Shake, Rattle & Roll – Scrunch & Toss!

By: Anne McCoy, OT

The hand is amazing!  Our hands are used for so many purposes; they are extremely intricate and well-designed.   Each slight shift of hand position and muscle activity allows a completely new venture: catching a ball, rotating a coin, cutting paper, turning small pages in a book, popping a cap from pen, or playing a fine instrument.

The hand allows us to play, work, and take care of our daily needs such as eating, dressing and bathing.   The hand gathers information about our world through discerning shape, weight, texture and temperature.   It can even allow us to recognize an object without even seeing it!    The hand also allows us to show care and concern and engage socially with others such as when we shake or hold hands.

They are so practical, so functional, so handy!

I would like to suggest a simple activity, “Scrunch N’ Toss,” that you can use to help your child’s hand development.    I particularly like this activity because it uses so many hand muscles and addresses other developmental issues such as body-in-space awareness, eye-hand coordination and the use of both hands together or separately.

Have your child scrunch up some newspaper squares…about 6”x 6”, while emphasizing that they should squeeze and scrunch the paper into small, tight balls.    The hand muscles work the hardest during the scrunching part!   Have them use just one hand half of the time.

Throw the newspaper balls into a variety of targets: a hula hoop, a wastepaper basket, a dishpan, a coffee can, a jump-rope coil or an inner tube for example.  For variation, try squeezing smaller or larger pieces of paper or foil.  You will be surprised at the difference in resistance various pieces of paper provide.

Remember: With each scrunch and with each squeeze you will be strengthening a whole bunch of positions and muscles of the hand. Have fun!

Want to see more fun activities you can do with your little one? Check out the video below!


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