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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.
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.