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40 Fun Pincer Grasp Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers

Pincer grasp activities help your child strengthen their small muscles in preparation for future hand writing. This article gives you 40 fun, Montessori aligned, pincer grasp activities.

Why is this type of grasp important?

Some children are naturally drawn to…well, drawing. (Drawing is one of the most basic pincer grasp activities.)

These kids will likely have little trouble getting their final pencil grasp down pat in time for the school years.

But, there are many children that either don't have the interest, or don't have the confidence to attempt a pencil grasp.

This may be due to not having practice with fine motor skills and/or lack of small and large muscle strength in their dominant hand.

Hand strengthening and pincer grasp refinement is built into most early Montessori activities. That's part of the beauty of Maria Montessori's Method.

But, you don't need any Montessori materials to set up some great pincer grasp activities for your toddler or preschooler.

Animal Transfer Activity with Tongs
Transferring miniature animals with tongs

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What is a pincer grasp?

Before we get to the activities, let's talk a little about what the pincer grasp is.

The pincer grasp is the third type of grasp you will notice in the infant period, occurring around 8-10 months.

This is the age when babies become able to pick up small bits of food between their index finger and thumb to more effectively feed themselves.

This is a huge milestone – and a huge stepping stone.

Not only is the pincer grasp important for eating and playing, it is also the first fine-motor building block needed for writing.

There's no need to provide a child with tedious activities to get their muscles strong enough for a pincer grasp.

Fun activities and games, like the ones listed below will do the trick.

So, let's get to it!

40 fun pincer grasp activities for toddlers and preschoolers

Knobbed Puzzles

Large knobs for the toddlers. Small knobs for the preschoolers.

New Sky Enterprises Montessori Knobbed…
  • Montessori Geography Puzzle Sensory Material
  • Big Knobbed Geoboard,Montessori Geography Puzzle
  • Wooden Material With Base,and different color,shape,size

PlushCraft Purr-FECT Pillow. 

I actually purchased this not realizing that it is the perfect pre-writing craft activity. I just looked like so much fun.

ORB Kitten Plushcraft Pillow, One Size…
  • Creates a cozy kitten-shaped pillow
  • Fabric by numbers
  • No sewing required
Child pushing pieces of fabric into Cat Pillow Plush Craft Kit using her pincer grasp.
4 year old using stylus to push pieces of fabric into Cat Pillow Plush Craft Kit.

Button Sorting

Your child can do this activity using their hands, but a set of tweezers really works those fine motor skills.

Here is a link on how to present an easy DIY button sorting activity!

Color mixing 

You can help your child's pincer grasp by having them use an eye-dropper to color the water with food coloring.

This can be a basic lesson on colors for a young toddler and a lesson on primary and secondary colors for a preschool-aged child.

Clothespin activities 

Paint several clothespins fun colors. Have them clip the clothespins on the side of a bowl.

You can present it as a sorting game or a pattern activity.

After your child gets the knack of it (and the hand strength), set up a little clothesline outside or in your house where your child can hang a few items to dry.

There is nothing kids enjoy more than feeling like a working cog in the family machine.

Threading leaves

This activity doesn't have to be reserved for Fall. You can thread leaves throughout the year. What a wonderful lesson in the changing of the seasons.

Child performing leaf threading pincer grasp activity.
3 year old threading leaves using a twig as a needle and twine for thread.

Lacing cards

Lacing cards are great for working on fine motor skills while you're traveling, at a restaurant, or in the waiting room at a doctor's office.

Sale
eeBoo Shapes & Patterns Lacing Cards/Set…
  • Skills: Strengthens fine motor skills, boosts creativity and…
  • Age: 5+.
  • Includes 5 large, shaped lacing cards and five 48″ color laces.

Pushing pom-poms into a water bottles

This is a fun and budget-friendly fine motor activity. It's great for kids in various play schemas, as well.

Sticking pipe cleaners through colander holes

This can be done with either pipe cleaners or uncooked spaghetti. Just turn the colander over and place a pile of pipe cleaners next to it.

You're little one will figure out what to do.

Transferring marbles with tongs

 For this activity, you just need some marbles, a set of tongs, and a Duplo block base turned upside down. It's challenging and fun.

Transferring marbles witth tongs. Pincer grasp activity.
A bowl of marbles, a Duplo block base, and plastic tongs.

Cutting with scissors

You can simply give your child a paper and some child-friendly scissors and let them get creative or you can draw lines or designs on the paper for more of a challenge.

Painting

Any process art activity that involves painting will be beneficial to encouraging the strength needed for a pincer grasp.

Coloring

Just as with painting, process art is the way to go here.

Juicing

This is a favorite of my daughter's. She can make her very own fresh squeezed orange juice from start to finish.

Juicing activity. This helps strengthen the muscles used in the pincer grasp.
Oranges, a hand juicer, a small pitcher, and a small glass.

All you need is a cutting board, a hand juicer, some oranges (Clementines are easier for the younger kids.), a child-size pitcher, and a small glass.

Simple Hand Juicer – Plastic Lemon Press…
  • This citrus reamer plastic is suitable for small and big orange,…
  • This hand held lemon reamer provides a secure grip allowing you…
  • The citrus hand press is perfect for fresh-squeezed orange juice….

Bubble wrap 

Instead of tossing it or discouraging your kids from playing with it, let them at it.

Scotch Cushion Wrap, 16 in x 15 ft., 1…
  • Provides ideal cushion protection for delicate items during…
  • Lightweight, neat, clean, non-scratching and recyclable
  • 16 in. x 15 ft. roll

Cooking activities

Anything that requires whisking, chopping, or mixing gets those hand muscles stronger.

Child-size cooking utensils are preferable for these activities.

Learning Chopsticks

These are great for eating, as well as planned pincer grasp activities like transferring.

5 Pairs Reusable Chopstick Helpers Non…
  • What you will get: for this package you will receive 5 pairs…
  • Reliable polymer material: our chopstick helpers are made of…
  • Junior chopsticks: with this chopstick trainer, you can easily…

Window washing 

A spray bottle and a squeegee will help strengthen those small muscles used for the pincer grasp. This a classic Practical Life Activity.

Playing with Play-Doh

Play-Doh provides a nice sensory experience for children and it's a great pincer grasp activity.

Play-Doh Modeling Compound 10-Pack Case…
  • 10 cans of creative fun – kids can get creative with just the…
  • Just the right colors to start – shape, squish, mix, and make it…
  • Shape your imagination – squishy, bright, non-toxic Play-Doh…

Opening and closing tops to bottles and jars

Your child might have more fun with his than you expect. You can give them a series of lids and containers to match.

Tweezers, buttons, and a tray of colored compartments.
Button Sorting activity. Tweezers, buttons, and a tray of colored compartments.

Transferring uncooked rice from one bowl to another using fingers or spoon

This can be done in a sensory bin or in bowls.

Operation (Hasbro)

This is a classic game that encourages a child's hand muscles.

Sale
Hasbro Gaming Classic Operation Game
  • Ages: 6 Years & up Requires 2 1.5V”AA” alkaline batteries (demo…
  • Adult assembly required
  • Use the tweezers to remove Cavity Sam's ailments

Etch A Sketch

Etch A Sketches are great for encouraging creativity, as well as hand strength.

Etch A Sketch – Classic – Red
  • MAGIC SCREEN: It’s fun and easy to create with Etch A Sketch…
  • SHAKE TO ERASE: When you’re finished a drawing and ready to…
  • CLASSIC DRAWING TOY: For over 60 years, children and adults of…

Lite-Brite

The tiny pegs of the Lite Brite are challenging to grasp and great for building finger strength.

Sale
Lite Brite Classic, Favorite Retro Toy -…
  • 206 Classic Pegs: This set includes 206 glowing pegs in 6…
  • 6 Design Templates: There are 6 easy-to-follow templates…
  • 4 Different Light Modes: There are 4 different light modes that…

Sticker books

Peeling stickers is great for the muscles involved in the pincer grasp.

Melissa & Doug Reusable Sticker Pad:…
  • Add the pleasure of sticker play to your child's favorite themes
  • 5 scenes, 150+ reusable stickers
  • Measures 14″ x 11″

Pick Up Sticks (Game)

This is a fun game that involves concentration, control of movement, and fine motor skills.

Pressman Giant Pick Up Sticks – Classic…
  • Fun, classic addition for your game collection
  • Try to move and collect the colorful sticks carefully to win
  • Easy to learn, quick to play
Pipe cleaners and buttons.
Threading pipe-cleaners through button holes. Pipe cleaners cut in half and buttons.

Drawing with sidewalk chalk

Sale
Crayola 24-Count Sidewalk Chalk
  • Outdoor chalk tools for boys and girls ages four and up; Great…
  • Washable: perfect for driveway art and outdoor designs; Safe use…
  • Strong chalk sticks that don't break or roll down the driveway;…

Pouring activities

Pouring often gets overlooked when it comes to building hand strength. Children really enjoy pouring activities, though – take advantage of this.

Even just pouring water from cup to cup is fun.

Transferring miniature animals with tongs

Transfer small animal figurines from bowl to bowl.

Terra by Battat – 60 Pcs Wild…
  • Go Wild: 12 different miniature wild animals; 60 fun animal toys…
  • Fun Sized: Small figurines with bold colors and accurate details!
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Threading pipe-cleaners through button holes 

I actually can't take credit for this one. I found that my 4 year old had threaded some pipe-cleaners through several buttons and left them on the kitchen table.

I thought I'd pass the activity onto you.

Matching locks and keys

Lock and key activities are great for the pincer grasp muscles.

MIKNEKE Montessori Lock and Key Toy Set…
  • Hands-on Learning: Children’s Potential for Learning Can be…
  • Fine Motors Skills: Helping Children Develop Coordination, Visual…
  • Practical Life Skills: Helping Kids Learn Use Keys to Lock and…

Gardening activities

Your child will need to use a pincer grasp to pick up and plant the seeds and using gardening tools is sure to strengthen their hands.

Small gardening tools are recommended for this.

You can start with a simple plant care activity and then move onto something more challenging like planting a butterfly garden.

Peeling carrots

Peeling carrots or potatoes is both fun and great for pincer grasp muscles.

Child-size tongs, miniature animals, and 2 bowls
Transferring miniature animals with tongs. Child-size tongs, miniature animals, and 2 bowls.

Tying knots

Tying knots is sometimes too challenging for young children, but if you find that your preschooler is interested, learning simple knots is great for the small muscles of the hand.

Knots for Kids
  • Tilton, Buck (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 136 Pages – 06/01/2022 (Publication Date) – Falcon Guides…

Peeling tape from tray/floor/sidewalk

All you need for this pincer grasp strengthening activity is some painters tape. It can be done inside our outside.

ScotchBlue Sharp Lines Multi-Surface…
  • Use-On Surfaces: Designed For Use On Multiple Surfaces Such As…
  • PAINT LINES: Edge-Lock Technology seals out paint to deliver…
  • Days Clean Removal: 21-Day Interior And Exterior Clean Removal…

Making Oobleck

This is a really fun fine motor sensory activity for when you're in the mood to get messy.

Flower arranging

Grab a glass, vase, or jar and collect some real or fake flowers. This activity has so many benefits.

Spooning Beans from bowl to bowl

Most folks already have spoons, fried beans, and bowls at home. This is an easy activity to set up.

Paper Tearing activities

If your child is a sensory-seeker, this might be the perfect pincer grasp strengthening activity.

Sensory table play

Almost every activity done at sensory tables or light tables involves fine motor skills.


In addition to these activities, Montessori play schema activities and loose part play all involve fine motor elements.

And of course, turn off the TV and tuck away the tablets. Time spent in front of a screen is time lost for refining fine motor skills!

I personally endorse every activity in this article. My daughter was quite resistant to the idea of writing. Getting her pincer grasp strong made all the difference.

Cheers and don't forget to subscribe!

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