Skip to main content

5 Ideas for Toddlers that Love to Squeeze

I have mentioned before that Nora (2.5-years-old) is seeking activities that help to build her hand strength. She must unconsciously know that she will need all those muscles to be ready as she embarks on the sandpaper letters and eventually writing in the coming months.


This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you.

So, I have been making sure we have plenty of work available to her to help with this drive. I've identified two ways that she currently enjoys building hand strength -- squeezing and pinching.

These two are closely related (opening and closing of fingers) but slightly different. Squeezing is more of a whole hand motion where pinching is a much more refined (pincer) grip.

I'll highlight, pinching activities soon, but here are five ways that we have offered squeezing work to Nora.


Orange Juice

Not too long ago, I posted a video on Facebook of Nora making orange juice. It's one of those activities that she will return to over and over again because it has a built in reward. But, it does take a surprising amount of hand strength and persistence to get a drinkable amount of juice from the juicer.

Large Clips

Here, Nora squeezes open these larger chip clips and places them around the side of the tray. This has been a popular work for her. If you wanted to make this more difficult, you could add a color matching element. I have chosen just to isolate the squeezing motion for now.



Tongs

Another classic practical life work for toddlers is serving themselves a snack. Instead of scooping, try a small tong. Toddlers are very motivated to do practical, practical life so this speaks to them. Whenever, I get the chance to have her serve with tongs, I let her. Some of her favorites are salad, large chunks of fruit and green beans!

Spray Bottles

Here is another super practical work that really focuses on hand strength! Any sort of spraying -- we use ours for window washing -- really gets those hands moving. Spray bottles are also perfect for watering plants, or just playing with in the bath.

Water

There are so many great ways to transfer water by squeezing! I tend to stick with practical applications for toddlers -- we squeeze a rag for table or face washing. But, if you add an empty bowl, a toddler can transfer water using a sponge, rag or turkey baster.


As you can see, many of these ideas are truly practical ways that a toddler can get involved in their environment while still working on building that essential hand strength! When given the opportunity, I will always choose really real practical work for Nora. The little artificial transfer trays are cute and all, but they just don't speak to a toddler the way real work does.

Does your toddler love work involving squeezing? What have you done to fill this need? 

Comments

Popular Posts

The Ultimate Montessori Toy List -- Birth to Five -- UPDATED 2019

When you are interested in Montessori, it can be difficult to know exactly what types of products you should get for your home. Or which types of "Montessori" materials are really worth the price. There are no rules about types of products can use the name Montessori which can add to the confusion. Not to mention, every toy manufacturer slaps the word "educational" on the package for good measure!

2019 UPDATE: This post has been updated to include a variety of brands and new product finds! Just a reminder that no one child will be interested in all of this or needs all of this. These toys are just here to spark ideas and give you a feeling for some Montessori-friendly options available! 


So, with this post, I'm going to try to help with this confusion! Here's a list of Montessori-friendly toys and materials for babies, toddlers and preschoolers. 


First, let's clarify that there is no such thing as a "Montessori toy." Montessori never created to…

Which Open-Ended Toys are "Worth it?"

As a Montessori parent, I try to provide a mix of materials in our home to engage my kids! That work that will spark joy, concentration, and repetition. It's not always an easy task, as Maria Montessori said, "Life is mysterious...only the choice of life can choose the work that the child truly needs. Therefore, the teacher respects this mysterious process and knows to wait with faith." So, there does sometimes feel like there is a bit of trial and error when it comes to choosing materials that your children need. 

For us, the right balance is easier to find when I spend time deeply observing my children. Watching their interests, sitting on my hands if I have to, letting them struggle a little with things, and letting them get bored. And what I have personally found is that here at home, a combination of open ended materials and more structured work have been the right balance. Open ended toys wouldn't necessarily be found in a Montessori classroom, but they are perf…

A Montessori Approach to Purging Your Toys

Becoming a Montessori family has been life changing in so many ways, most obviously with the amount and type of materials we use in our home. Once you see why having so many toys is a problem, or when you make the decision to move towards Montessori, it can be completely overwhelming. But, taking a Montessori approach to purging your toys is possible! And, it doesn't exactly mean that you have to throw away everything you have and start over with only expensive wooden toys. It will mean taking a hard look at what you have and whether it really fits with Montessori.


One note, however, Montessori is at its core about following your child's own path and respecting your child as a whole person. So, if your child has a toy, lovey, book, or whatever that your child super loves or is super attached to, but it doesn't fit Montessori ideals, don't take it away. Follow your child, that is more Montessori than whether or not you own some specific consumer product. 
How to Purge You…