Check out some of our favorite ideas to build hand strength through everyday play!
Strong hands are an important component of developmental skill building for all kids! Think about all of the functional tasks that kids use their hands for on a daily basis: opening doors, turning on faucets, buttoning clothing, holding and controlling a pencil…
Pediatric occupational therapists spend all kinds of time creating and implementing programs designed to improve a child’s hand strength. And, at The Inspired Treehouse, we have posted many of our favorite ways to make little hands strong through card games, DIY fidgets, lists of our favorite toys and even weight bearing activities.
But probably our favorite way to teach our families and kids to strengthen hands easily everyday is through play opportunities at home! We bet that you already have tons of stuff around that is great for making the entire hand strong.
So let’s explore so of the ways that your child can build hand strength every single day through play!
Hand Strengthening Through Everyday Play
Holding onto those ladder rungs is a challenge for some kids! But keep practicing! The vertical surface of the ladder makes kids’ hands work hard to grip those rungs and stay on against gravity.
Grasp, release, grasp, release. Monkey bars are a great way to work the endurance of tiny hand muscles.
Play in Quadruped
Maintaining the hands and knees position promotes strengthening in so many muscle groups including the neck, core and hands! This weight bearing encourages co-contraction of the muscles which means the flexor and extensor muscles are working together to hold a child up!
Have the child place her hands on the floor while you or another child holds her feet. See how far she can walk on her hands.
Walk like a crab, bear, donkey or inchworm to promote more weight bearing through the hands!
Tug of War
If I were a kid, I’d be gripping that rope with all of my might to keep the other team from pulling me across the line! Which team has the stronger hands?
Play Dough, Putty, or Slime
Squishing, pinching, rolling, squeezing, smushing – all great for building muscles in the hands! Putty can be purchased in different levels of resistance to make the challenge harder.
Mr. Potato Head
The pieces of this game are relatively big and easy to grasp and the repetition of changing the faces over and over again is great for strengthening! Some of other recommendations for toys that do double duty as hand strengthening hits include Squigz, bathtub squeeze toys, wind-up toys, and Pop Beads.
A day at the beach (or in the sandbox) is another fun way to strengthen the hands. Kids can dig in the sand with their hands or shovels, build sand castles, and carry buckets of water or sand.
Simply helping around the house allows kids to use their hands and fingers in many different ways, which can help build strength. Try throwing laundry down the chute or into the washing machine/dryer, washing the car, washing floors/tables/windows/dishes, shoveling snow, raking leaves, taking out the garbage.
Working and playing in the garden offer many opportunities for building strength in the hands. Have kids dig in the dirt with their hands or a shovel, pull weeds, lift and pour a watering can, and spraying plants with a spray bottle!
Kids love playing with “grown up” materials. Squeezing a stapler (with supervision), folding paper, using paperclips are all fun hand strengthening activities.
There are tons of fun and playful ways that we can help kids build hand strength in the classroom, in the therapy room, and at home! Stay tuned for the new Hand Strengthening Exercise Program – coming your way soon!
This 23-page printable digital resource is packed with more than 30 ideas for building hand strength through play and includes QR codes that lead to engaging video clips of each activity. The resource also includes printable cards with the scannable QR codes and suggestions for using them at home, in the classroom, or in the therapy room.
Looking for more information and ideas about hand strengthening for kids?