Straws are a fun and affordable way to develop fine motor skills such as cutting and stringing. Straws also can be used for fun tabletop games or for arts and crafts.
1. Blowing bubbles: Who remembers blowing bubbles in a glass of milk as a child? Blowing bubbles are a great way for improving oral motor skills as well as improving muscle tone in cheeks and lips. An easy fun activity is adding a couple drops of dish soap with some water into a large bowl. To make it extra exciting, food coloring can be added. Have your child blow as many bubbles as possible by exhaling through the straw. A trick to make sure your child does not inhale any soapy water, is to cut a small hole near the top of the straw so the child is able to exhale but not inhale water!
2. Cutting: Cutting different sized straws is a great way to develop scissor skills. Cutting straws helps to develop ability to snip and open/close scissors because straws are easy to hold and align. Plus there is the added fun factor that the pieces fly when cut!
3. Stringing: Using cut up straws to string onto pipe cleaner or yarn is a great fine motor activity to increase pincer grasp skills, and bilateral hand use. Different beads can be added for color and they can make great bracelets or key chains.
4. Painting: Place different colored washable paint dollops on a large sheet of paper and have your child blow air through a straw to create a masterpiece! The same technique can be used for blowing bubbles, cut a small hole near the top of straw to prevent ingestion of paint.
5. Maze: Glue straws to the top of a cardboard box lid to create a maze. You can use shoe box lids, or old soda cartons. Feel free to get creative and it can be simple or complex. Place a marble in the maze and have your child hold the lid using both hands to move box in order to have the marble travel through the maze. This is a wonderful activity that addresses bilateral hand skills, motor planning, and force modulation.