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Here, you’ll fid a zippering activity that can be used for how to teach a child to zip their coat. Teach kids how to use a zipper doesn’t need to be complicated. It can be a complicated functional skill for kids and process. Managing two hands together at the belly level, using one hand to hold down the zipper chamber AND the zipper pull AND the end of the zipper…all while the OTHER hand is holding the end of the zipper and trying to thread it into the chamber…it’s a motor planning process that requires a few essential skills to say the least.
How to teach a child to zip their coat
The simple act of zippering a coat requires: bilateral coordination, finger isolation, open thumb web space, separation of the two sides of the hand (on BOTH hands), motor planning, pinch strength, eye-hand coordination, pincer grasp, and tripod grasp (most often of the non-dominant hand). Whew! It’s no wonder that teaching kids how to zipper can be such a complicated orchestration of fine motor skills!
I have a few zipper activities coming your way, and first up is this bread tie zippering activity. It’s a fun way to work on they physical skills needed for managing a zipper, using items you probably have in the house.
Teaching Zipper Skills
When it comes to teaching zipper skills, there are several skills kids need to develop in order to manage a zipper.
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There are some nice quality zipper tools out there that will help your child learn how to zipper clothing. Some of the best products are ones that encourage a child to become independent while practicing the skills needed to learn how to use a zipper and fasten clothing. Looking for manufactured zipper tools? Try a zipper board, a clothing fastener vest, or a fun cargo vest with zippers for creative play and zipper practice.
Here are all of those skill areas needed for managing a zipper. Click on each link for creative activities to build these skills:
And, that’s all you need to practice zippering in a fun way.
I mean, “tools”. Really, the kids will get a kick out of this and practice the motor skills needed to pinch a zipper, hold down the end of the zipper, and the really tough part of the process: separating the tow sides of the hand holding the zipper chamber. And, recycling those plastic bread ties makes trash into a treasured moment when a kiddo can shout, “I did it!” then next time they zipper their jacket.
This simple ribbon activity uses plastic bread ties. First, knot both ends of a wide ribbon. Pinch the ribbon and slide the bread ties onto the ribbon. That’s it; your zipper tool is done.
Next, we’re going to practice. To help kids learn to zipper (a real zipper), they need to hold the bottom of the zipper while the other side is engaged into the chamber. They need to hold the bottom of the zipper between the thumb and middle/ring fingers while pinching the chamber down with the thumb and pointer finger.
Use the ribbon to practice this skill by holding the ribbon down strait and taunt and pinching a bread tie between the thumb and pointer finger. We held the ribbon tightly in a couple of ways: You can pin the ribbon to your child’s shirt, or have them hold the end of the ribbon under their chin. The latter method allows them to look down while they are completing the coordinated movements, much like zippering requires.
Then, use the other hand to pull the zipper ties all the way up and all the way down the length of the ribbon.
You could (and should!), of course, practice zippering a coat during trips outside, and during non-busy/non-rushed periods of the day. However, this simple activity makes working on the individual parts of zippering a little more fun. Add this activity to typical zippering practice to work on those skills.
Colleen Beck, OTR/L has been an occupational therapist since 2000, working in school-based, hand therapy, outpatient peds, EI, and SNF. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. Read her story about going from an OT making $3/hour (after paying for kids’ childcare) to a full-time OT resource creator for millions of readers. Want to collaborate? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.