. Solve mazes.
26. Manually sharpen pencils.
27. Use a manual can opener.
28. Tie a box with string or ribbon.
29. Put keys into locks to open doors.
30. Put paper clips onto paper.
31. Use a stapler.
32. Remove staples with a staple remover.
33. Place clothespins on the edge of a box or container.
34. Dial a telephone.
35. Set a watch or clock.
36. Pick up or move marbles (or nuts in shells) using a melon baller. This could be made into a game - i.e. take turns rolling a die. Whatever number turns up, pick up that number of "marbles" and place them into an egg carton.
37. Use Wikki Stix (available at Lakeshore) to form shapes, letters, numbers, and other designs. You may want to use a template.
38. Color using the flat side of a crayon. Put paper over leaves, stencils, and other objects so that the child gets sensory feedback as he colors.
39. Make a matching game (pictures, letters, etc.) using a coffee can and clothespins. Have the child put the clothespins on the rim of the can.
40. Use sprayer bottles filled with water and sponges to have the child "clean" a desk or table, then squeeze the excess water into a dishpan. This is a great pre-scissor skill activity.
41. Lace various sized beads. Any activity involving the use of both hands is good to develop bilateral integration.
42. Have a cutting center. Give the student a magazine and let him cut out the pictures he likes to make a poster. Glue on pictures and later let him tell why he chose those pictures.
43. A fun activity with young toddlers is to fill a sensory table/bucket with colored pompoms and provide small tongs and strawberry baskets (or another basket/bucket) for the children to fill their baskets.
44. Also using tweezers to pickup different items .kind of like sorting. maybe in egg cartons or something else.
45. Older children may practice strengthening their fingers for cutting by using a rubber band to just stretch, release, stretch, release, etc. (Stress the importance of playing with rubber bands safely!)
46. Play dough play with young children with the terms: poke, squeeze, pound, press, knead, etc. is always good for language too.
47. Use a turkey baster to squeeze water and squirt it out. This is fun to do outside!
Please try to keep these activities fun and integrate them as much as possible into your daily routine (i.e. Let your child help you measure and key to open your door regularly; let your child be the one to set your watch or clock, etc.).