Bracelets are fun to make, but they can be really tough for kids who have poor fine motor skills. If a child wants to make a bracelet but is struggling with being able to use two hands together (bilateral coordination), has difficulty using their “pincher” fingers effectively (thumb and index finger), can’t seem to coordinate hands and eyes (visual motor), or is just downright clumsy, try having them use a pipe cleaner instead of a string.
All you need are some beads…
…and a pipe cleaner.
Pipe cleaners are a great string substitute because they stay in place and don’t flop around, thus reducing the amount of fine motor control needed to successfully complete the task. Their fuzzy texture and hard wire give more sensory input to the fingers, which is great for kiddos who have underdeveloped or newly emerging fine motor skills. And their thick, fuzzy nature encourages beads to stay in place so they don’t slip off if the bracelet-maker loses focus or accidentally fumbles with their fingers. What a great way to minimize frustration and maximize success!
Pipe cleaner bracelets can also serve as a great fidget toy for the child who must always be touching, spinning, or jiggling something. They can play with it — spin beads, bend bracelet, etc. — while it is either on or off their wrist. Just make sure you’ve looped the pipe cleaner around the end enough times to know that the beads won’t go flying with all that fidgeting.
I hope you’re able to grant a child the gift of bracelet-making with this simple pipe cleaner trick. What are some other ways you like to modify bracelet-making for kids?
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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?!
. . . . .Please provide appropriate supervision to the child in your care when completing any activities from this site. You as the grown-up will need to decide what types of products/activities on this list will be safe for your child. If you’re not sure, check with your child’s occupational therapist or pediatrician. Appropriate and reasonable caution should be used when implementing any ideas or activities from this site, particularly if there is any risk of injury (e.g., falling, crashing), choking (e.g., small parts), drowning (e.g., water play), or allergic/adverse reaction (e.g., materials/ingredients). The author and blog disclaim liability for any damage, mishap, or injury that may occur from engaging in any activities or ideas from this site.