Spaghetti Box Kids

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Fine Motor Skills Games with Spaghetti

September 30th, 2009 · 8 Comments

Here’s an activity that just might become one of your child’s favorite fine motor skills games. It’s easy to set up and only requires a few basic items from around the house. Best of all, it’s safe to say that parents will have fun too.

fine motor skills activities

What You Need:

-spaghetti sticks (regular, not thin)
-Q-Tips
-scissors
-sheet of paper (optional)
-frying pan (optional)
-colored marker (optional)
-masking tape (optional)

What to Do:

1. Cut the end off a Q-Tip.
2. Break a spaghetti stick in half.
3. Place spaghetti stick on a hard surface. Hold one end down with thumb and forefinger. Keep this end held firmly in place while you bend the other end back and release.
4. Repeat step three with Q-Tip piece directly in front of spaghetti stick.

Notice that Q-Tip end flies through the air with surprising zeal. But watch out, if you pull the spaghetti stick back too far, it will break. The fact that your child has to control the tension in the spaghetti stick is what makes this an excellent fine motor skill activity. Here’s some fun games to play once your child gets the hang of the procedure:

Game 1:
See who can fling a Q-Tip end closest to the edge of your kitchen table without going over. To play, sit side by side at and take turns. Give a point to the winner on each turn. First person to reach ten points wins the game. (Variation: Each person flings ten Q-Tip ends. Keep track of whose are whose by coloring one player’s pieces with a red marker. Now give points to the top five. That was round one. Keep playing until one player reaches twenty five points.)

Game 2: See who can shoot the most pieces into a frying pan. To play, place a large frying pan on your kitchen table. Sit side by side. Each player uses ten Q-Tip ends. (One person’s are colored red with a marker). Take turns shooting or shoot all at once–whichever you prefer. Count who made the most pieces into the frying pan.

Game 3: See who can shoot a Q-Tip end the furthest. Simply sit on the floor or use a table top as a launch point. (Variation: Use ten pieces each. The winner is the person who has the most pieces in the top five).

Game 4:
Fling Q-Tip piece back and forth over a net. To play, fold an 8.5″ x 11″ piece of paper in half length-wise. Fold it in half again. You’re left with a long thin rectangle. Crease the top. The bottom will open slightly by itself. Place the bottom on your table top so that the piece of paper resembles a tennis net. Sit on opposite sides of the table and fling your piece back and forth. Whenever a player shoots the piece into the net instead of over the net, the other player gets a point. First player to reach ten points wins. (Advanced: Keep score the same way you keep score in tennis!)

Game 5: See who can reach target area in fewest turns. To play, use masking tape to make a 12″ x 12″ square on your living room floor. Now make a starting point in your kitchen. See who can make it from kitchen to your target area in the fewest turns. If you’re playing on carpet, place Q-Tip piece under a book each time you fling it. (Variation: Make obstacles. For example, place a chair or chest in the middle of the course to create a detour.)

There’s no end to the types of games you can invent using 1/2 a spaghetti stick and the end of a Q-Tip. Try seeing what you can invent using cereal boxes. A circle cut-out in the middle makes a good target. Or placing two cereal boxes side by side a few inches apart makes a challenging opening. (Sit on opposite sides of a table with the two boxes in the middle–see who can sharp shoot through the opening!) You’ll find that these games and activities not only help to improve fine motor skills, they keep your child’s full focus and attention from beginning to end. Have fun!

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Tags: Kids’ Activities

8 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Catherine // Oct 1, 2009 at 7:19 am

    Another fun idea – although I’ll have to think about a safe way to do this without little bits that the baby might find. I’m sure that just breaking the spaghetti will be greatly enjoyed.
    As a sideline, kids could investigate how many pieces of spaghetti they get when they break the spaghetti by holding the ends – is it 2 or is it always 3? I have a feeling you always get 3.

  • 2 Spaghetti Box Kids // Oct 1, 2009 at 1:43 pm

    I guess you might have to sweep up when you’re finished (if you have a little one in the oral stage who wants to know what all the fuss was about). That’s a neat sideline about breaking a spaghetti stick in two. Thanks for sharing that!

  • 3 Emily // Oct 1, 2009 at 7:59 pm

    Both my kids are going to have fun with this. I can see playing all Saturday afternoon. I don’t know where you come up with so many ideas but I love coming to your website.

  • 4 Spaghetti Box Kids // Oct 1, 2009 at 8:42 pm

    Thanks for the encouraging feedback. Good luck with the activities–hope you come up with some fun variations.

  • 5 Asim Bandyopadhyay // Oct 2, 2009 at 11:17 am

    Very interesting games for the kids. I have subscribed to the newsletter.

  • 6 Spaghetti Box Kids // Oct 2, 2009 at 4:47 pm

    Good stuff! Thanks for subscribing. Hope you enjoy the articles.

  • 7 ERS // Dec 12, 2010 at 8:36 pm

    I’m a little confused – is the spaghetti meant to stay on the table and anchored by thumb and forefinger the whole time, with just the other end moving? How does it launch things into the air?

  • 8 Spaghetti Box Kids // Dec 12, 2010 at 10:39 pm

    Yes, exactly- the spaghetti stick stays on the table. One end is anchored by thumb and forefinger, and the other end is bent back, then released. When released, it will strike the fluffy end of a Q-tip low enough to cause the Q-tip to launch through the air. Good luck.

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