5 Home Water Play Activities That Can Improve Your Toddler’s Fine Motor Skills

Summer is a great time to use household items to explore water. These activites provide a fun way to work on upper extremity strengthening, fine motor strengthening, gross motor strengthening, bilateral integration, cognitive functionioning, self-regulation, sensory processing, and much more. Below are some activity ideas to ensure your child has a fun and engaging summer. 

FISHING


  • Equipment needed:
    • Two containers- bowls, plastic containers, etc.
    • Small objects- coins, toy cars, marbles, ornaments, Legos, pom-poms, rocks, etc
    • Fishing Rod- spoons, forks, spatula, tongs, etc
  • Description:
    • Fill both containers with water. Place all small objects into one of the containers. Use utensils to “fish” them out and place into the second containers. This activity can be played many ways- sort objects by coin type or color, count while your sort, etc. It can be tailored to your child’s interest and needs.
  • Learning Reinforced:
    • This activity works on motor planning, manipulating utensils and items, sensory processing (water pressure and/or tactile defensiveness), fine motor coordination, and bilateral integration. (To work on gross motor, put bigger items into container and fish them out/transfer them to the second container with your feet)

WATER TRANSFERS

  • Equipment Needed:
    • One container-bowl, plastic container, etc. 
    • A platic liter soda/juice carton/water jug, etc
    • A plastic cup, empty ketchup bottle, turkey baster, funnel, sponge, watering can, mugs, pasta strainer etc. 
    • Tape to mark how high or low to fill up the plastic bottle.
    • Food coloring to make the water a different color
  • Description: Using any of the above listed cups, empty ketchup bottle, sponge, etc.
    • Transfer water from the bowl to the plastic bottle
    • Use multiple methods to see which works best
  • Learning Reinforced:
    • Bilateral integration, hand strengthening (squeezing bottles, squeezing sponge, water is heavy!), visual motor (filling bottle up to tape lines or top), and sensory processing. 

CAR WASH

  • Equipment Needed:
    • One container
    • One towel
    • Toothbrush or Sponge
    • Wash cloth
    • Small objects- toy cars, coins, marbles, Legos, magnets, plastic bottle caps
    • Soap/Shampoo/Bubbles
  • Description:
    • Fill container with water and soap.
    • Put in multiple small objects and toys.
    • Use toothbrush or sponge to clean all items
    • Put them on a towel to dry in the summer sun when done!
  • Learning Reinforced: Functional task of using a toothbrush/wash cloth/sponge, in hand manipuation, bilateral integration, fine motor strengthening (holding small toys with pincer grasp), and sensory processing. 

BUBBLE SNAKES

  • Equipment Needed:
    • Plastic bottle
    • Old sock (flannel or face cloth works)
    • Elastic band 
    • Soap
    • Plastic container (bowl, dish)
    • Scissors
  • Description:
    • Cut the plastic bottle in half
    • Place the old sock around the open end of the bottle
    • Dip the sock bottle into plastic container filled with water and dish soap
    • Blow on the mouth part of the bottle to make a bubble snake!

WATER PAINTING

  • Equipment Needed:
    • Colored construction paper (if not available, paint ouside on the blacktop or cement)
    • Plastic container bowl or cup
    • Paint brush (ice cubes, sponge, pipettes or cotton balls), and a towel.
  • Description:
    • Fill up a bowl or cup with water
    • Dip your paint brush, sponge or your fingers into the cup of water and start “painting” on your construction paper.
  • Learning Reinforced:
    • Fine motor strengthening, work in cognition and language – discuss the objects used for this activity, discuss the colors, ask them to paint specific shapes.

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