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.
This is such a great fine motor activity. We have a big cup of change that needs rolled every once in a while. I had the kids help me one day, and we really worked on those fine motor skills!
We dumped the whole cup out onto the table and worked on picking up just the quarters.
This was perfect for Big Sister, who is learning to identify coins.
(My nephew was over for the day and had fun putting the coins into the slot on a plastic bank…also awesome for fine motor work!)
When working as an OT with kids, a big suggestion to parents for at-home fine motor programs was to manipulate coins. The dexterity that is worked on when picking up coins from a flat surface is huge! You need to pick up the edges with a tip-to-tip grasp and perform in-hand manipulation to “squirrel away” the coin into the palm of the hand. In-hand manipulation is moving an object within the hand, without help from the other hand.
Stacking coins is another great exercise. We put the quarters into piles and counted out dollars. But at the same time, we were working on translation of the coin from the palm of the hand to the tips of the fingers. Translation is a type of in-hand manipulation that you use when moving an object from the finger tips to the palm and vice versa. Stacking requires a lot of controlled dexterity!
We ended up putting the rest of the coins back into the cup for another day. Picking up the pennies/nickles/dimes and squirreling them into the palm of the hand and then dropping them into the cup further worked on fine motor manipulation. And we counted them as they dropped into the cup, too.
Why are these skills important? Kids need to refine their fine motor skills and in-hand manipulation in order to manipulate the pencil with slight movements while writing, erasing, and coloring. They need the small motor control to manage fasteners like zippers, snaps, buttons, and shoe ties.
A lot of learning happened with a little coin play!
Be sure to wash hands after manipulating coins! And as always, keep a close eye on your child when coins are part of fine motor play to ensure safety.