Simple Fine Motor Strengthening Activity


Are you looking for a cheap product that will easily help to strengthen your child’s hands? A familiar item that not only helps strengthen fine motor skills but other fundamental skills as well. That item is pipe cleaners. Yes, pipe cleaners! Using pipe cleaners for a fine motor activity is beneficial for the development of your child’s hand muscles needed to carry out daily small motor tasks such as feeding, buttoning clothing, tying shoes, manipulating objects, and pencil grasp, just to name a few. Exposure to fun fine motor activities promotes a sense of achievement while helping to strengthen the digits and hand muscles necessary for handwriting and other vital tasks.

The muscles of the hand, commonly referred to as intrinsic muscles, aid in the grasp of a writing utensil. Intrinsic muscles allow for “cupping” items in the palm of the hand. These muscles are essential for pencil grasp and for the development of hand arches for skilled movements of the fingers. In addition to, strength and endurance for writing, coloring, drawing, painting, and cutting.

Fine motor skills and development from this activity include:

  • Fine motor strength
  • In-hand manipulation
  • Hand-eye coordination
  • Tripod grasp (the thumb, middle and index finger grasp the writing utensil)
  • Bilateral coordination
  • Extended wrist
  • Speed
  • Wrist stabilization and strengthening
  • Endurance
  • Arch development

Materials: Different colored pipe cleaners cut into 3-4 inches in length.

Activity: Have your child collect 2 pipe cleaners that are the same length. Hold the pipe cleaners side-by-side with the nondominant hand (assisted hand) at the top. Using the dominant hand, he/she will then twist the pipe cleaners tightly together as one unit, repositioning the hand as it travels. The promotion of in-hand manipulation is achieved by repositioning hand. In-hand manipulation is important when adjusting the fingers for pencil grasp, in order to reposition the pencil to write. 

fine motor activity

Note: To make the activity more challenging you can use more or thicker pipe cleaners. You can even keep the pipe cleaners their original length, repositioning the nondominant hand as needed. 

Happy Twisting!

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Leslie came to Columbus 2 yrs ago via San Antonio, TX. A Kentucky native that bleeds neither red (Louisville Cardinals) nor blue (Kentucky Wildcats). She is a SAHM, homeschooler and Occupational Therapist (OTR/L) by weekend. Leslie and her husband have two boys, ages 6 and 2, and they love discovering new Columbus parks and restaurants! She proudly embraces the title of "boy mom", even when that means knowing more than she would care to know about dinosaurs. Her everyday wardrobe consists of mainly Nike Dri-Fit and sneakers. Leslie lives for her Burt's Bees lip balm and a good ole top knot bun. You can always find pull-ups, wipes, hand sanitizer, and Welch's fruit snacks in her designer handbag. She loves her family, fashion, interior design, working out, being a soccer mom, renovating the families 1962 ranch with her husband, and making a difference in her patients' lives. She recently became an advocate and volunteer for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. It is her hope to bring awareness and help raise funds, for a cause that is near and dear to her heart. She is also the owner and founder of The Penmanship Lab.