It can often be hard to find an activity that keep both their minds and hands occupied productively, but this is a great one for young toddlers to help fine tune finger muscles and hone fine motor skills. This easy coordination-building activity requires next to five minutes of preparation and will have your little one feeling like a hero as they rescue their favorite toys from a rubber band maze.
Always keep a close eye on your little one during this activity to protect their hands and face against stray rubber bands that might snap when pulled.
- Bread pan or small bowl
- 5 to 7 favorite toys
- Rubber bands (you can also use softer rubber bands to avoid any danger to your child)
- Gather your child’s favorite toys and place them inside a pan or bowl of your choice.
- Take some rubber bands and wrap them around the pan with a chose toy or toys inside. Depending on your child's level of dexterity, you can arrange the rubber bands in a row or overlapping. Make sure that they are separated far enough so that it is easy for your child to grip the rubber bands securely.
- Encourage pretend play by coming up with a story with your kids about what happened: "Oh no! Mr. Unicorn was captured! We have to save him!"
- Place the pan in front of your sitting child and watch those finger muscles get to work. This action of gripping the rubber bands and determining how to remove them will not only hone their hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills, but also encourage problem solving and the strengthening of their grasp.
- If you notice your child struggling, to avoid unnecessary frustration, remove some rubber bands to make it a bit easier and straight forward to complete the task. If your child is looking for more of a challenge, add more rubber bands or arrange them perpendicularly so they have to strategize how to remove them without hurting themselves.
- The sense of accomplishment they experience "rescuing" their toys is also hugely beneficial to promote motivational skills.
- For an added element, you can ask your little ones to "re-trap" their toys by placing the rubber bands around the pan themselves. This can support teamwork as you hold the pan together and strengthen their hands and arms as they stretch the rubber band over the toys.
Skill areas addressed:
- Gross motor skills
- Hand-eye coordination
- Visual perception skills
- Problem solving
Extensions & Adjustments:
- If you do not have a pan, you can also put the rubber bands directly around a stuffed animal or favorite toy for added challenge.
Author: Analisa Carrillo