We know the significance of the hand. Many Montessori activities promote the use of the pincer grasp, to strengthen the hand and fingers and to develop coordination. The pincer grasp prepares the hand for writing and it supports many other activities such as using scissors, doing up buttons, care of self including feeding and other fine motor skills which are really important throughout life.
'Those children who have been able to work with their hands make headway in their development, and reach a strength of character which is conspicuous.' - Maria Montessori. The Absorbent Mind.
Promoting the pincer grasp is really important (it's essential!) however we need to fully supervise our children and be aware when using small materials. This is not an exhaustive list but a snapshot of how we promoted the use of the pincer grasp through the years.
Six Months - Picking up bread crumbs, wheat puffs and sultanas.
Nine Months - Pincer Grasp Block.
Twelve Months - Threading with matchsticks (poking matchsticks in play dough was popular too).
Two Years - Using art materials such as charcoal. Sorting small things including coloured tokens (other ideas include sorting buttons or dried beans). Using lock and key activity. Using a dropper or pipette for play or transferring water. Pasting and holding small pieces of paper. Threading with straws (or pasta or similar).
Three Years - Crafts such as French Knitting. Drawing with chalk. Preparing a banana snack. Using a Geoboard. Using a pipette for colour mixing. Sorting or transferring with tweezers or mini tongs.
Four Years - Hand sewing. Using craft materials like Wikki Stix. Using a flower press.
For young children puzzles with knobs are fantastic. Later sorting small things such as beads allows for repeated pincer use. Pipettes and small tongs or tweezers are great for play or transferring activities. Craft materials are also really good for promoting the pincer grasp, materials like modelling beeswax and clay where lots of pinching is required.