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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.


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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? 

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