Fine Motor-Thumb Opposition
Thumb Opposition refers to the ability to turn and
rotate the thumb so that it can touch each fingertip
of the same hand.  This allows us to grasp objects of
various sizes and operate tools.  Imagine trying to tie
shoes, pull up a zipper or hit a ball with a bat without
your thumbs.
Therapy Street for Kids
More about Thumb Opposition
    Humans have "opposable thumbs" which means the thumbs are able to rotate and turn to touch,
    and oppose, the tips of all the fingers.  Having opposable thumbs is an important environmental
    adaptation that has set primates, which includes humans, apart from the rest of the animal
    kingdom.  It enables us to do things with one or two hands that would be impossible to
    accomplish by organisms that don't have thumbs.  The thumb is the shortest digit on the hand
    yet it is controlled by more muscles than the other digits.  It is able to move in more
    directions because of the unique joint it has at its base.

    Children begin to develop thumb rotation to form a spherical grip between their 1st and 2nd
    year of life.  The thumb begins to develop a better ability to rotate and oppose the other
    fingers.  For a variety of reasons, many children lack the thumb stability for sustaining the
    thumb in a partially bent position when using writing and drawing tools.  They have difficulty
    holding implements between the tip of the thumb opposing fingertips.   They substitute by
    using stronger hand muscles that pull the thumb straight up beside the index finger or wrapped
    over other fingers when writing and drawing.  This causes hand fatigue and difficulty grading
    the amount of pressure for pushing a pencil or crayon.  Control is less precise and work may be
    messy.

Why is this important?
    Think of all of the things you do day to day that require the use of your thumbs.  Without them,
    would you be able to write with a pencil?  Brush your teeth?  Open or close the lid on a jar?  
    How long would it take you to tie your shoelaces if you tried to do it with only your fingers?  
    Even something as  simple as turning a doorknob, tying a knot in a balloon or turning a key.

    An important aspect of having a rotating thumb is that it is able to form a "web space"
    between it and the index finger when both tips touch and form a circle.  Think of the A-ok
    sign.  It is called a "web space" because of the extra skin at the base of the thumb and index
    finger that has the appearance of a web, similar to animals that have webbed toes.   An open
    web space is important for holding writing and drawing tools correctly.  When the space is open
    and the writing tool is held with the thumb tip and fingertips, this allow for greater precision
    and control.  Written work and drawings are more accurate.  There is less stress on the joints
    of the hand and, thus, less writing fatigue.

Activities to Open the
Web Space
squeeze foam balls, animals and shapes that are rounded
tennis ball "hungry guy":   Hide pennies, pegs, beads and other small things inside.  Squeeze to open and shake out the contents,
then feed the "hungry guy" by slipping in the "food".   See Homemade Play for instructions on how to make this.
catch, throw and squeeze rubber "pinky" balls, tennis balls and similarly sized balls
bulb syringe games (usually in infant supply sections of stores) or turkey baster to squirt water, or have a race by squeezing
them to blow cotton balls and pompoms across a finish line.
craft activities that require using bottles to squeeze: glue, glitter glue, puffy paint, fabric paint, etc.
sponges: squeezing large sponges to wring out the water is great for opening and strengthening the hands.  Help wash the car,
wash toys and dolls in the sink or bathtub, squeeze sponges on your friends during water play outdoors, bring a bucket or cooler
filled with water and sponges to cool off on a hot day when on picnics, soccers games and other outings.
Shuffling cards using both hands with palms cupped

 Try to keep the ring and pinky fingers tucked into the palm so that the THUMB, INDEX and  MIDDLE fingers do the work
Tongs, tweezers, connected chop sticks, strawberry hullers:  use these to pick up small objects for sorting, such as beads,
marbles, beans, pompoms and cotton balls.
corn cob holders, toothpicks or large push pins (thumb tacks):  Place a picture over a sheet of craft foam or cork board (or
trivet).  Then use the push pin or corn cob prongs to punch holes along the lines of a picture.  Hold it up to let the light shine
through.  
Push a toothpick point into a styrofoam tray or plate, or in aluminum foil placed over craft foam or corkboard to make a picture.
place coins or bingo chips in narrow slots; a piggy bank is perfect, Connect Four game
eye droppers: make colorful dribble art creations by placing drops of colored water on a paper towel or coffee filter
spinning tops
geoboards: make shapes and letters using rubber bands on geoboards
pick-up sticks, Jenga, Don't Spill the Beans
wind up toys
pegboard activities, Lite Brite
tiddly winks games, Ants in the Pants
tong games:  Operation, Crocodile Dentist, Bedbugs
Ziplok bags: encourage using fingertips to press and seal
Buttoning, snapping
pop beads
linking chains
stringing beads
peel stamps and stickers
crumple small bits of tissue paper using fingertips, dip in glue and paste onto a paper plate or paper to make a flower bouquet
tear small pieces of paper with finger tips and paste them onto a sheet of paper to make a picture
pop the bubbles on large or small bubble pack by pinching with thumb and index finger

Clay, therapy putty, Silly putty, play-doh, Sculpey, bread dough, modeling foam (Crayola Model Magic)
roll small pieces between the thumb and index finger to make little balls
these are all excellent materials for squeezing, squishing, pushing, pulling and molding
try hiding small objects (beads, pennies, beans) inside and then try pulling them out

Clothespin games:
use the pads of the thumb and index finger to open the clothespin rather than pinching it open against the side of the index
finger
When pinching open, try alternating each finger to squeeze opposite the thumb.
place clothespins along the top of a container and then on top of each other to construct a design.
Pick up small objects with the clothespin: cotton balls, pompoms,crumbled paper, beads, pegs, etc.
Attach several clothespins along the bottom hem of shirt and then pull them off.
Place clothespins around an index card
Hang up pictures or plush toys on a string, like a clothesline.
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