Hand Exercises

Exercises with a focus on the hands –

Have Fun!  Do not make it too hard!!

  • Use a squeeze/spray bottle filled with water.
    • This is fun to use by itself, during a water “fight”, to wash away chalk drawings or to spray into a bucket.
    • Add food coloring to the water and spray newspapers or the grass.  The food color should not, but may stain concrete.
  • Playdough
    • Roll out “snakes” then cut with a plastic knife.
    • Push through a garlic press.
    • Push small objects into it and then try and find them.
    • Pinch off small pieces and make balls out of them.  Build something with the balls to encourage playing longer.
  • Chalk
    • Great to draw on the sidewalk or the side of a building.
    • The fatter pieces of chalk will work on different muscles than smaller/thinner pieces.  Both are good.
    • Drawings do not have to be letters or shapes.  Drawing designs will help to strengthen those smaller hand muscles.
  • Playing cards
    • Just holding them to play a game uses a lot of the small muscles in the hand.
    • Hold them in one hand, pick out one and toss it.  The tossing is best when done with a flick of the wrist as your hands moves from your body to away from your body.
    • Try to flick the card into a hulu hoop that is one the ground.  Get creative and see if you can flick it through a hulu hoop that is held vertically.
  • Playgrounds
    • Playing on playground equipment is another way to build upper body and hand strength.
    • Hanging is great at strengthening.
    • If they are not strong enough, give some support as they try to move the length of overhead bars.  Decrease the help as you are able.  Even if they cannot hold their own weight, it will help with motor planning as they alternate hands.
  • Playing in sand
    • Push the sand into a small, narrow container.  One needs to isolate fingers to really pack it in.  Make structures.  If not packed tightly enough, the structure will not hold up, so it is self-correcting.


Janet Groll, MS, OTR/L