Babies Walkers to 2 2s to 3s 3s to 4s

Overview and benefit

Young children need to develop control and co-ordination of their fingers and gradually build strength in their hands. This control is of vital importance later when they will use their hand muscles to draw, write, cut and manipulate other tools. Babies usually develop control of their fingers and hands before they can talk, so can learn finger actions to rhymes even before they can say the words.

Equipment required

  • A selection of objects from the list below
  • Background music

Training Video

Cotton Reels 1 Spring 2016

Cotton Reels-1 from MAD Academy on Vimeo.

Cotton Reels 2 – Spring 2016

Cotton Reels2-1 from MAD Academy on Vimeo.

Discussion during Training Spring 2016 on things to use for Threading

Extra Discussion Threading Ideas-1 from MAD Academy on Vimeo.


One to two weeks

How it works

This activity is all about giving the child and parent a range of small objects (though be careful with babies that the objects aren’t too small that they become dangerous if they should put them in their mouth) and encouraging them to pick them up and move them with their fingers. The size of the objects should stimulate their fine motor control.

What to do in the class

Supply each child with 2 plastic boxes (like a margarine tub), one with lots of small objects like buttons, beads, straws, dried pasta, dried beans, etc. Ask children to move the beads one at a time from one box to the next. Another week give the children some giant tweezers and see if they can repeat the activity with those. (Giant tweezers can be purchased from Another week give the children the box with a shoelace and see if they can thread the beads/buttons/pasta (tubes) onto their laces. Dominoes for older kids.

Adaptations for babies

Use things that are appropriate:

  • Rigatoni pasta shapes (large ones)
  • Duplo bricks
  • Cotton reels
  • Pegs
  • Ball pit balls
  • Wooden blocks

If doing this activity with babies, make sure the objects are large enough not to be swallowed. Ping pong balls, cotton reels, pegs, plastic bottle tops, all make good objects. With the younger children who need more encouragement, ask the parent to hold the empty box and ask the child if they can share their items with their mummy by putting some in her box.

Put beads on a thread and ask the parent to hold both ends and the baby moves the beads along.

What to do in a nursery setting

As there will be no one to one parental involvement it is crucial that items are large enough not to ingest in this environment – use larger items such as pegs,, cotton reels, or ping pong balls