Activities and Exercises to do at home to improve Hand / Eye Coordination page for our Bustling Butterflies who are mobile on the floor.
This page has been created for Bustling Butterflies, those children and young people who will probably use their wheelchair outside or for longer distances but are mobile on the floor inside and may be walking with a stick or walking frame for some of the time.
This page gives you ideas for activities that you can do to improve the hand/ eye coordination of your child with a disability who is mobile on the floor but is not yet walking.
Hand/eye coordination is the relationship with what we see and how we use our hands. Hand/eye coordination is essential for being able to do everyday tasks such as dressing, eating, climbing, writing and even using a tablet increasing your child’s independence.
These resources will help your child to develop independence. This can include children with mild cerebral palsy or those with a developmental delay. But if you feel like these resources are suitable for your child then please use them!
Use this sequence to progress your child’s hand/eye coordination. You want your child to be successful but still be challenged so pick the activities from this list that you think will work best for your child. If your child is not ready to attempt a certain activity, look at those either before or after which may suit them better.
Make sure your child is successful in their game as this will motivate them to continue. As you push them to get to the next level, they should be able to be successful for a few of their attempts to keep motivated-even if they are not successful at all of them.
Remember to praise the effort rather than the result to motivate them to keep putting in effort and not be put off if they don’t succeed.
Before trying these exercises, take a minute to prepare your child. To wake up their muscles, massage and squeeze their hands, tips of their fingers and their arms. You could also use a brush along their skin. These can help to make your child more aware of their fingers/ hand/ arm which can then help them be more accurate and learn more effectively. You may also want to give their hand, wrist and arm a stretch first if they have any stiffness or increased tone, to allow them to have the most movement possible with which to play.
Most of these activities will feel like fun anyhow but feel free to adapt the exercise to make it more entertaining for your child.
If your child has some instability in their core/ bodies or doesn’t have full sitting balance, it may be better to do these activities in a supportive chair. If they have good balance in their bodies then they can do these activities in sitting on the floor, on a bench, on their knees or even in side sitting to give them an extra challenge.
Cause and Effect Activities – the first step of hand/eye coordination
Playing with musical toys is a great way to build hand/eye coordination. This could include beating a drum, hitting a bell or hitting notes on a keyboard.
If you don’t have any instruments at home you can use everyday object such as a wooden spoon and upside down saucepan, a plastic bottle with some rice in it as a rattle or silver foil or a fire blanket to scrunch.
For other ideas, go to this page: https://www.activityvillage.co.uk/musical-instruments which has some other easy ways you can make musical instruments from everyday objects in the home.
To get more accurate with musical instruments, try to play a Simon says game. You can start with a beat/ tune and they can copy – or they play a beat/tune and you copy.
If your child finds it difficult to isolate their pointing finger see our video on how to isolate a finger for using your tablet.
There are some fabulous apps for tablets which require very little movement to get a big effect. Our favourites include:
Sensory Light box or Sensory Soundbox (£2.99 each from Apple and Android). Just a touch on the screen produces a wide variety of sounds and noises. As you move your fingers/ hand the noises change. Very calming or stimulating, depending on the setting and wonderful feedback for cause and effect.
Fluidity HD (free – for Apple devices only) – beautiful flowing colours controlled by any touch on the screen.
Baby’s Musical hands (free – for Apple and Android)- musical and colourful app – any touch will play a piano sound.
Finger paint (free for Apple and Android) – opportunity to paint with different colours and sounds. Can use multiple fingers at a time if 1 finger painting isn’t possible.
Duck Duck Moose nursery rhymes series. (free on Apple and Android). These are a series of apps with entertaining and often surprising cause and effect options which can keep your child (and you) entertained for ages. They are pretty frustration free as this can be played with children who will use a fist or who have less dexterity in their hands. We particularly like Itzy Bitsy HD, Old Mac HD and Trucks HD.
Dr Panda series (vary from free to £3.99 on Apple and Android) has some lovely options with simple yet entertaining games which require a little accuracy with a pointing finger but nothing too complicated… We enjoy Dr Panda Restaurant, hospital, Beauty Salon and Daycare.
Fun and exciting hand/ eye coordination activities to do at home with your child
Start by blowing bubbles and catching them with the bubble wand. Bring this closer to your child and ask them to pop it with their hand. If they can’t use a pointer finger they can just use their whole hand.
Move the wand around so that they are reaching to pop in different directions. You could even let the bubbles fall on their tray so they can pop them on the tray.
When they are moving their arms to meet the wand, start blowing the bubbles into the air close to the child so that small movements of their arms will pop the bubbles.
Move on to blowing less bubbles so the child is encouraged to be more accurate with their popping.
Roll a ball between you. Start with a big ball and get smaller as your child improves.
Try to stop the ball when it comes to you before rolling back.
Try rolling with more accuracy-e.g. into a container.
Try stopping the ball with 2 hands.
Try stopping the ball with 1 hand.
Staying nice and close to each other, roll a balloon to your partner and ask them to hit it back. This is great for cause and effect as little effort goes a long way and the balloon moves slowly so gives more time to aim the hit back.
As your child improves, stand further apart and launch the balloon into the air rather than along the floor/tray.
Use a beanbag or soft toy to practice throwing. Start with a big container or target very close to the child.
As the child gets more accurate, move the container further away.
You could use colours or other descriptions to throw into different containers (e.g. red toys into bucket, green toys onto the laundry basket OR dinosaurs through the hoop, farm animals into the saucepan).
Set up a 10 pin bowling set with empty plastic bottles/ toilet roll inners or stack a pyramid of empty tins.
Start very close to the target.
Give the child a large soft ball or soft toy to throw.
You could set up a ramp (a piece of cardboard, tray or cushion) off their tray or lap to help them.
Encourage them to get more accurate by seeing how many throws it takes to knock them all over.
As your child gets more accurate, move the target further away.
You could also set up a points system by drawing a target on some cardboard and fix to the door or on the floor. You could also use bits of paper or post it notes on the wall as more difficult targets-the higher and smaller the target, the higher the points. You could also put letters on the targets so your child can spell out a word.
This is a fantastic game and involves playing in teams and getting your team’s ball nearest to a target ball. It can be played with as few as 2 people and you can play from your wheelchair.
If you don’t have balls, use rolled up socks.
See our video for details on the rules for this very inclusive game you can play anywhere.
Give your child a bucket. This could rest on the floor or tray in sitting, or in their arms.
Throw a beanbag or other soft toy into the air and they need to move the bucket to catch it.
As they get better, make the bucket or container smaller so they have to increase their accuracy.
You could also make the ball small or harder for an extra challenge.
Start with a big soft ball and standing/ sitting very close together. Roll the ball into the child’s hands so they get used to holding it and balancing the ball between 2 hands.
Ask the child to throw it back and keep practising until they are accurate to you at a very small distance.
Start moving back a little so there is a gap between you.
Start making the ball a bit smaller-soft balls and beanbags are easier to catch than fully inflated balls. If you don’t have balls at home use rolled up socks, small cushions or soft toys.
Move onto large inflated balls such as footballs and then smaller inflated balls or any other smaller ball.
6. Here is a lovely video for more advanced throw and catch against the wall.
Create a ‘Juggle-board‘
Using a clothes airier you can create a board which enables you to share a adapted ‘juggling’ experience together. Using the airier, the ball/s can travel in a straight line to and from your partner.
Add 1-3 balls, so that one starts before or after the other, at the same time, slower/ faster.
Try sending ball across with opposite hands. You could ring a bell or make a sound effect when the ball has reached its destination.
Introduce a slow piece of music and try to pass the ball on the beat of 1, 4 or 8.
Start with putting soft toys or larger balls into an open container.
Progress to smaller toys into a smaller container. You could combine this with a matching game-putting the red objects into the red container etc.
Shape sorter games are fantastic for eye hand coordination. If you don’t have any, cut a hole in the lid of a plastic pot and post small objects.
As your child gets more accurate, cut smaller holes or slits and post smaller objects such as coins, pebbles or buttons. You could cut different sizes of slits or small holes for different sizes of objects so they have to work our sizes as they post.
Set up laser quest in a box and put all their favourite toys at the bottom for them to manoeuvre out.
See our video for how to set it up and play.
This is a great way to challenge hand eye coordination while multi-tasking.
Use a large spoon and a small ball. The child must get from A to B without the ball falling of their spoon.
Progress this by putting obstacles in the way. Firstly, just move around the obstacles.
Progress to moving over objects, going backwards or going around the whole house including up and down the stairs (make sure you stay close for safety).
- Use finger paints to start getting cause and effect and develop hand coordination. Start with lines up and down and side to side before trying to get circles (which are more complex). (Coming Soon – Fine Motor Games which will explain more.)
- In messy play this is good opportunity to make trails with fingers, follow lines, manoeuvre objects around etc.
- Move onto holding pens/ chalk/ paintbrushes/ crayons for painting and drawing. There are paints and crayons for all ages and abilities.
Puzzles are lovely for making children match up shapes. Some children will try to use force instead of turning the puzzle piece to make it fit so start with easy puzzles where they can be more successful to teach theme about turning the puzzle piece (or turning the board if they can’t turn their hand as well).
Large puzzles with pegs on them are often the best place to start if children don’t have full hand control.
Move onto regular flat puzzles as skills improve.
If you don’t have puzzles at home, cut some bits out of a page from a magazine and your child can piece it all back together.
More fun resources for Bustling Butterflies
Here are a selection of suitable Our Home videos
How to Juggle with your Body
We have created a way to learn how to juggle if you are usually a wheelchair user. In a seated position you can learn to trap the balls using various body parts.
This video is suitable for those children who are in wheelchairs or are less mobile. You can create the laser string quest in any object and include lots of sensory objects for your children to collect.
The scavenger hunt is really simple and easy to set up. It can be adapted to suit any disability and household.