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Pincer Grasp Activities for Preschoolers

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Inside: Pincer Grasp Activities are vitally important to the growth and development of children. These fine motor skills help children use a pencil correctly, tie their shoes, or buttoning their shirt, and are essential skills for brain development.

Pincer grasp activities are a fun way to practice preschoolers' fine motor skills. It helps them to learn how to hold objects like pencils when they're ready to start writing.

Activities that require pincer grasp are designed for toddlers and preschoolers, but can start as early as 9 months old.

We are going to talk about what the pincer grasp is, how you can help your child develop theirs, and fun activities you can try today!

Let's get started.

pincer grasp activities for preschoolers

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What is Pincer Grasp?

The pincer grasp is the development of coordination to hold something between the thumb and pointer finger, and is an important fine motor milestone in babies.

Normally, it develops between nine and twelve months, and continue to develop over their toddler and preschool years. This fine motor milestone is essential because it makes way for bigger skills like holding a pencil to write, picking up small items, and typing or clicking a mouse.

You can read more about the development of pincer grasp in babies here, but we are going to talk about toddlers and preschoolers.

Why is the Pincer Grasp Important for Preschoolers?

It's not just picking things up and putting them down, these small muscles are important for skills they'll learn later in life.

In their every day life, this fine motor skill is important for doing things like puzzles, putting food in their mouth, and pinching their mommy.

This is considered the first major fine motor skill for children, and it's truly the building block they need to work on.

Hands-On Activities to Promote Pincer Grasp

Although children are able to start using their pincer grasp starting as young as 9 months, it's still important to practice those skills during toddlerhood, preschool, and beyond.

Most activities with small objects will help their fine motor skills, and work on their pincer grasp muscles.

Here are a few of our favorite activities:

Eating cheerios or puffs
Stringing a noodle necklace
Squishing play doh
Scratching tape off cardboard
Pulling pipe cleaners through a colander

My best tip is to keep it simple and use objects you have around the house, and use it in ways that aren't super special or require a lot of prep.

I love using food to help build this muscle in babies, but as they get older they usually require more prep.

The great thing about fine motor skills is kids LOVE doing them. If you get out an activity and they don't love it, it's might be too difficult. Find a way to make it easier so they won't get frustrated, or help them through that frustration and succeed.

PIN for later:

fine motor skills for preschoolers

How Do You Teach Pincer Grasp?

This is one of those skills that is so engrained in our every day lives it won't take much to teach them. But also, it's a skill you're going to work on with them for years to come.

One thing I always remember with the pincer grasp is to focus on the fingers.

You want them to build up the muscles of their index finger and thumb. I think about that all the time when I am focusing on fine motor skills.

With babies you don't need to focus as much on this, but with toddlers and preschoolers it's a little more important to focus not just on using their two fingers, but using them precisely.

Lacing cards are a great way to work on those muscles, check out some of my lacing cards here:


Enjoying this post? You might also love The Benefits of Lacing Cards for Preschoolers


These are a great practice tool for fine motor skills!

Fine Motor Skills Activities for Toddlers

Toddlers are the perfect age for practicing fine motor and pincer grasp activities. One of my favorite ways to encourage their learning with play doh. Squishing it with your fingers is a great way to work on your hand muscles, and they LOVE creating with it. It's a no brainer!

Here is my gingerbread play dough recipe. It's perfect for pincer grip practice. Pinching play dough is a great fine motor skill activity.

Another activity toddlers love is playing with pasta. I have a post about dying noodles if you'd like to add these to a sensory bin for children to play with.

Try pulling pipe cleaners through a colander. My kids use big wooden beads too, to make it fun and beautiful. It's almost like a work of art when they're done playing with them.

Fine Motor Skills Activities for Preschoolers

Toddlers and preschoolers are pretty similar in what they enjoy, so feel free to grab some tips from the toddler section above, but here are more activities:

Cook those noodles! It gives a different texture to play with, and makes kids have to use a little more dexterity to get the noodles where they want them to go.

My preschoolers really got into puzzles around age 4, this is a great tool for working on their little hand muscles.

Geoboards are an amazing tool for fine motor skills. I have a fun autumn geoboard printable here.

Cootie catchers, chatterboxes, or as I called them in elementary school, fortune tellers, are another great way to work on multiple skills at once. Here is my feelings chatterbox.

There are a million useful ways your preschooler can use water to work on their fine motor skills.

Spray bottles can be used to spray plants, clean windows, or spray food coloring and water onto snow or a canva. Water guns are a silly and fun way to work on hand muscles, and of course bath toys. Turkey basters help children work on their hands too!

One of our favorite ways to use a turkey baster is using one to blow a cotton ball across the table. We race!

Start a collection of craft activities that require using bottles to squeeze―glue, glitter glue, puffy paint, fabric paint. Most of these are available, inexpensively, at dollar stores so you can go crazy and let them experiment with lots of different bottles to squeeze.

Find All the Fine Motor Skills Printables You Need in My Shop

Interested in more fun printables? Check out my shop, where you can find SO much more than what I offered here! Thank you for supporting my family. To access the shop, click the image below!

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