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!
In-hand manipulation activities are a great way to boost fine motor skills needed for tasks like managing clothing fasteners, using a pencil when writing, manipulating items like coins or beads, and more.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.