The ability to use tongs and kiddie chopsticks is a pre-scissor skill, and the ability to use scissors is a pre-writing skill.
Pretty cool, huh? Tong play is especially great for older toddlers and preschool-aged kids. Be sure to encourage them to use their “pincher fingers” (thumb and index finger, and younger ones can add in the middle finger) when operating their tongs so they can exercise the right muscles for learning to use scissors, crayons, and pencils. If they have difficulty figuring out which fingers to use, tell them to make an “L” shape with their thumb and index finger before placing them on the tongs…learned this trick from a parent, and it’s brilliant!
You only need three things to make kiddie chopsticks:
• A set of cheap chopsticks
• The paper that comes with the chopsticks
• A rubberband
Step 1. Break apart the chopsticks.
Step 2. Roll up the paper all the way to the end.
Step 3. Place the rolled up paper in between the two broken ends.
Step 4. Place the rubberband over the chopsticks, on the side of the paper that’s closest to the middle.
Step 5. Pull the rubberband down, twist to form an “X”, and bring it up over the outer end of the chopsticks.
Step 6. Wrap remaining rubberband around the end until tight and secure.
Ta-da! Easy peasy.
A few tips: (1) The thicker you roll the paper, the wider your chopsticks will be (great for beginners). (2) Cheap, square-ish chopsticks are easier for kids to use than fancy round ones. Just grab a pair the next time you order take-out and you’ll be good to go.
If you feel like you need a little more visual guidance check out this great, easy-to-follow video: How to Make Kid-Friendly Chopsticks (this is actually how I learned to make them).
Kids can use these chopsticks to practice picking up and placing various items (such as balls of play dough) into containers. Have them pinch off the dough and roll the balls themselves for added fine motor practice.
Kids can also use tongs to increase challenge while stacking small blocks. (I’m thinking chopstick Jenga might be a fun challenge, too!)
Be sure to check back later this week for a big list of ideas with lots of different ways to play with tongs/chopsticks to promote your child’s fine motor and pre-writing development.
[Update: Here is the post with 50 fun ways to play with tongs!]
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In addition to being mama to two sweet little boys and wife to a crazy awesome husband, Christie is a Registered & Licensed Occupational Therapist (OTR/L). She holds a B.A. in Psychology with a Minor in Education from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA...Go Bruins!), and an M.A. in Occupational Therapy from the University of Southern California (USC OT). She has experience working as a pediatric OT in early intervention (birth to 3), clinic-based, and school-based settings. Her mission with MamaOT.com is to encourage, educate, and empower those who care for children. Christie loves that she gets to PLAY when she goes to work, is hopelessly addicted to Kettle Corn, and is known for being able to turn virtually anything into a therapeutic tool or activity, from empty food containers to laundry and everything in between. Learn more about Christie and what inspired her to become an OT.
Occupational therapy (OT) is a holistic profession that helps people across the lifespan participate in the things they want and need to do through the therapeutic use of everyday activities, also known as “occupations”. Some OTs help people diagnosed with disability, injury, or disease. Others help prevent disability, injury, or disease. Because of occupational therapy, people of all ages are able to say, "I can!" no matter what their struggle. Isn't that amazing?!
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