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Play - Motor
Picking things up, putting things down  Like this activity  
15 - 30 mins activity Suitable for Birth - 5 years

Location Bathroom

When children use tools to pick things up they are building muscle strength and developing coordination. One way to do this is to give your child plastic tweezers to pick up items and transfer them from bowl to bowl. You could use coloured pom-poms, beans, pasta, shapes, gumnuts or cotton balls.  Helping to serve up food with kitchen tongs is another way to develop hand control.

Materials you will need

  • Plastic tweezers
  • Straws
  • Bowls
  • Cotton balls
  • Dried beans
  • Felt pom-poms

Alternative tools

  • Tea bag squeezer
  • Small tongs
  • Chopsticks

Why does this matter?

Having good fine motor skills and eye-hand coordination helps children when they are writing and drawing.

What does this lead to?

Using tweezers supports the development of muscle strength in the hand and fingers which enables children to hold a pen for an extended period of time.

Language and Questions to use

  • Tweezers, tongs, bowls
  • Cotton balls, beans, gumnuts, pom-poms, pasta shapes
  • Heavy, light, more, less, empty, full, big, small,
  • Pick up, move, pinch, lift
  • Can you pick up the small round ball?
  • Can you pick up more than one thing at the same time?
  • Can you pick up a green object first and then a red one?

Useful Tips

  1. For safety information see Safety for children 0-4 years or visit www.parenting.sa.gov.au.
  2. If you don't have tweezers you can use tea bag squeezers or tongs.
  3. Remember to talk to your child in your home language.

More ideas

  1. Your child could use tongs to pick up food at meal times.
  2. Tongs are great for playing in sand and water.

Variation by age

Birth to two year olds

  • Make up a box with soft and hard items for your child to try and pick up. Start with some kitchen tongs, then progress to smaller tongs and then to tweezers.

Questions to use

  • Can you pick up the small round ball?
  • Can you pick up more than one thing at the same time?
  • Can you pick up a green object first and then a red one?

Three to five year olds

  • Try teaching your child to use chopsticks to eat food. You could try it with beans or noodles.
  • Count how many objects you can move from bowl to bowl before you drop one.

Questions to use

  • Can you pick up all the beans with your chopsticks?
  • Show me how you can serve the salad using the tongs.
  • Can you pick up the small round ball?
  • Can you pick up more than one thing at the same time?
  • Can you pick up a green object first and then a red one?

Picking things up, putting things down

Skills this activity improves

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