In-Hand Manipulation skills allow kids to explore and use small objects by moving them around within their hands. There are three primary in-hand manipulation skills: rotation, shift, and translation.
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Think of someone twirling a baton in their hand, but now picture it on a smaller scale…twirling a baton with your fingers! This is rotation. Rotation moves an object in a circular motion. A great example is when a child rotates his pencil using the fingers of only one hand to use the eraser.
While rotation creates a circular pattern, shift moves an object in a linear pattern within the hand. I always picture an inchworm when I think of shift. When kids adjust how high or low their grasp is on a pencil, they shift it in their hand – inching their fingers up or down the pencil (without assistance from the other hand).
Translation can be broken into two separate skills: finger to palm translation and palm to finger translation. Kids use finger to palm translation when they pick up small objects like pebbles, marbles, or cheerios one at a time, moving them with the fingers of only one hand into their palm.
They use palm to finger translation when they move those small objects from their palm back to their fingertips one at a time to place them on the floor or table.
Kids typically develop these skills between the ages of 2 and 4, with finger to palm translation developing first, followed by palm to finger translation, rotation, and shift. At these young ages, children are able to perform the skills with a single object. By ages 6 to 7, they are able to manipulate and stabilize multiple small objects within the hand and can use these in-hand manipulation skills more purposefully and functionally.
Here are some of our favorite ideas for working on in-hand manipulation skills with kids:
-Make crafts with small pieces/objects like making your own Seed Collection.
-Try this Super Easy Fine Motor Activity with stickers and marbles.
-Try a few rounds of Finger Gymnastics!
-Put coins into a piggy bank or small objects into a container with a slit cut in the top.
-Practice opening and closing containers with tops that twist on and off.
-Practice stringing beads.
-Crumple and/or tear paper
At The Inspired Treehouse, we believe that information about developmental skills and child development should be accessible to everyone, not just medical professionals. You won’t find a lot of complicated lingo here – we prefer breaking things down into terms that are a little less intimidating. That’s why we’re bringing you this awesome series: The ABCs of Child Development!
Over the next few months, we’ll be making our way through the alphabet, assigning the letters to different developmental skills. From gross motor to fine motor to sensory and more…when it comes to developmental terminology (and easy-to-understand definitions), you’ll find everything you’re looking for all in one place!