Threading activities: the secret to perfect pencil grip

Threading activities are simple but their impact can be profound.

just as simple as it sounds. You can provide threading activities for your young children to build fine motor skills with simple materials around the house and garden. You just need something to thread with, whether it be yarn, a small dowel rod, or even noodles, and then grab some objects to thread.

Threading not only makes a fun open-ended activity for your children but helps them to develop the muscles required for fine motor skills. 

What is Threading?

Threading gives children the chance to develop the muscles needed for fine motor skills. You simply use string or sticks to thread through homemade or premade objects, anything from dried pasta to beads. You can be as creative as you like and even take it outdoors, allowing children to use natural materials, such as leaves to thread onto sticks. 

This open-ended activity allows children to explore patterns, counting, concentration, and more all while building important developmental skills.

What Are the Benefits of Threading?

Threading builds important foundational skills children need for success in everyday activities as well as for school.

Improved Fine Motor Control

Everything from getting dressed to writing at school requires fine motor control from small muscles in the hands. So building those muscles helps to build fine motor control skills. Threading helps build those muscles so important for daily activities and foundational for other skills, such as writing.

Encourages Concentration and Resilience

To put something through a hole requires concentration and coordination. If children don’t get it the first time, threading activities encourage them to try again, which builds resilience and further builds their concentration. More like a game than a task, threading gives them the freedom to manipulate objects until they can make them work, which becomes a confidence builder, too!

Promotes Tripod Grip for Better Handwriting

When children use their index fingers and thumbs to pick up an object, they are building muscle and muscle memory for the important tripod grip. Threading activities require the tripod grip muscles so important for pencil grip and handwriting.

Threading Activities for Toddlers

Toddlers can get started early with threading activities to build their fine motor skills. You can use traditional sets of beads and laces or try some simple homemade threading activities.

Threading Through Recycled Containers

Save those plastic-lidded containers for easy, portable threading activities. Poke holes in the lids and have some sticks sized to fit through. Set the container and sticks in front of your toddlers and show them once what to do. Then allow them to try on their own. 

Different types of containers keep the activity fresh so have a variety to use. When they’re done threading, you can put the sticks inside the container, place the lid back on, and now you have a portable threading toy.

Threading Through a Colander

Grab some pipe cleaners, turn a colander upside down, and let your toddler try to poke the pipe cleaners through the holes. The color pipe cleaners spark a clear invitation to play, and they may only need to see you do it once to give it a try themselves. Younger toddlers may get frustrated with the bending of the pipe cleaners so modeling how and where to grip a couple of times can help build their confidence.

Threading Pasta

Using plain or colorful penne pasta makes for a fun threading activity for toddlers. Find a plastic needle longer than the pasta and grab some yarn. Tie a piece of pasta at one end of the yarn and tape the needle to the other. Give your toddlers a bowl of pasta and let them thread away.

If you use colorful pasta, they may be encouraged to create patterns, and don’t be surprised if they ask for more yarn or want to make necklaces, garlands, and window ornaments to hang around the house.

Threading Activities for Preschoolers

As your toddlers progress to preschool age, you can increase the difficulty level. If you find your preschoolers aren’t quite ready, try using pre-punched materials in threading activities that help scaffold their skills to embroidery and sewing.

Threading Natural Materials

Grab some yarn or string and a plastic needle and head outside, allowing children to gather natural materials, such as leaves to thread onto their string. Give them some dried fruit slices to add to pieces that you can hang as natural garlands and wall art. If you forgot your string, gather some fallen sticks and anchor them into mud and allow them to thread onto the sticks.

Sewing Cards

You can find premade wooden sewing cards or simply punch holes into cardboard cereal or packing boxes. Create shapes from the cardboard first, anything from geometric shapes to more difficult shapes like trees and people. 

Then punch holes about a half-inch from the edge. Make the holes large enough for yarn to go through. Using a plastic needle with yarn taped to it or shoelaces, allow children to sew through the circles, following a basic under-over sewing pattern. 

Sewing Felt Shapes

If cardboard sewing cards become too easy, then follow nearly the same process with felt. You can trace simple shapes like hearts and circles onto felt. You or your preschooler can cut out the shapes. Make sure you have at least two of each shape and have them sew the two shapes together. 

The stitching won’t be perfect, but if they want it perfect, you can place dots with a marker around the edge to target where the stitches should enter and exit the felt. 

Final Word

Threading activities can be found everywhere, in the garden, and in the home. Look for opportunities to build those fine motor skills in your developing children by providing varied threading activities each day. Watch for when those activities seem too easy so you can increase the difficulty level and build concentration, skill, and confidence as they grow.

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