The very first Learning Resources product I purchased as a parent many years ago was the Helping Hands Fine Motor Tool Set™. And 5 years after purchasing it, the tools are still used by both my kids on a regular basis. I often get asked which of the tools is best and why, so I thought I’d share a little explanation of how we use each of the fine motor tools and how they help with developing skills for children of different ages. To help you see them in action I set up a simple pom pom and large building brick sorting activity.
My 3 year old always goes for the Squeezy Tweezers first! They are the perfect combination of a tweezer and scooper. Squeeze the handle to open the ball, scoop up the pom pom and then release the pressure on the handle for the ball to close.
The recommended age for these is 3-7 years old. Some younger children will likely be able to use them but they do require a certain level of hand strength and coordination to open and scoop with the ball. This particular tool demands the entire hand to work, which really helps to strengthen all of those fine motor hand muscles leading to better hand strength.
This neat twist on a tong has three prongs rather than the conventional two. This configuration aims to help children develop better pencil grip strength. It is designed to try and mimic the same finger placement that your child will use when learning to write. Add a little pressure to the prongs and then come together in the middle to be able to pick up objects.
The recommended age for the Tri-Grip Tongs is 4-9 yrs old which I think is an accurate recommendation. My 3 year old had a little trouble holding the tongs with three fingers as intended, but was still able to use them by squeezing with her hand. The pom poms were a great item to practice using these on.
We usually enjoy the Handy Scoopers with water play because there are tiny perforated holes in the scoop part of the tool which make for lots of fun water transfer play. They are effectively a pair of scissors with a big scoop-like ball on the end. They are very easy to open and close and can be used with all sorts of sensory bases.
The age recommendation for these is 3-7 years old but my kids were able to use them at the age of two because they are really light and easy to open and close. I love these because they mimic the action of cutting with scissors and really help with scissor finger placement.
Designed to encourage the use of a good pincer-grasp when transferring loose parts, the Jumbo Tweezers are great for sensory play and sorting. I like that the handle area is large but the grasp section is small therefore requiring accurate hand movements and the ability to pick up small and detailed items.
The Jumbo Tweezers are recommended for children aged 5-9 as they do require a decent level of hand strength to close the two prongs together. My 3 year old can comfortably use them and enjoys the large size. The Gator Grabber Tweezers™ are a great tweezer alternative for younger kids as they are half the size.
I hope this summary has been helpful for you, along with the photos to see the tools in action. If you are after a good starter set, I’d definitely recommend the Helping Hands Fine Motor Tool Set™ because you get a little bit of everything for a very reasonable price. In the set you also get a Twisty Dropper™ which is great for water play and science experiments! I have found the Learning Resources tools to be of great quality, with many of ours still going strong after five years of play.