I’ve shared a DIY tutorial before on how to make kiddie chopsticks, and I mentioned that the ability to use tongs is a pre-scissor skill, and the ability to use scissors is a pre-writing skill. When kids use tongs, they have to learn to “separate” the two sides of their hands (thumb/index finger side and middle/ring/pinky finger side). This is exactly what is needed in order to successfully operate both scissors and a pencil. Think about it…
Kids can start playing with tongs as early as toddlerhood. I love to give toddlers short salad tongs so they can use with their whole hand to start out. As children get into preschool and early elementary school, they can use more “refined” pinching tools such as homemade kiddie chopsticks, tongs, and tweezers.
Today I want to share with you 50 clever, fun ways to play with tongs to support your child’s fine motor development!
Many of these are ideas I’ve used and others are the wonderful ideas of those who work with kids and have blogged about it — therapists, parents, teachers, daycare providers, and more. I’ve had so much fun learning about new ways to play with tongs from these posts…some of them are just totally genius!
Be sure to share other ideas for playing with tongs, tweezers, and chopsticks in the comments section at the end of this post. I’d love to hear how you’ve been using tongs with the kids in your life! As with all activities shared on this site, please make sure the activity you select is safe and appropriate for your child, and please provide appropriate supervision when offering activities containing small pieces. This post contains affiliate links for your convenience. This means if you click the link and end up making a purchase, I may receive a small commission. Thanks for your support! (See full disclosure here.)
PLAY WITH TONGS FOR FINE MOTOR PRACTICE
1. Use tongs to put pom poms in a water bottle from Mama OT
2. Use salad tongs to transfer marbles from one bowl to another from Mama OT
4. Feed a big mouthed frog from Therapy Fun Zone
5. Use tongs with candy and suction cups from Havin’ Fun Yet?
6. Use tongs to put beads on suction cups from PreKinders
7. Use tongs or tweezers to put pom poms in an ice cube tray from PreKinders
8. Cut open little pumpkins and let kids pull out the seeds with tweezers from PreKinders
9. Use tweezers on seeds from PreKinders
10. Use tongs or tweezers to place marbles on an upside down bath mat from Play Based Learning
11. Use salad tongs to put bath toys in a bucket from i’m going to make it (after all)
Related Resource: 5 Things to Keep in Mind When Working on Fine Motor Skills
USE TONGS IN THE KITCHEN AND AROUND THE HOUSE
12. Use tongs to pull toast out of the toaster
13. Use tongs to help serve foods at mealtime such as fruits, veggies, pasta, and salad
14. Eat with tongs or chopsticks (salad, pasta, meat, popcorn, etc.)
15. Pick up dirty clothes with tongs and place in laundry basket
16. Go on a toy scavenger hunt with tongs and a bag/basket
17. Feed the family pet (e.g., dog, fish) using tongs
18. Clean up bath toys and washcloths with tongs when bath time is all done
20. Use tongs to hunt for plastic spiders in a laundry basket web from Mom Inspired Life
Related Resource: 25 Fine Motor Activities Using Household Items
USE TONGS IN THE GREAT OUTDOORS
21. Collect pieces of nature (leaves, sticks, etc.) with tongs and put in a bag or bucket
Related Resource: How Outdoor Play Helps Kids Build Social and Emotional Skills
USE TONGS DURING GROSS MOTOR PLAY
22. Sneak fine motor work with tongs into a gross motor obstacle course from Mama OT
23. Use tongs with pretend bugs in a tunnel from Therapy Fun Zone
USE TONGS WHEN PLAYING SPECIFIC GAMES OR DOING PUZZLES
24. Use tongs while playing Connect Four from Mama OT
25. Use tongs to move game pieces while playing board games from Mama OT
26. Use tongs while playing Jenga
27. Use tongs or chip clips to pick up puzzle pieces that have tiny pegs on top
28. Play Mancala while using craft pom poms and tongs or a chip clip from Therapy Fun Zone
Related Resource: 10 Gifts to Help Your Child’s Pencil Grasp without Using a Pencil
PLAY TONG-SPECIFIC GAMES
29. Bed Bugs from Amazon.com
30. Operation from Amazon.com
31. Hungry Dog from Amazon.com
32. Hungry Monkey from Amazon.com
33. Hungry Bunny from Amazon.com
34. Wok and Roll from Amazon.com
35. Scatterpillar Scramble from Amazon.com
Related Resource: Best Toys and Games to Help Kids’ Pencil Grasp without Using a Pencil!
USE TONGS DURING CRAFTS
36. Complete crafts while using tongs or tweezers (e.g., placing items like beans, dry macaroni, cotton balls, pom poms, balls of tissue paper, etc. onto glue)
37. Use tweezers and beans to create a tiger picture from Lessons Learnt Journal
38. Place pom poms on a picture with tongs from It’s Our Long Story
39. Use tweezers when creating designs with Perler Beads
USE TONGS DURING PRE-ACADEMIC AND WRITING GAMES
40. Use tongs to sort colored blocks into matching toilet paper tubes from Mama OT
(this was featured in Learn with Play: 150+ Activities for Year-Round Fun & Learning!)
41. Use tongs to sort beads in a paint palette from PreKinders
42. Use tongs to practice 1:1 correspondence & color sorting from We Can Do All Things
43. Use tongs to practice counting pom poms from Crayon Freckles
44. Use tweezers to sort beads and practice reading from Mrs. Kelly’s Kindergarten
45. Play “Color Pop” while practicing writing letters and words from Therapy Fun Zone
USE TONGS DURING SENSORY PLAY
46. Use salad tongs when playing with pom poms or dry noodles from Mama OT
47. Use salad/scissor tongs when playing with Jingle Bell Sensory Bin from Mama OT
48. Use salad tongs when playing with slimy rainbow noodles from Mama OT
49. Use salad tongs with bear counters in cornstarch & water from We Can Do All Things
50. Use salad tongs on toys in the water table from The Activity Mom
MORE TONGS AND TWEEZERS FOR KIDS
Easy-Grip Safety Tweezers from Amazon.com
iPad Chopsticks from Therapy Fun Zone
Scissor-shaped “Handy Scoopers” from Amazon.com
Straw Tweezers from Teach Preschool
Gator Grabber Tweezers from Achievement Products for Special Needs
Squinkies and Zinkies from Therapy Fun Zone
Edison Training/Helper Chopsticks from Therapy Fun Zone
If you have a fun idea or great blog post about other ways to use tongs, tweezers, or chopsticks to promote fine motor skills, please share it in the comments below!
NOTE: This post has been republished with updated links, content, and images since its original publication date of October 16, 2012.
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