Ice cube tray and corn kernels

Two things so unrelated..but when we put them together… tadaaaa!, a fine motor pincer grip work for toddlers (and preschoolers)!

In this exercise, we need:

  • tray
  • small ice cube tray
  • A small container for the kernels
  • corn kernels (or beans, but the lovely yellow color is more enticing)

Fine motor skill exercises moved up to top priority when I noticed Meimei held her paint brush with her fist yesterday. In Montessori, after we’ve observed when something isn’t right, our first response is not to correct. We give them opportunities to help them get there on their own. For this specific skill–the proper pencil hold–the three-pincer grip exercise is the way to get there.

I prepared two trays, one for my 2yo and another for my 4yo. I was very diligent with Jiejie on this when she was younger, giving lots of opportunities to practice her three-pincer grip. With Meimei, not so much. What’s my excuse? Siblings happened.

When I gave Meimei the work, Jiejie wanted the exact same thing. The problem with that was, it was much too simple for Jiejie, and she gets bored. What does boredom look like? She will start using the materials “creatively”, making up her own way of using it. When you have an older child that’s working on the exact same work, the younger one is always, always, watching. Ten seconds into it, and the pincer work isn’t a pincer work anymore for both children. 😕 I had been discouraged and had been waiting for the “perfect scenario” before presenting these kinds of work again. But I guess, it couldn’t wait any longer.

I thought quickly. Two works exactly the same, but Jiejie should have a different goal than Meimei?

I had observed that Jiejie holds her pens the proper way, but when she writes, it’s from right to left, so we need to work on reinforcing the left-to-right-direction when writing in English.

Simply put, Meimei’s goal is to fill up the ice cube tray, putting one kernel into each space with her fingers. Instructions for Jiejie on the other hand, is to fill up the top line first, from left to right, before moving onto the next line right below it.

I also had put into consideration where to put the container for their kernels. Since Jiejie is left-handed, I placed it to the left side, and right side for Meimei, who’s right-handed.

And that’s it!

Another three-pincer grip activity we’ve done today: the Perfection game. You place the shapes holding onto the little pin on top, and find the match for the shape on the board. After the timer had been set, and the board pressed down, you have 60 seconds to find all the matching shapes before the timer goes off, and your board pops up, popping all pieces out.

Both girls aren’t too fond of it popping up. They aren’t too keen on working under pressure just yet. So we just keep the board popped up, and the timer set to off. They can take their time to put the pieces in without worrying about the board popping up and scaring them.

Not all Montessori toys are made of wood. To read more about what makes a toy Montessori, check out this past blog post.

Thank you for visiting! Until next time! ❤️


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