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October 2017: Grasping and Releasing

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Parents often ask us to suggest ways they can help their child strengthen or refine specific arm and hand movements.

Our next several blog posts will focus on different skills, with each post dedicated to a specific movement.

This month, we’ll discuss some ways you can help your child improve their grasping and releasing ability. These exercises can easily be incorporated into their daily routine or playtime activities.

Grasp and Release Activities:

  • Have your child focus on grasping art supplies – markers, crayons, paintbrushes, or glue – during art projcets..During this time, children can also work on using two hands to open containers, or use their affect hand to steady marker or crayon boxes while opening them.
  • Play a board game with your child. Ask your child to carry the game box using both of their hands. When setting it up, see how fast your child can take out the pieces from the box.
  • If you’re the parent of a young toddler or baby, have them practice taking toys out of a container. Be sure to use a variety of differently-shaped toys. Try metal mixing bowls that might make load sounds when you drop blocks into them to increase motivation.
  • During play, ask your child to focus on grasping various size objects like cubes, squishy balls, paper towel tubes, and blocks.
  • Have fun outside with wet or messy play. Ice cubes are always fun to play with on a hot day. Think about adding a cognitive dimension by sorting by size, color, shape or texture as you play.
  • Work on pinch patterns by asking your child to “hold hands” with an action figure and making him or her “walk” or jump across the table or floor.
  • Pick up cars or, for older children, marbles, and put them on a ramp and watch them slide. Marble mazes are a great toy to work on repeated pinching, grasping, and releasing. Make a marble maze by taping paper towel tubes together. Attach them to the wall with painters tape to help your child work on shoulder strengthening at the same time. If it is a challenge, have your child alternate using each hand.

If you have a topic or questions that you would like the Helping Hands blog to address, please email

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