Clothes Pin Pinch Grasp Exercises | The OT Toolbox

Clothes Pin Pinch Grasp Exercises

If you've been here in the last month, you know that I'm doing a little blog series.  Ok, not so little.  It's been a pretty popular series about Occupational Therapy activities that can be done using free or almost free materials.  I'm so grateful for new readers that have stopped by looking for information, tips, and ideas.  These last few weeks have also made me realize how much I love my Occupational Therapy roots.  Oh yeah, I am a sucker for cute crafts and love sharing those too. But these developmental and informative OT posts have been just plain fun for me.  

I love sharing these ideas with you and could talk for days about how a recycled bottle cap could be used to work on a gazillion functional areas, specific human kinetics, and creative development of skills.  

But today, I'm going back to the early days of my OT career and sharing fun ways to work on a few different hand pinch grasps.  We're using wooden clothes pins for these activities...something you probably have in your house or could get for a dollar at the dollar store.  That's a pretty darn cheap way to work on grip and grasp!

(Affiliate links are included in this post.)

Fine motor pinch grips and exercises to work on them using clothes pins, from an Occupational Therapist.

Functional Pinch Grips of the Hands

Ok, the basics:  When you use your hand to do ...anything... you'll use one or more of these functional grips:

  • Lateral Pinch Grip (aka Key Pinch Grip)- The thumb opposes the lateral side of the pointer finger.  This grasp is used when holding and using a key.
                        A sub group of this type of pinch is the Lateral Prehension                              Grip- The thumb is flexed (bent) and it's pad opposes the                                lateral side of the tip of the pointer finger. This grip is used to hold an index card or paper, sometimes.

  • Three jaw Chuck Pinch Grip- The thumb is flexed (bent) and opposes the pads of the pointer finger and middle finger. Holding a small cap like a toothpaste lid uses this grip. This is the grip used in holding a pencil.
  • Tip to Tip Grip- The tip of the thumb touches the tip of the pointer finger.  The thumb and pointer finger form an circle (or open thumb web space). This grasp is also called a pincer grasp.  It is used to pick up small items like cereal or beads.  If very small items are picked up (like a needle), a Neat Pincer Grasp is being used.
  • Lateral Grip- Pinching an item between the pointer and middle fingers use this grip.  You would use this grip in holding a cigarette.  While this is not a functional grasp for kids (obviously), you might see kiddos fiddle with a pencil by holding it between two fingers.
So, how can you work on these grips in a fun way?  Try using something you probably have in your home: Wooden clothes pins.  These are a therapy treatment bag staple.  You can work on each of the pinch grasps above to improve strength, arch development, open web space, and dexterity using clothes pins. 

Fine motor pinch grips and exercises to work on them using clothes pins, from an Occupational Therapist.

Try some of these fun pinch activities and crafts using clothes pins:

Use the grips described above in the activities below.  Try using different grips while completing the tasks, to work on the grips or skill areas appropriate for your child.
  • Pinch clothes pins along a string.
  • Line the edges of an index card with clothes pins.  Try using the different pinches described above. 
  • Make clothes pins into superheros and pinch them onto strips of paper. 
  • Paint with Pom Poms (Fantastic Fun and Learning)
  • Write letters on each clothes pin and match them to letters written along the edge of a piece of paper like we did here to spell sight words.
  • Pinch clothes pins onto a ruler.
  • Use clothes pins to pinch and grab small items like crafting pom poms, small erasers, or crumbled up pieces of tissue paper.
  • Craft with rainbow clothes pins.
  • Paint wooden clothes pins different colors and clip them to matching paper scraps.
  • Create an outdoor scavenger hunt for letters like we did here.
  • Wrap clothes pins in colored string and match them to crafting pom poms.
  • Make a fun animal craft.  These bees were fun to make! So were these nativity figures.
  • Make a butterfly garland.
  • Create a tree using the clothes pins as the trunks, like in these Cherry Blossom trees.
Fine motor pinch grips and exercises to work on them using clothes pins, from an Occupational Therapist.