Toddler Tongs and Water Play!

It’s been hot here lately…and we haven’t even hit summer yet! I’m not really a summer person…i prefer to be able to snuggle up and eat lovely comfort food…but as i can’t do that year round (and eventually have to get back into shorts) i try to get outside with the toddler twosome for some outside play early in the day pretty much every day!

I love water play activities for keeping toddlers busy outside…lets me get into the vegetable patch after we have had some fun together…they always find a way to extend the activity and have no further need for my input!!

Over the weekend we got outside with some tongs, big bowls and our trusty foam blocks and got into some fine motor fun!

Toddler fine motor play
One of the areas that Ruby’s early intervention work needs to focus on is her fine motor skills. She is lagging a little in this area although she has made great strides in the past few months.
One of the main issues is due to her Sensory processing disorder she is often on the move and craves a lot of gross motor play and action. She is not good at staying and focusing on a task or activity for a lengthy period of time which unfortunately cuts down on the time she spends on participating in fine motor play . She likes to keep moving and not feel like she has to ‘sit still’…this we are working on…it has led to a few professionals being quick to diagnose ADHD but i am not convinced as yet…from the research i have been doing and conversations with our OT i really feel that SPD is misunderstood and not often considered to be the cause of this behaviour…it is a frustrating aspect to her behaviour so i will continue to research and work with early intervention and hopefully we will see some improvement…i’d love to hear from anyone else who is experiencing something similar with their  SPD child.!
In the meantime i need to get clever about how i encourage Ruby to participate in fine motor activities!

Toddler fine motor water play

Starting outside with an activity is a good tactic as she immediately feels comfortable that she can move around if she wants to…that may sound indulgent to some parents and teachers perhaps but it is a stepping stone to working within Ruby’s current limits and extending her skills to the next stage. I am learning that having a child with SPD can be a frustratingly slow process!

This activity was very basic but lots of fun for both girls….i always ensure that the activity chosen for Ruby will also be of benefit and fun for her twin too!

I filled 2 large bowls with water…easier for me to have a bowl for each of the toddler twosome but you could just as easily do this in the bath, a water table or play pool. I added a little edicol dye to colour and then some tongs and our FOAM BLOCK SHAPES …..

Toddler water play

I gave the girls a selection of different sized tongs to use…the idea being that they would use them to pick up the foam blocks floating in the water. This does take a little practice for a toddler…they need to first understand how the tongs work, then how much pressure to apply to squeeze them together, then how to pick up items from the water. I did join in and model how to use them a few times but they were happy just to work on their own problem solving!

Some of the tongs were small, some big, some harder to squeeze, some easier. I pick them up from the op shops whenever i see them as they are such wonderful tools for fine motor activities!

Toddler fine motor play

I also added a few items from the kitchen drawer that were heavy enough to sink to the bottom…the girls enjoyed finding them and trying to pick them up with the tongs…was a little more difficult but sure kept them busy! They just picked them up with their hands if they got too frustrated.

Ruby kept watching what Tara was doing and tried to copy even though she found it much harder than her sister….she did wander off quite a few times but kept coming back to give it another try…each time practising her fine motor skills and patience just a little bit more.
 She also liked putting the blocks in and out of the water and enjoyed naming the shapes and their colour so another learning opportunity just through play!

Tara seemed to be relishing the joy of wielding tongs left, right and centre!!

So much concentration…and a lot of problem solving…she kept going until she got it just right!

As the girls interest in the activity began to wane i decided to extend the fun and brought out our teacups and silver pouring jugs…this is one of Ruby’s favourite activities and also good for eye hand coordination and of course fine motor skills!

They also became fascinated when they realised they could see their reflections in the water….don’t you wish you could see the wonder of life through toddler’s eyes somedays?

Tara then decided she would pour some of her red water into the paddling pool which had clear water…this turned into a wonderful activity for talking about colour and mixing. A little bit of red….

Some more pouring and a little mixing…and the pool turns red!

Amazing how the simple things can keep them so busy for so long…we stayed outside under our shady tree all morning…and they had a fantastic day time nap!

The simple joy of sharing some water play fun with your sister….Mummy not required!

Like more ideas for fine motor fun with toddlers? Why not visit some of our previous posts in this area for some inspiration?

Lots of Fine Motor Play Ideas….

Do you have a toddler who doesn’t like sitting still? I’d love for you to share your experiences or a favourite fine motor activity!
If this is your first visit….WELCOME! You can follow us on FACEBOOK and PINTEREST to ensure you don’t miss any of the fun and mayhem!

Warm Wishes..

17 thoughts on “Toddler Tongs and Water Play!

  1. Thanks for reminding me of this one Jode! I just picked up a whole lot of colourful tongs at the supermarket and have been brainstorming what to do with them. Had them out with stones and a sorting box on friday – will try this this week 🙂

  2. Gee you are a smart Mum… you have to work with her interests and not set her up to fail, so coming up with a fine motor activity that gives her scope to move around and feel comfortable is so spot on… and ooooh it looks like so much fun!

  3. What a wonderful idea. I didn’t even think of using tongs in water play. You’re a genius! I’m going to use them in our bath play tomorrow night!

  4. We’ve always used tongs with a great bowl of chopsticks. Now that’s fun – trying to pick one up and place it into tht next bowl!
    Adding water really is a great idea 🙂

  5. Jode, I just love how your photos show a story and progression of learning and fun. You start off with a few simple props for a meaningful learning opportunity(goal/aim) and the idea grows and grows into a wonderful, memorable and amazing open-ended activity. Thats what play is all about! I absolutely adore the photo of one of the twins concentrating with the tongs – priceless!

  6. Such a great collection of photographs. I absolutely love this idea. Play doesn’t have to be more than exactly what you provided your kids. Great work. Thanks.

  7. Tongs and water was one of the activities Jack’s OT prescribed too. He’s developmentally about 12 months behind his typical age group. This activity really is quite challenging, isn’t it? I had to give the tongs a miss at first because he was getting too frustrated and swap for a tea strainer. Then once he mastered that, just scooping the objects out, I reintroduced the tongs. I’m just glad he likes water so much too 😀


  8. How old were your girls when they did this? One thing I find really hard is understanding what activity goes with what age so please when you post activities can you provide suggested age range? Also, really dumb question but your girls look so young, how on earth could they be diagnosed with some kind of disorder at such a young age? Thanks!

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