Jingle Bell Drop!
I love having this activity in therapy because it can be adapted for multiple skill levels. It makes a festive shaker for my kiddos who are still using a whole hand grasp on objects, it’s a great way to work on developing a pincer or tripod grasp for kids at that developmental level, and perfect for strengthening the small muscles in the hand for kids who are able to use tongs to pick up and transfer the bells. As a parent, you can use the activity with kids at different ages. Using the tongs helps to strengthen the small muscles of the hand. (I like to put a sticker on the tongs as a visual cue for thumb placement to make sure the thumb is opposed to the fingers).
Placing the bells into the small opening requires many skills including hand eye coordination, graded control of the muscles to move the arm to the desired place with the appropriate amount of force, and sequencing and timing to release the object accurately into the opening, just to name a few. Olive tongs or rounded sugar tongs work really well for picking up the bells, but simple bamboo tongs will work, too.
For the little ones…
If your little one is wanting to grasp with the whole hand rather than the finger tips, try putting the bells into an egg carton or a simple ice cube tray. This will facilitate a more mature grasp and set them up better to release it into the container. You should see this more refined grasp emerging around 8-12 months for typically developing children.
Also, if you are worried about them putting the bells in their mouth, you could use poms instead.
To make the reindeer, I just used an empty water bottle and hot glued google eyes and a red pom pom for the nose, then wrapped some brown pipe cleaner around the top to make the “antlers.” The opening on top of the plastic bottle is about 1 inch, so the bells need to be 3/4″ or smaller to fit through the hole easily. Let me know if you have any questions! Have fun!