Fine Motor Spinning Tops | The OT Toolbox

Fine Motor Spinning Tops

These little DIY spinning tops were a big hit in our house.  These are a different way to work on a few fine motor skills needed for use in functional grasp patterns.  The best thing about these tops is the price.  It takes just a few pennies and some recycled bottle tops to make a set of spinning tops that can be tossed into a therapy bag or used in a home program.  Work on skills such as pincer grasp, in-hand manipulation, arch development, and eye-hand coordination just by spinning a top!

DIY tops for building fine motor skills.

Fine Motor Activity with Spinning Tops

These tops are very easy to make.  It does take a little planning.  You'll need a handful of recycled bottle caps to make a set of tops.  You can certainly make just one, but what fun is a spinning top battle with just a lone top?

If your family is like mine, you go through a couple of gallon sized containers in a short period of time.  Between milk, juice, iced tea, and water, it doesn't take long to round up a handful of bottle caps.

You'll need just a couple of items to make these tops:

Bottle caps
Sharp knife

First, clean the bottle caps with warm, soapy water.  Get the kids involved in this step; it's a great way to practice eye-hand coordination in a sensory medium with the soap and warm water.  Scrubbing with a brush allows kids to engage in heavy work (proprioceptive input).  Given that and the warm water will allow for a calming sensory activity that is purposeful.  Better yet, the kids can practice for washing dishes ;)

Next, use the sharp knife to press strait down into the lid of a bottle cap.  Firmly hold the bottle cap on a cutting board and press the knife strait down to make a slit in the lid.  This is a definite task for adults.

Be sure to make the slit only wide enough for a penny to fit into the slot.  

And that's it!  Your spinning tops are complete.

Neat pincer grasp with a DIY spinning top for addressing fine motor skills

Spinning tops build fine motor skills:

Tops are a common tool for improving fine motor skills.  When you spin a tip, you are challenging and building in-hand manipulation skills.  When spinning a top, a child is required to rotate the top between the pads of the thumb and pointer finger in order to make the top spin.  This is termed simple rotation and a skill that is needed for manipulating items with in the hand.  When a child writes with a pencil, they need to manipulation and use the pencil with one hand.  Read more about the different types of in-hand manipulation.

Make tops with recycled bottle caps and pennies.

These tops are a real fine motor power tool with the small flat surface that the penny provides for spinning.  This is a great way to encourage a neat pincer grasp and dexterity.

Spinning tops with bottle caps and pennies

How to use these tops to increase fine motor skills:

  • Spin several of the tops at once.  Try to keep all of the tops spinning.  When one starts to stop, spin it to catch up with the other tops.
  • Draw a square on a large piece of paper.  Try to keep the spinning tops inside the square.
  • Spin a top on a large platter.  Walk across the room without allowing the top to fall.
  • Challenge another child to a top spinning challenge.  Each child can spin 2-3 tops of a single color.  When a top stops spinning, that top is out.  The child with the last spinning top is the winner. 
One warning about these tops:  Be sure to use them under strict observation. Pennies are a choking hazard and these tops should be used only under supervision.

Spinning tops made with bottle caps for addressing in-hand manipulation

More in-hand manipulation activities that you will like: 

In-hand manipulation skills for functional tasks

In-hand manipulation play

In-hand manipulation with letter puzzles

In-hand manipulation and coins

Working on Handwriting?