Pinch Grip

Developing and strengthening a pinch grip is needed for handwriting skills. Pinch grip activities can be thought of as pre-writing skills. Many activities, games, and crafts can involve pinching with the thumb and one or two fingers. Participating in these activities can help children develop a functional pinch grip.

  • Clothespin activities
    • Using standard clothespins, have kids pinch the clothespins with their thumb and first or first and second finger. Clothespins can be lined up along the edge of a box or can.
    • To incorporate more skills into the activity:
      • Color the clothespins and work on color matching or patterns
      • Write letters on the clothespins and work on arranging letters in name or spelling sight words
      • Write numbers and math symbols on the clothespins and work on basic math skills
    • Clothespins can also be used to manipulate other objects
      • Pick up light weight beanbags with the clothes pins
      • Try to drop the beanbags into containers or try to toss the bags by opening the clothespin at the right time (kind of tricky)
      • In a group of several kids, stand in a circle and pass the beanbag around the circle by grabbing it with the clothespin. You could play a game like ‘hot potato’ this way.
    • Clothespin painting
      • Use clothespins to pinch and grab cotton balls or small sponges to paint with.
  • Tweezers or tongs
    • These activities are similar to clothespin activities, but instead of pinching to open, you’re pinching to grasp the object which also requires some skill in pressure modulation
    • Do a craft activity using tongs to decorate with things like cotton balls, pom poms, etc
      • To make it more challenging, use objects with different sizes and shapes. Also try using hard and soft objects that require different amounts of pressure to pick up and hold.
    • Use the tongs to pick up and stack small blocks
    • Use the tongs to sort objects by color or shape
    • Play board games using the tongs to move the pieces
    • Put knobbed puzzles together using tongs to pick up pieces
    • Use tongs to attempt to pick up objects floating in water
    • Play games that naturally involve tongs such as:
      • Bed Bugs
      • Operation
      • Thin Ice
      • Feed-the-animals
      • Wok and Roll
      • Scatterpillar Scramble
  • Toothpick Activities
    • Push toothpicks into fruits and vegetables
      • To make it harder use firm vegetables
    • Using chopped up fruits, make fruit kabobs by pinching the toothpick and poking it into the fruit
    • Push toothpicks into different putties
      • Vary the firmness of the putty to make it more or less difficult
  • Stringing beads
    • String beads onto string, ribbon, or pipe cleaners
    • To make it more meaningful, let the child pick out a bead craft to make
    • To add more challenge, ask the child to follow a specific pattern
  • Tearing paper
    • Tearing paper with two hands requires pinching with both hands. Torn paper can be used in a lot of craft projects and other activities
    • Paper salad
      • Tear green paper into small pieces
      • Add other small objects such as buttons, pom poms, straw pieces (that the child can also cut), etc.
      • Have the child “toss” the salad using both hands
      • “Serve” the salad using tongs
  • Putty and Playdough
    • Roll putty into small balls using thumb and fingers
    • Squish putty between thumb and fingers
    • Pull objects such as beads, chips, buttons, etc. out of the putty
  • Bubble wrap
    • Pop it using thumb and first finger
    • Use different size bubble wrap to make it more or less challenging
  • Button box
    • Cut slits in the top of a cardboard box (like a shoe box)
    • Orient the slits in different directions.
    • Have kids pinch and drop small buttons through the slits
  • Ice cube painting
    • Freeze colored ice cubes using food coloring
    • Put a piece of tin foil over the ice cube tray and stick a popsicle stick into each hole
    • Pinch the stick to move the ice around to paint on paper
  • Color with broken crayons
    • Broken or small crayons force a pinch grip (because there is really no other way to hold them)
    • Try coloring over different textures to work on pressure modulation at the same time
  • Nuts and bolts
    • Using different size nuts and bolts, have the child screw them together.