Step #1: Buy yourself a cold, delicious drink. Enjoy!
Step #2: Reuse your Starbucks beverage cup (or any plastic cup with a lid) to create a playful, fine motor activity that I like to call, “Mr. Mouth!”
All you need is a plastic cup with a lid, scissors, a permanent marker and perhaps some glue and googly eyes (fun, but not a necessity). You’re going to create a face by drawing on the lid and cutting a slit for the mouth. Some cups already have a spout on the lid so this can also be the mouth.
Pro Tip: It’s helpful to outline the slit or spout with a black permanent marker to make it easier to see, especially support visual contrast and motor planning.
How to Play
Next, find some small items such as Q-Tips, cotton balls, coins, popsicle sticks or cut up straws to “feed Mr. Mouth”. Kids always seem to be amused if you make a “nom, nom, nom” sound or say in a silly voice, “I’m still hungry” while pretending Mr. Mouth is eating the items. It’s also a fun way to reinforce them to put more items into the slot.
Place items on both sides of the cup. Does your child cross midline and use a preferred hand to put items into the slot? Or do they use both hands equally? Toddlers and preschool kids may use both hands if hand dominance is not yet established. ** Note: Always use careful, adult supervision and be aware of any choking hazards when using small items.
Why this activity is beneficial
This activity addresses the following important fine motor, dexterity skills and pretend play skills. Plus, reusing then recycling helps keep the earth healthy!
Two hand use: Practice taking the lid on and off. This is important practice for being able to open containers independently to get a snack for example. Notice whether your child can hold the cup with one hand while picking up the small items with the other hand.
Precision control: Use a pincer grasp to pick up items using only the thumb and index fingertip.
Crossing midline: Lay out items in an arc or a rainbow shape with the cup in the center. Encourage your child to use one hand to pick up the items, reaching across to the other side of his/her body. This supports “laterality” and establishing hand dominance.
Increase the challenge: For older children, start with small items or coins in the palm of the hand. Without using the help of the other hand, move the items from the palm of the hand to the fingertips to put the coins into the slot. This is called palm to finger translation.