Place a pom pom in your child’s hand and watch: they might squish it with their fingers until it disappears, then open their hand and pop it into the air. Pom poms are magic 😊
Pom poms are a fun way to help develop your child’s fine motor skills and dexterity, and a great addition to sensory play. The following activities are quick and easy to set up and give your child opportunities to practice everything from sorting to motor skills to gluing.
Pom pom water play
Water and pom poms are both tried and true ingredients for sensory play. Combining them can inspire all kinds of engaging activities to develop your child’s fine motor skills, coordination, and concentration.
Here’s how to make a pom pom water station:
- Fill a sensory bin or small storage container with water, and dump in as many pom poms as you or your child want (consider starting with a few and adding more once your child has had a chance to explore them; too many at once can feel like overload for some children).
- Your child will probably be content with just the pom poms, water, and their hands, but you can also offer spoons, tongs, pitchers, and any other object that can scoop, grab, or pour.
- If your child seems unsure of what to do, you can put a wet pom pom into their hand and show them how to squeeze the water out. You can talk about how a dripping-wet pom pom is heavier than one that’s been squeezed out, or let them watch the water drip from one pom pom onto another until both are wet.
- The pom poms can be reused again and again: have your child squeeze the water out (or dump them into a colander and push it out), then lay them on a towel to dry. You can also put them in the dryer: squeeze out the excess water, drop them into a pillowcase, tie the pillowcase with a piece of ribbon or string (or bind with a rubber band) and place the whole thing in the dryer.
Muffin tin color sorting
Creating a color sorting game with a muffin tin and pom poms is a fun way for your child to strengthen fine motor skills, identify and match colors, and practice sorting. Bonus: it’s self-contained and portable, so it’s simple to set up, pack up, and bring wherever you go.
Here’s how to make a color sorting station with a muffin tin:
- Grab a muffin tin from your kitchen and trace the circles of the individual muffin cups on pieces of colored paper (you can also trace them all on white paper and color them with markers or crayons).
- Attach the circles to the inside bottom of each muffin cup using tape; if you make the circles just slightly bigger than the holder, you can push them into place and they will hold.
- Give your child a pair of tweezers or tongs. If you have chopsticks, you can make a pair of tweezers by wedging a folded piece of paper between the chopsticks and wrapping a rubber band around the top.
- Give your child a bowl or handful of pom poms and let them sort. If you have pom poms in different sizes, your child can sort by both color and size.
Pom pom and paper art
You and your child can make all kinds of wonderful art using pom poms, paper, and glue. Cut out the shape of an animal, a tree, a house, or anything else you can think of and use pom poms for the details. This is another great activity for developing fine motor skills, and it also teaches your child about the properties of glue and stickiness.
Here’s how to make pom pom and paper art:
- Though you certainly don’t have to, it’s fun to focus your project around an idea or theme. For example, you can cut out a snowman and use pom poms for eyes and buttons or cut out a leaf and make a caterpillar with a line of pom poms.
- Start by putting dots of glue on the paper for your child, which will make the sticking a little bit easier. When they get more familiar with the properties of glue, you can pour some into a bowl or on a paper plate and give your child a Q-tip to dip into the glue.
- Once your child has some experience gluing the pom poms, you can add pieces of paper, beads, or buttons.
- For the best luck getting the pom poms to stick, use fabric glue.
Straw and pom pom race
This simple activity needs only a straw, tape, and a pom pom, and can be played alone or with someone else. Blowing through a straw helps your child develop the oral motor control that assists with language skills. Practicing different kinds of blowing—slow, fast, hard, and soft—offers more specific lessons in making specific sounds.
Here’s how to make a pom pom race track:
- Place a strip of tape on the floor or on a piece of cardboard or poster board. You can add a second piece of tape about a foot away from the first one to create a racing lane.
- Give your child a straw and set the pom pom at one end of the tape. Show your child how to blow through the straw to move the pom pom down the track to the other end.
- As your child gets more skilled at this, you can make your track more challenging by lengthening it or adding twists and turns. You can also try this activity without a straw: blow directly onto the pom pom, and see if it makes it easier or harder to race.
- You can make a second track and to make a pom pom race against you or another child.
- Get creative with archways made out of blocks or a toilet paper roll tunnel.
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