If you’re looking for a way to help Preschoolers and Kindergarteners practice matching colors while also strengthening their fine motor skills, then check out this fine motor activity using kiddie chopsticks and colored toilet paper rolls!
WHAT YOU’LL NEED:
- 4 empty cardboard tubes (toilet paper or paper towel rolls)
- 4 colors of small blocks (these foam blocks were a buck from the Dollar Tree)
- 4 pieces of construction paper in colors that match your blocks
- Paper cutter or scissors and the superhuman ability to cut in a straight line
- Hot glue gun (don’t let kids help with this one!)
- Rubberband and pair of disposable chopsticks from the last time you ordered take-out
- Optional: Shoe box lid or some type of tray to contain all the parts
HOW TO PUT IT ALL TOGETHER:
Step 1: Cut your four pieces of paper the same width as your cardboard tubes.
Step 2: Hot glue one piece of paper around each tube. I would suggest gluing the starter end onto the tube to anchor it on, and then gluing the finishing end to hold it all together. Remember, hot glue is HOT! Watch out for your fingers.
Step 3: Once all four tubes are wrapped in their respective colors, glue the four tubes together.
Step 4: Assemble your kiddie chopsticks. It’ll take you less than a minute. If you don’t know how to do this, then CLICK HERE to see my step-by-step tutorial on how to make kiddie chopsticks.
Step 5: Gather the rest of your supplies so your kiddo is ready to test it out! You don’t have to put everything in a shoe box lid or tray, but it helps to have some way to transport all the pieces from place to place.
Step 6: PLAY!
Here are some pointers to consider for this fine motor color-matching activity:
- You can set out the materials for this activity as an independent center or an invitation to play (what’s that?) in a home or classroom setting.
- When using the kiddie chopsticks, encourage the child to grasp the sticks with either their “tripod” fingers (thumb and pointer pinch while the chopsticks rest on on the knuckle of the middle finger, just like when grasping a crayon or marker) or their “quadrupod” fingers (thumb, pointer, and middle finger pinch while the chopsticks rest on the ring finger). Younger kids will have an easier time using the quadrupod grasp on the kiddie chopsticks, while olders will have a better shot at grasping with a tripod. This helps them practice strengthening the muscles needed both for cutting with scissors as well as coloring with crayons and writing with pencils.
- To help a Preschooler or Kindergartener isolate their fingers more easily while working with kiddie chopsticks or tongs, try having them “hide” a small item in their palm (e.g., piece of tissue, play dough, marble, cotton ball, etc.) with their last 2-3 fingers. See a picture of this tip in action in THIS POST if you need a visual.
- Even though grasp is important, don’t get too gung-ho about making kids hold the kiddie chopsticks perfectly when starting out. They may get frustrated and give up the activity altogether if the grown-up interferes too much while trying to position and re-position their little fingers. You can demonstrate how to hold the chopsticks at first, but then allow them to explore the activity and do their best at problem solving how to hold the chopsticks (with a little help if needed or if they’ll accept the help) in order to engage in the activity. You can work on helping them refine the grasp a little more once they become more comfortable with the concept of the activity.
- If they have difficulty grasping and using the kiddie chopsticks even after demonstration and support from a grown-up, consider taking a step back and showing them how to use little salad tongs or serving tongs instead of skinny chopsticks. This will make the fine motor aspect of this activity a little easier while still providing them practice with hand strengthening, coordination, and problem solving.
- If chopsticks or tongs just aren’t working for a particular kiddo, then ditch the tongs and just use fingers. It will still give them the opportunity to practice using age-appropriate grasp patterns as they pinch and hold with their thumb, pointer, and middle finger. Don’t be afraid to meet them where they’re at with the level of fine motor challenge you provide (something therapists call the “just-right challenge”), and then gradually provide opportunities for increased fine motor challenge as they progress in their hand skills.
And remember, sometimes the best fine motor activities can be done using household items from your cupboards and kitchen drawers, just like this one! To see more kid-friendly fine motor activities you can do using household items, CLICK HERE.