Using the tongs to pick up cotton balls or small object helps reinforce functional grasp as the child holds the tongs in the same manner she would hold a writing tool or scissors. In addition, this activity works on visual perception as the child has to place the object through the opening.
In this activity, imagination and creativity are key components.
Begin by drawing the face of a child, a character (clown, robot, princess, etc.), or an animal that the child likes on the shoe box’s cover. Then, cut out the mouth of your figure so that it looks like the figure is opening its mouth. Make sure the opening is big enough so that the child is able to place the small objects through the opening.
Place the cotton balls (see additional ideas for objects below) on the table in front of the child or in a shallow bowl.
Give the tongs to the child and instruct her to hold it with her thumb, pointer, and middle fingers only, while tucking the pinkie and ring fingers into the palm of her hand. Then, ask the child to use the tongs to pick up one object at a time and feed the figure by placing the object into the figure’s open mouth.
This is where creativity comes into play as you can use the child’s imagination to decide what kind of food the cotton balls represent.
If you chose to draw an animal, you can have the cotton balls be the type of food this specific animal eats (i.e. monkey = bananas, dog = bones, bunny = carrots, etc.)
Based on the child’s developmental skills, you can have her draw the figure (can be a very simple figure) and cut the mouth opening independently.
Additional ideas for small objects (depending on the child’s age and abilities): pasta, beads (large and small), beans, cotton swabs, marbles, and Lego