We love spray bottles around here! They are just so much fun, and their possibilities to use them are endless! We have used them in preschool to spray wars, put out pretend fires, water the plants, and more! Children are always excited to get the chance to use them, and I often let them use them without too many limitations, so their imaginations can take the lead!
I also love to use them with my own children! I often give them each a spray bottle with water and a cloth and tell them to go and wash the walls, the floor, the doors, pretty much anywhere in the house that is dirty! They love being able to “help”, and little do they know it’s actually very helpful for development!
Why are spray bottles helpful for their development? Within the hands, are many different muscles and tendons. These muscles and tendons help control your hands movements. If you squeeze your hand, you are contracting several muscles. When you release, those muscles become relaxed. Without practice, those muscles become weak and unable to do simple life tasks such as do up buttons, or zippers, and can’t do more complicated tasks such as tie shoes. Those tiny muscles within the hands are also important for holding a pencil correctly, and for using movements to write letters and numbers later on in life.
So how can we help our children strengthen these muscles? Here are my favourite 3!
1) Spray bottles
2) Play Doh
3) Ripping Paper
Each of these activities require your child to use their hand muscles in slightly different ways. Spray bottles work on the contracting of the muscles as a whole, as they squeeze the trigger to spray out the water. Play Doh works on a combination of muscles. It helps with the muscles as a whole as they squeeze the Play Doh within their hands to create shapes. They also work on their pincer grip, which is the movement between their thumb and index finger as they tear off pieces of Play Doh or add eyes, legs, arms, or whatever else they imagine to their creations. Ripping paper helps work on the pincer grip, as they use their index finger and thumb to rip the paper. Give them some glue, and you’ll further help strengthen this important muscle combination!