Prep: 2-3 Minutes / Activity Time: 3-5 Minutes

Take advantage of your child’s interest in grabbing items and putting them into containers to help develop the fine motor skills he will need for future writing. Provide him with many opportunities to strengthen the muscles of the hand so that he will have an easier time controlling writing tools when the time is right.

  • craft sticks in various sizes
  • box or bin
  • gallon water bottle

Step 1: Gather an empty gallon-size water bottle and let it dry out. This size and type of bottle will be less likely to tip over and it has a handle for easy dumping. Purchase a pack of craft sticks, preferably with different sizes and colors. Place some craft sticks in a box or bin for your child to reach in and grab.

Step 2: Encourage your child to get a craft stick from the box and drop in the opening of the bottle. Narrate what you see your child doing as he is doing it. Talk about the color and size of the craft stick, what he needs to do to try to drop it in, or perhaps how to turn the stick to fit into the opening. When he gets one in, give him lots of enthusiastic praise and have him try again. For example:

Look what I have for us to play with today. Here is a bottle and a box of craft sticks. Can you get a craft stick out of this box? Look, you picked a small, green craft stick. Try to put the stick in this bottle; turn it a little so that it fits in the opening.

Drop! Plop! Hooray, you did it! Did you hear the sound it made when it went in the bottle?

Drop! Plop! Can you get another craft stick and try again?

Step 3: When all the sticks are in the bottle, pose the question of how to get them out. If necessary, show him how to hold the bottle to dump out the craft sticks. If he is interested, start all over again!