In-hand manipulation is defined as the ability to hold and move objects with one hand without assistance (help) of the other hand.

In-hand manipulation is an important skill in performing daily activities such as drawing, writing, scissor cutting, eating (using a spoon, fork, and knife), performing personal hygiene, dressing, playing and so on. The child who has difficulties with in-hand manipulation is clumsy, often can’t hold small objects in hand, the activities for which it is common to use only one hand, performs with two hands or use the body as a support. To improve the in-hand manipulation skill you can perform the activities that include below-mentioned categories.

There are three categories of this skill, translation, shift, and rotation.

1. Translation

Translation is ability to move objects from the palm to the fingers (putting coin in a coffee machine or in a piggy bank (Image 1), and move objects from the fingers to the palm (Image 2), eating small dried fruits, taking small candies such as M&M, eating popcorn, etc.

Image 1. Moving the coin from the palm to the fingers
Image 2. Moving the coin from the fingers to the palm

To exercise the activity of translation from the palm to the fingers and vice versa, we need a piggy bank and 10 coins of different sizes (Image 3).

Image 3: Piggy Bank and Coins

Put coins on the table and the child’s task is to take coins one by one of the table and put it into the piggy bank (Image 4).

Image 4. Putting coins into a piggy bank

Now ask your child to take two coins in a way that he holds one coin in the palm (Image 5), and take the other coin and put it in the piggy bank (Image 6).

Image 5. A coin in the palm
Image 6. Putting a coin into a piggy bank

Make sure that the child does not compensate movement! The child can’t pull a coin to the edge of the table, or rely hands on the body while taking coins.

2. Shift

The second category of in-hand manipulation is ability to move an object in a linear manner with the fingertips (taking a pencil from pencil cases and moving it in the position for writing (Image 7), turning the pages of the picture books, playing card games).

Image 7. Moveing the pen in position to write

For this activity, we need one little object (tape, pencil, small toy…) and thick woolen yarn (Image 8). At one end of the thread tie an object (Image 9) and put it on the table so that the free end of the thread is hanging over the edge of the table (Image 10).

Image 8. Tape and wool yarn
Image 9. Preparation
Image 10. The thread over the edge of the table

The child’s task is to pull the thread and to hold it in his palm (Image 11).

Image 11. Pulling the thread

3. Rotation

The rotation is the possibility of turning objects with finger and thumb, with the help of reliance on the middle finger. There are simple rotation, rotate objects with the fingertips for about 90 ° (taking the pen off the table and preparing to write (Image 12), open the bottle, puzzle games, using door key) and a complex rotation, turning objects with the fingertips for more than 180 ° (rotation pencil to use the eraser (Image 13), taking the pen from the pencil stand and prepare for writing, using pastels that have two ends of a different color).

Image 12. A simple rotation: Taking a pen from the table and preparing to write
Image 13. A complex rotation: Turning a pen and using erasers

General activities that affect the development of in-hand manipulation skill:

It is important to encourage the child to perform activities that prefer the use of one hand, and the activities in which a child need to use the thumb and index finger (middle finger if it is necessary).

1. Let the child make a ball of used paper and let him throw it in a basket from a distance of one meter. If it is too easy, ask your child to move away from the basket.

2. Fill a large bowl with marbles, and ask your child to transfer all marbles into another bowl by using only one hand.

3. Let the child buttoning and unbuttoning the buttons and zippers on clothing.

4. Perform the activities in which the children used tweezers to take and move small objects (social game Operation).

5. In a bowl, put a lot of small colored objects such as beads, buttons, ribbons and the like, and let the child sort all objects by color.

6. Let the child open the door with the key.

7. Let your child perform activities of scissor cutting.

8. Let your child play games that use dice (Don’t get angry)

9. Use pencil sharpeners.

10.Performing activities of fine motor skills.

Video - In-hand manipulation