In this activity, we create a marble maze to promote fine motor skills.
Start by gluing the straws on the cardboard. You will need to glue each straw on the opposite side as follows:
- Glue the 1st straw aligned to the left edge of the cardboard
- Glue next straw aligned to the right side of the cardboard
- Keep gluing straws all the way to the bottom of the cardboard
- Make sure to create a space for the marble to go through between the straws
- The end result should look like this:
Let the glue dry.
We used a gallon size zip lock bag but you can use a smaller zip lock bag to create a smaller maze.
At the bottom edge of the zip lock bag, cut a small slit. Make sure you cut it on the side the marble will come out from.
Once the glue is dry and the straws are secured, insert the cardboard into the ziplock bag.
Close the ziplock bag almost all the way, leaving a small opening for the marble to fit in.
Put the marble through the opening and start moving it with your finger through the maze until it comes out at the bottom.
You can alternate the fingers you use to move the marble or you can use both hands to hold the cardboard and move it from side to side, letting the marble slide out.
Hold all the straws or pipe-cleaners together in your palm or have the child hold them this way and let go of all of them at once.
Once they are spread, ask the child to pick up one straw at a time, without moving the other straws.
Take turns picking up the straws.
If you or the child moves other straws when picking up a straw, the game is over. The winner is the one who has the most straws.
Another version of the game could be to ask the child to pick up a certain color of straws:
Start by holding all the straws together and let all of them go at once. Once they are spread, ask the child to first pick up all the blue straws, then all the green straws, and so on (for this version of the game, it’s OK if the other straws are moving).
For young children or those with poor grasp, use wider straws.
Use a large, empty, and clean jar for this activity.
Provide the child with pipe cleaners and/or straws and instruct him to insert the items through the holes on the jar’s lid.
You can ask the child to sort the items by color or size before placing them in the jar.
If using a jar that has holes and a small opening on the lid, you can use additional items to place through the opening, such as pom-poms, buttons, large beads, coins, etc.
The child can use tongs or tweezers to catch the items before dropping them through the large opening.
If you cannot find a spice jar, you can use a regular container and poke holes in the lid, using a hole-puncher or cut holes with scissors.
You will need to use green construction paper (light and/or dark) and assorted small different textured objects (i.e. pom-poms, buttons, small blocks, etc.). You may also want to use different size and color straws.
First, explain to the child that you are going to make a salad. Let the child tear up the pieces of paper using both hands, to make lettuce leaves, and place the pieces in the bowl.
Then, have the child cut the straws into different size pieces and add them to the bowl. Ask the child to add the pom-poms, buttons, blocks, and think of creative things they can be (e.g. red pom-poms for cherry tomatoes, blocks as croutons). Have the child “toss” the salad by hand, allowing him to feel the different textures.
Use the tongs to “serve” the salad. To focus on social skills, ask the child to serve you/other peers/ themselves/co-treating therapists and say things like “more please!”, “no more, thank you”, etc.
Pretend the play-dough is the dough to make your cake.
To develop hand strength and increase joint compression have the child roll, and push flat with both hands or rolling pin.
Once the cake is established have the child push the candles/cut straws (of whatever size, length, and color desired) into the play-dough, and decorate as wanted (sprinkle sequins or rice for sprinkles).
After you sing and blow out the candles, have the child remove the straws. With the straws that have “cake” stuck in them, have the child use an unbent paper clip/pipe cleaner (depending on straw width) and poke it out from the other end. Sometimes you can get it out by pinching at it after pushing a little out.
If working on utensil manipulation, have the child cut up the cake with a plastic knife, serve to a group (for socialization), and fake eat with a plastic fork.