Look Ma, Both Hands!

Fingers somehow manage to find their way back to kids' mouths, but these activities below can show children how fun having two free hands can be.

  • Blow bubbles!
    • You'll need one hand to hold the bottle and the other to hold the wand.
  • Blow a whistle!
    • No fingers in mouths, here!
  • Play with cymbals!
    • Look Ma, both hands!
  • Eat an edible necklace!*
    • Cheerios, fruit loops, marshmallows, the possibilities are endless!
  • Eat applesauce…with a straw!
    • Parent-sanctioned silliness.
  • Make handprints with paint!
    • When both hands are messy, they'll have a harder time getting fingers to the mouth. However, try this with edible finger paint first, just in case.
  • Jumping!
    • Pretty hard to keep your hands from doing anything but bouncing, too.
  • Playdough!
    • Both hands are usually needed to squish the dough down.
  • Stress balls!*
    • Fill a balloon with sand or playdough, tie it off, and you're ready to squish.
  • Carwash for your toy trucks!
    • In the wise words of storytime specialist Catherine's mother, "When all else fails, just add water."
  • Paper snowball fight!
    • Children will need both hands to crumple paper and throw.
  • Singing and fingerplay rhymes!*
    • Fingers will be too busy performing "Where Is Thumbkin" or "The Wheels On the Bus."
  • Buttoning clothes!
    • Even most adults have trouble doing this one-handed.
  • Pop bubble wrap!
    • One hand to hold the wrap, one hand to pop to their heart's content.
  • Hugs!
    • Bear hugs need both arms.
  • Practice using scissors!
    • Another skill that requires two hands.
  • Pull cotton balls apart or tear strips of paper!
    • Build fine motor skill and satisfy that destructive tendency we all have. Better yet, make art with the scraps afterward.
  • Play catch!
    • Most children need two hands to master this game.
  • String beads onto yarn, ribbon or pipe cleaners!
    • More fine motor movements that will build writing skills.
  • Hand clapping games!
    • Working together is so much better.
  • Sweep the floor!
    • Train those kids young (just kidding, kind of). If you think about it, though, it's a big stick that they're allowed to play with inside and they need two hands to use it.
  • Crawl on the floor!
    • Pretend to be different animals on a safari around the house.
  • Turn the pages of a book!*
    • Obviously the favorite activity of Arapahoe Libraries.
  • Wring water out of towels!
    • Let's see how strong those little hands are!
  • Paint fingernails!
    • Let them pick out the color (or multiple colors!) and explain that the polish needs time to dry.
  • Magnets on a metal cookie tray!*
    • Have an old cookie sheet? Have some refrigerator magnets? You're all set!
  • Stir cake batter!
    • It's hard to stir unless they're holding the bowl with the other hand.
  • Swing on a swing!
    • Hold on with both hands!
  • Gardening!
    • Dirt and mouths do not mix.
  • Bike Riding!
    • Steering requires both arms and pedaling requires mental focus and gross motor skills.
  • Wikki Stix!*
    • What can they make in just a few minutes with these portable building tools?
  • I Spy Bottles!*
    • Searching Pinterest will come up with a multitude of I Spy and Settle Me bottles. Your child will need two hands to shake them up and discover the possibilities.
  • Stickers!
    • Or their tamer cousins, window clings.*

*Car-appropriate activities

This is by no means an exhaustive list, however fun these activities are. What would you add to the list?

P.S. Searching for "bilateral coordination activities" (the occupational therapy term) will pull up even more ideas.

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