What Is The Pincer Grasp? 3 Games for Strengthening It

When I was a kindergarten teacher, I felt bad for youngsters who struggled needlessly with weak pincer grasps. A strong pincer grasp lets children pick up small objects between their thumbs and index fingers with ease and confidence. It's used constantly as kids write their names, color pictures, paint at the easel, string beads, complete puzzles, cut with scissors, count coins, and play card games. Most children develop their pincer grasp well before starting school -- between the ages of 9-12 months. But, with the increase in screen time among preschoolers, teachers have seen more and more youngsters entering kindergarten with weak finger and hand muscles and poor pincer grasps. While a poor pincer grasp was once seen only among youngsters with developmental delays such as autism, it's now found in other children as well. 

These three classic games for preschoolers are ideal for promoting the pincer grasp in a fun and lighthearted way. Best of all, they're age-appropriate -- easy to set-up with simple directions and no reading required.

1. Don't Break the Ice

You may remember this game from your childhood. It's created for kids 3-6 years-old and 2-4 players. Children use their pincer grasp to hold the mallet and softly tap ice cubes, trying not to let the polar bear fall. If he does, you lose! This simple game teaches some big lessons about the value of being patient, planning a strategy, and having a gentle touch.

2. Don't Spill the Beans

This is another fun and suspenseful game that has stood the test of time. It's made for children 3 and older and 2-4 players. The kids use their pincer grasp to gingerly place beans on the pot, trying to keep it from tipping over and spilling. The first one to get rid of all his beans wins the game. Like Don't Break the Ice, this game is brilliant in its utter simplicity and perfect for preschoolers. It teaches them about balance, planning, and placement.

3. Pop-Up Pirate

The third and final game is another one that builds excitement and suspense and creates lots of laughs. It's designed for kids 4 and up and 2-4 players. Kids use their pincer grasp to pick up little plastic swords and  place them into slots in the barrel. One random sword will make the pirate suddenly pop up from the barrel, and that player loses. 

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