Stringing beads, lace up cards, even picking up cereal – these are all wonderful ways to help your child develop fine motor skills and strengthen hand muscles.  In turn, these skills will aid your child in learning to write and even cut with scissors.  Providing ample opportunities for your child to practice is important during the Toddler Years.

  1. Necklaces!  Give your child a piece of yarn (tape the end to keep it from fraying) or a shoelace and let him or her create some fun and festive jewelry.  Children can string a variety of pasta (and it can be colored as well – simply mix 1/4 c rubbing alcohol or vinegar with food coloring in a baggie, add pasta to be dyed, shake and let dry on wax paper!) to create patterns and designs.  Or provide them with other household items to string: keychains, old keys, large buttons, big beads, and even construction paper “donuts” (circles with a hole punch in the middle) are great for stringing as well.  For coordinating bracelets, use chenille stems or pipe cleaners to string items.  Twist around wrist to fasten.
  2. Lace up cards.  Several companies provide lace up cards to work on the ‘in and out’ motion of simple sewing.  You can also create your own.  Mount a picture from a magazine on a piece of sturdy paperboard, posterboard or even cardboard.  Once dry, punch holes around the outside.  Provide a shoelace for “sewing” and let the fun begin!  Younger children may need a knot in one end of the lace to keep from pulling it through.
  3. Starburst.  Take a paper plate, punch holes around the outside edge, and give your child a piece of string.  Lace around and across the plate, creating a multitude of patterns and designs.  For even more fun, punch a hole in the middle of the plate as well – can you make a sun?  A star?  What other shapes can you make?  Use different yarn colors as well for another design element.
  4. Snack time!  Give your child an activity to do during snack time.  Give him or her a bowl of their favorite snack for lacing, such as pretzels and/or cereals – anything with a hole in it.  Using a piece of string or dental floss, let your child create an edible necklace.  Or, use it as a way of sharing snacks with nature – create a garland to hang in a tree for the birds!