Tongs as Toys!

Age Range
3-7 yrs
Setup Time
Under a minute!
Setup Location

Children benefit from experiences that enhance the development of their fine motor skills enabling them to utilize their hands and fingers. Children need to have strength and dexterity in their hands and fingers, as well as eye-hand coordination, before being able to manipulate a pencil on paper.

The ability to use tongs is a pre-scissors skill, and the ability to use scissors is a pre-writing skill. When kids use tongs, they have to learn to “separate” the two sides of their hands (thumb/index finger side and middle/ring/pinky finger side), and this is exactly what is needed in order to successfully operate both scissors and a pencil.

Tongs, tweezers, and chopsticks are great for developing hand skills necessary for cutting with scissors and writing with pencils.

How many cotton balls can your child move from one container to another with a pair of kitchen tongs?


  1. Give your child a pair of kitchen tongs and cotton balls

  2. Have your child transfer the balls from one container to the other, without dropping or using the other hand

  3. For older kids, you can increase complexity by changing the depth of containers to encourage them to experiments with moving their hands in various angles to see what works best

  4. After a few sessions with the cotton balls, switch to something heavier like walnuts or small stones

Disclaimer: This presents an overview of child development. It is important to keep in mind that the time frames presented are averages and some children may achieve various developmental milestones earlier or later than the average but still be within the normal range of development. This information is presented to help parents understand, at a high level, what to expect from their child. Any questions/concerns you may have about your child’s development should be shared with your doctor.