Looking for a way to work on toddler fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination? Or, here’s a better question…looking for a way to keep your toddler busy? Give them a colander and some pipe cleaners (both of which I found at the Dollar Tree), demo how to use it if needed, and let them go to town. You might be amazed at just how entertained they will be.
This activity is an ideal challenge for the child who is able to grasp objects with their whole hand or with thumb and index finger, but isn’t quite ready for more refined fine motor activities such as lacing beads on a string. As with many activities, taking the pipe cleaners out is easier than putting them back in, so it provides a natural grading of challenge for kids at a variety of skill levels. However, you might be surprised at how interested your little one may be at trying to place them back in the holes after they have been quickly ripped out.
Putting the pipe cleaners in encourages precise hand movements and higher level hand-eye coordination than lower level play skills such as stacking two blocks or placing pegs in a board. Encourage your child to hold the pipe cleaner with their fingers pointing toward the tip (toddlers aren’t expected to have a mature tripod grasp like the way adults hold a pencil at this point), as opposed to grasping with their fist and turning their arm in so the thumb-side of their hand is facing down.
Depending on your child’s age and skill level, you can add all sorts of educational challenges to this activity by involving your child in identification of colors, sorting and matching colors or sizes, and more. Try this activity out, save it for a rainy day, and prepare to (hopefully) be amazed by your toddler’s newfound fine motor skills!