It's just as important to know your child's weaknesses as their strengths. Our recent parent-teacher interviews confirmed my thinking on Caspar's weaknesses. I knew Caspar was lacking in hand strength but I wasn't doing anything about it. While Caspar's teacher has him focusing on hand strengthening/pencil control activities in the classroom it's important for me to follow up at home. The usual suggestion for increasing hand strength? Clay!
It really hard for Caspar to get some time alone to work with clay although it's always available in our art centre. Otis loves to use clay too but the problem is Otis also loves to destroy what ever Caspar makes. So when Otis goes to sleep early Caspar stays up to create. To ensure he uses his hands a lot I don't suggest using tools as I previously would have. We use air drying clay that Caspar (and sometimes Otis) can paint the following day.
FIMO is great too. It's also really firm. FIMO comes in a wonderful range of colours and just needs baking to set. I suggest buying the individual blocks over the sets. The sets often come with instructions to create specific things and for Caspar this really limits his creativity, he always feels like he needs to create what is in the instructions.
Modelling beeswax is also a good option for strengthening hand muscles. I gave Caspar some modelling beeswax a year or so ago and he didn't like it. It is really hard although softens with the warmth of your hand. You could warm it up for your child first. But now he's a little older he likes to use it. It smells lovely and is a nice natural choice. Caspar (he's 4) has found the beeswax strips like this much easier to use over beeswax blocks which I had given him previously.
Now all I need to do is to encourage Caspar to do one or more of these activities regularly. Strong hands here we come!