Solutions For Parents

Children's Play and Activities

Fine Motor Exercise

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Turben’s Stepping Stones


Puts toy in container, sometimes releases it 

  1. encourage child to release object into a container – object when dropped should make a pleasing sound
  2. use - clothespins in cup

             spoon in dish
             buttons in bag
             powder puffs in bag
             beads or blocks in cans

Takes toy off surface deliberately to play with it

  1. place toys on smooth surface at some distance from child- tie strings on toys.
  2. Place objects on a table which is standing height of child
  3. Help child “go fetch” toys when in cruising or standing position
  4.  Tape feathers or tissue to walls

Uncovers hidden objects most of the time

  1. place toy under pie tins, containers, cloth
  2. Play Jack-in-Box game
  3. play hide & seek with various pieces of child’s clothing – letting child find pieces quickly an nearby

Pokes with index finger – uses neat pincer grasp

  1. provide child with ash register, push button toys and toys with holes, i.e. sieves, strainers, threading toy etc.
  2.  play body parts game “point to your nose”
  3. play anticipation games like Bumble Bee Buzz
  4. give child clear bottle and candy or cheerio, tell child to put candy into bottle

Attempts to place one toy after another in sequence

  1. encourage child to pick up hand-size cubes & objects of various shapes from flat surface – and line them up in a row or put them in a cup.
  2. Give child plastic stack rings or nesting boxes and encourage him to put them into or on top of one another
  3. start child off with only 2 rings to stack or 2 boxes
  4. give child form board with circle, square, triangle forms cut out of it

Explores small objects in a container, using only hand, not arm-plucks toy promptly

  1. place small objects such as clothespins, rings, beads in small container and offer child muffin tin or other open top container in which to transfer objects
  2. hold containers up at child’s eye level to encourage hand only action

Holds objects with both hands when standing or sitting

  1. have child hold heavier and finer objects-cover pieces of brick with cotton batten, pocketbook filled so it is heavy
  2.  have child imitate your behavior while holding an object i.e. ball in both hands-have child in sitting position then change to standing-ball overhead, down at feet, out to side, etc.-out in front-Simon says

Places toy in hand, if your hand held out for it

  1. encourage child to give up object to adult by playing passing games-put toy airplane in dish and zoom it all around in the air, away from child then quickly back to him, so he feels he hasn’t lost it forever. This will help him release toys with more confidence and feeling of security


Will retrieve hidden toy at some distance

  1. hide objects under pie tin or cans or blankets
  2. play “hide & seek” with child
  3. hide objects under more than one surface-i.e. cup under box-box under blanket-child will uncover first layer, but needs help to uncover the second
  4. roll back under cul-de-sac or chairs set up like a barrier-tell child “go fetch the ball”

Vigorously imitates scribble

  1. draw a line across top of paper, hand crayon to child

Holds two small objects in one hand

  1. give child the support of holding your hand while he walks with two objects in the other-then reverse sides
  2. play the shell game with child, hiding one small object under one of three cans
  3. attach clothespins to rims of jars and cans and encourage child to remove these

Takes off pants, shoes, socks with no help

  1. string clothesline between two chairs and hang clothes with pins on line with child when he has removed them
  2.  Place clothes in separate bins so child can sort and categorize

Uses simple household items appropriately

  1. give child some small gadgets, pots with lids, hand egg beater, fishing reel without the line or rod, food mill, whisk broom, dust pan and encourage child to imitate what you do
  2. play “open shut them with door knobs, drawer pulls, locks and fasteners

Fits objects inside of one another according to size

  1. provide child with stack rings of various sizes or various sized tin cans and graduated cups, no more than three
  2. Make cardboard slot puzzles with circles-square for child to work with-cut shapes out of foil paper or phosphorous paper

Aligns two cubes in row for train-builds tower of 2 cubes

  1. help child to start alignment at left of child’s body, work left to right
  2. give child blocks and cubes of different sizes

Points to parts of body

  1. give child large puzzle of body and have him put pieces together
  2. play body parts game
  3. play bumble bee buzz
  4. use flashlight as extension of child’s arm to give him added stimulus to point
  5. draw silhouette of child’s body, cut it out

Turns pages of book, several at a time

  1. give child a “realistic” book, or magazine and read to him-stopping at the end of each page, waiting for child to turn pages o book, then read some more
  2.  use books of different sizes

Strokes crayon imitatively in air

  1. play “mirror image game” let child imitate
  2. make patterns on wall with flashlight – let child imitate

Eats with a spoon, spills

  1. give child spoon and you use one too
  2. use lab bib and encourage him to pick up spoon with alternating hands
  3. give child different size spoons to handle

Builds tower of three cubes

  1. give child blocks to stack and count for child to simulate the ordering and stacking
  2. use egg carton and small cubes to get child to order things

Scribbles on paper spontaneously

  1. give child paper and magic marker or artist’s pencil-thicker than regular
  2. wet paper and give child chalk to scribble with at table
  3. stay with child during this activity and encourage self-control
  4. put paper on floor and let child scribble with toes too

Uses cup, puts down when finished

  1. use sturdy cup with a small amount in it
  2. use cups with lids or suction cups
  3. offer praise and don’t rush child

Builds tower of 4-5blocks

  1. praise child when he stacks 2-3 then say make the tower taller” – add more blocks”
  2. change size and shape of blocks

Threads and strings objects

  1. give child string and large beads to thread
  2. use sieve and yarn, with tape at end to make a tip
  3.  use shoelaces and paper plate with hole in plate

Holds spoon right side up, does not spill

Turns pages of book singly

  1.  hold spoon out to child, so he grabs it right side up


  1.  give child magazine with bright pictures
  2. wait for child to show you he is ready to turn to next page

Empties and pours objects in and out of containers using both hands

  1. give child containers, filled with warm and cold water, help child to mix and pour them add food coloring for interest, bits of grain, etc.
  2. set out objects that make various noises for dumping – macaroni, pieces of sponges, large beads, plastic bracelets etc.


Begins to dress self, fusses with zippers and buttons

  1. encourage child to dress himself in front of a mirror
  2. encourage up and down motion with sound effects to enhance manipulation of zippers or buttons

Screws and unscrews jars and lids

  1. give child a variety of plastic containers with lids of various sizes
  2. give child large jars and lids to screw and unscrew

Holds crayon in fist

  1. encourage child to draw on large pieces of brown wrapping paper stretched on floor, table or wall


Snips with scissors

  1.  have child grip scissors first and have child practice “open-shut them” then insert paper between prongs in vertical plane-in air- help child close


Makes strokes to imitate a straight line

  1. draw straight line on paper and give child opportunity to coy
  2. have child use sponge to wipe table –have him imitate the direction you use to wipe up with sponge
  3. put line of tape on paper-have child finger the tape then imitate with crayon


Buttons and unbuttons, puts on shoes

  1. As children learn to button, they try to push the button with their thumb
  2. give child old shoes, other peoples shoes to try on, to sort out

Builds tower of 7-8 blocks

  1. Give child a variety of materials to stack and build – blocks, bean bags, soap, washcloths, etc.


Does simple puzzles

  1. Provide child with large 3-4 piece puzzles of both slot and insert varieties


Can dress self

  1. Let child use a mirror
  2. lay out clothes for child
  3. choose clothes with elastic waist and wide necks, easy to pull on

Holds pencil with fingers, adult fashion

  1. Children need their own writing book to mess with


Can copy a circle, imitates a cross

  1. Provide child with paper and pencil and have him imitate your designs, use transparencies and tracing paper for variaton
  2. encourage child to finger paint and copy as well as with writing tool

Adds parts in sequence to make a total object

  1. Give child block, have him build train and then have him place block for chimney, etc.
  2. give child body puzzle (large floor size) to assemble
  3. Climbs stairs and count with child
  4. Use flannel board and sandpaper objects tat form a sequence (i.e. seed – seedling, bud, flower)

Builds bridge from ,model

  1. take pencil and draw, then let child build a like model

Paints with some design, colors with crayons

  1. encourage child to play with a mixture of raw materials – sand, water, clay, paste, mud, chalk
  2.  praise child for his efforts
  3. let child clean up himself and activity area

Draw simple figures

  1. start child with stick figure and fill in facial features

Folds paper to make a design

  1. give child paper of varying textures to fold an create foil paper, wrapping paper, wallpaper samples etc.
Ask Dr. Susan