It was 5:50 pm. My husband wants to know what is for dinner, and my boys won’t stop asking for a snack. No, crackers and leftover candy canes are not for dinner. I needed to get everyone out so I could navigate the kitchen. – That’s when I came up with this fine motor activity to keep my youngest busy.
I have learned from my 18-month-old that his mind is always focused on how things work and how things come apart. Through these observations, we discovered clothespin pull. Grab your clothespins and paper rolls for this fine motor game for toddlers.
RELATED: Do you need more ways to entertain your little one? Try these 40+ Activities for one-year-olds
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We keep these supplies simple, just like the toys you will find in our toddler toy list! They are timeless and encourage learning through play.
- Clothespins – You could also use chip clips.
- Paper rolls – We have an entire collection of ideas for paper tubes!
RELATED: Stop the search and keep these fine motor ideas on hand.
Clothespin Activity Set Up
Step 1. Attach clothespins to paper rolls.
Begin by offering your one-year-old (in this picture, 18 months) about 5 paper rolls with clothespins clipped to the top. Watch your one-year-old take the clothespins on and off the paper tube.
Step 2. Encourage play.
You can encourage play a little longer with these phrases:
“Can you take the clothespin OFF?”
“Can you put the clothespins THROUGH the tube? Here, I can show…Now you do it.”
“Here, put the clothespins in this bowl.” – offer a bowl as an extension.
Why Focus on Fine Motor Grip?
These skills take a lot of thinking and holding the hand steady.
If we take the time to implement activities for preschool and strengthen the muscles, they can focus on the more challenging parts like letter formation later. Read more on how to improve your child’s motor skills.
RELATED: If you want to help your child with some prewriting activities, try these 25+ Activities to Improve your Toddler’s Pencil Grip.
Get Started Today!
Pulling, pinching, and grasping is huge skills, and your dinner will be ready in no time! Next, head to our favorite toddler activity list for even more quick and easy ideas.
Need More Fine Motor Activities?
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Activities on Demand
Want great ideas without the ads? Download these 20 hands-on learning games for kids.
Frequently Asked Questions
Young children improve fine motor skills by using their small hands to pick up small objects and grasp them. Two-year-olds can improve motor skills when they eat, or when they do simple play invitations that involve using their hands.
The clothespins are great for toddlers to explore opening and closing, but they can pinch if they get their fingers stuck. Stay close as your toddler plays to help if needed.
Toddlers learn by discovering and exploring their environment. We recognize this when our child enjoys playing with a box rather than the toy that came inside. Paper rolls and clothespins help tap into the curiosity of how things work and are familiar with what they notice in the home.
How to Set Up Clothespin Activity
- Paper rolls
- Attach clothespins to paper rolls.Begin by offering your one-year-old (in this picture, 18 months) about 5 paper rolls with clothespins clipped to the top. Watch your one-year-old take the clothespins on and off the paper tube.
- Encourage play.You can encourage play a little longer with these phrases:“Can you take the clothespin OFF?”“Can you put the clothespins THROUGH the tube? Here, I can show…Now you do it.”“Here, put the clothespins in this bowl.” – offer a bowl as an extension.