Introducing tongs to a child as young as eighteen months is a great way to build hand strength, develop fine (finger, hand) and gross motor (arm, shoulder) skills, build coordination and provide an opportunity to cross the midline. Using tongs with transfer work allows the child through repitition to develop focus and concentration!
All of these tongs (pictured above) are from Amazon or Montessori Services. Although I recommend having a look if you are near a kitchen specialty store - often it's easier to get a feel for the tongs in person. Searching mini tongs, sugar tongs, ice tongs or cake tongs may help too. Some of these pictured are mini metal tongs which are suitable for transferring and picking up small items. Some of the bamboo tongs are adult size however an older child will have some success with them. For a very young child I recommend tongs without latches. Otis started using tongs as a toddler and you can see he still needs to concentrate when he uses them now.
Otis is at the stage where all of his transferring work needs to be purposeful. Transferring food is the most common way we use tongs. Fruit (for snack), vegetables, cake, salad, cheese (cubes for snack or grated as a garnish), bread rolls (at the dinner table) or for serving meals. Prepared practical life trays are valuable if you have a child, possibly a younger child who is interested in them.
Otis is currently working on his pencil control so I know that activities that build hand strength are really beneficial. Transferring work with tongs (gripping the tongs, squeezing to pick up the items then release) uses a similar action and muscles to cutting with scissors, which can be really useful for a toddler or young child who is still to master scissor work! Best of all this work usually only takes a few minutes and can be incorporated into everyday life.
Above Otis is using an older version of these tongs. Through our school holidays (January) I am hoping to maintain a posting schedule of three times a week - Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I love blogging daily so I will see how long I last!