Button fastening requires many skills including co-ordinating both sides of the body and fine finger movements. Prior to learning to fasten buttons it is important to be able to consistently use a pinching finger movement with the thumb and index finger (pincer grasp) and use both hands to do different things at the same time.
What you need: Individually or with a partner
- Place hands palm down on table.
- Turn right hand over then left hand, then right palm down, left palm down maintaining a steady rhythm.
- With partner, stack hands on top of each other e.g. child's right hand palm down on table, partner's right hand palm down on top, child's left hand followed by partner's left hand. Child withdraws hand at bottom of pile and places it on top of stack. Partner repeats action with his bottom hand. Continue in this way maintaining the correct order of hands whilst gradually increasing the speed.
- Gradually introduce more complex hand games with a partner.
What you need: Length of washing line or scoubidou, Shoe lace, String, Pasta/ Large buttons/ Shells
- Initially use a more rigid thread.
- Progress onto threading using string, wool or elastic.
- Use smaller beads etc.
- Vary the complexity of the patterns.
Mixing Bowl Activities - Stabilise bowl with one hand while mixing with the other
What you need: Mixing Bowl, textured ingredients
- Vary the tool used for mixing e.g. spoon, whisk, fork.
- Vary the consistency of the mixture.
Posting and Collecting Games
What you need: Make a 'letter box' slot in a plastic lid (e.g. from an ice cream tub) vertically. Vary the size of the slot depending on the item to be posted. Vertical posting is easier than horizontal.
- Post large buttons, playing cards etc through the slot in the lid (held by an adult) and collect the item in the other hand.
- Initially use large objects and gradually progress to smaller objects.
What you need: Pegs and things to 'peg' i.e cardboard, paper
- Clothes pegs can be used to help to strengthen the pincer grasp.
- They can be attached to make decorative edges on cardboard pictures, peg together to make a long train or even peg out washing on a line.
- Use both right and left hands.
To develop the specific skill of fastening buttons, it is important that your child is seated at a table so that they can concentrate on the task.
- Start by using large flat round buttons.
- Sew 3 buttons to a piece of rectangular felt and cut vertical button holes onto a matching piece of felt.
- Guide your child to post and collect the button as with the plastic lid activity.
- Gradually progress to fastening smaller buttons on the felt.
- Once the skill of posting and collecting buttons has been mastered, progress to fastening large buttons on garments that fasten in the front.
Make sure that the button fastening challenge is 'just right' i.e. that your child can always achieve.