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Tweeze and Thank You

Age: 3 to 8 Time: <30 min
Materials: Tweezers
Skills: Curiosity, Naturalist, Fine Motor, Focus & Self Control

If you introduce a compelling tool, let them tinker with it, then let them challenge themselves with it, nearly all kids engage and get sucked in. So, what's an example of a great tool? Tweezers! Tweezers are simple, easy to bring along and yet challenging. They are versatile enough to suit the unique motor skills and interests of kids ages 3+, and kids just love them. Lay out tweezers. With little to no instruction, kids are drawn in, immediately trying to squeeze and tweeze the things (or siblings) around them. They need not be fancy—you and your kids can use stuff from the junk drawer to make your own tweezers (see our quick how-to).

When you take your tweezers outside, you give kids endless ways to test out their tool and challenge themselves. They can try to see what they can and can't pick up using just tweezers. Prompt them to use tweezers to excavate and find life inside a rotting log. Or, use tweezers to gently hold a delicate discovery under a magnifying glass. We've shared several of our favorites challenges below. Try suggesting some or just let them invent their own.

The Guide

  1. Get your hands on some tweezers: You can buy kid-friendly tweezers, use mom’s tweezers or, better yet, make your own. We found great tweezers on Whichever type you go with, just make sure they are not too stiff for your kids’ young hands. Too much challenge ruins the learning and the fun.
  2. Make tweezers: You should have everything you need (cotton ball, rubber band and take-out chop sticks) in the junk drawer! Check out our 2 minute tutorial on how to transform these simple materials into your own tweezers.
  3. Introduce the tweezers: Show kids how you like to use tweezers to pick up an object or two. Then, give them time to play and develop their own methods.
  4. Prompt with a challenge: To follow are some of our favorite challenges that involve tweezers. Suggest or simply try these ideas out together:
  5. Sizing them up: Kids have to find the limits of their tweezers. For example, what’s the heaviest, lightest, largest, smallest, longest, shortest, most squirmy, or most delicate things that they can pick up and hold with tweezers? This is great for building descriptive vocabulary and a sense of the different ways to think about size (i.e. weight, length, volume).
  6. Hunt & gather: Hunt for items that are either really interesting to them or that are all in the same category (e.g. color, shape, texture, smell) and gather them in some kind of container (e.g. bag, bindle or bucket). The tricky part? They can ONLY pick and move objects using tweezers.
  7. Life in a rotting log: A dead log is lively place, often home to a whole bunch of busy critters. Tweezers are a great tool for picking at the wood and, once uncovered, picking up the tenants in a rotting log.
  8. Be gentle: Although the name sounds like the perfect challenge for a toddler (how many times do we say that?!), it is really best for kids over age 4 or 5 who have strong fine motor skills and self control. For those kids, though, it's a great way to hone these very skills. Challenge kids to use tweezers to pick up truly delicate objects, including flowers, fresh leaves and plant parts, mushrooms, or small twigs. Make it even more fun by giving them magnifying glasses through which to better see the objects. Kids will have to use a great deal of control to keep from crushing the object.

Why is this activity great for kids?

Tinkering with tweezers can help develop skills kids need for school and for life, and naturally encourage executive function skills like focus and self control. Using tweezers naturally get kids to slow down a bit and look more carefully, noticing the smaller, often awe-inspiring treasures outdoors. As kids grip, place and squeeze tweezers to pick up treasure outside, they develop fine motor control in their hands. Tweezers also help kids discover the world of smaller things that make up the natural world. As they attempt to pick up objects of various sizes and shapes, they also gain experience with essential concepts in physics like weight, leverage and pressure.

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Do It Yourself

We think all families should be learning outside. Try this activity with your child and begin to see the power in outdoor, play-based learning. Have fun!

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