Inclusive Resource on Sensorimotor Child Development for Parents and Teachers

Hand Strengthening Art Work


I am very lucky to be able to visit many extraordinary early childhood programs.  I am always collecting new ideas from the talented educators I meet along the way.  On one of my visits to The Children’s School in Stamford, CT, the art teacher dazzled me with this amazing project!

This beautiful creation builds muscle strength in the hands and fingers. It is also a visually satisfying creation.  All ages can participate in this activity!


  • Holding the cup with the fingers all spread apart strengthen the thumb muscles and deep muscles in the hand that play a key role in the dexterity required for moving a pencil for writing and drawing
  • motor sequence occurs as the child dips, places the cup on the paper and repeats this
  • Eye-hand motor coordination occurs as the child plans where to place the cup. The dramatic colors draw the child’s eyes to the paper
  • Matching colors-correct plate for the paint covered cup
  • Planning a design may occur.
  • It’s fun!


Materials Needed:
  • Plastic or paper cups of various sizes (small-e.g. dixie cups for little 2-3 year old hands)
  • Recycled jars/cans can also be used!
  • Any typical paint for children
  • Paper (black construction paper shown)
  • Plates to hold the paint
Recommended:  Cover over the work space with newspaper, brown grocery bags or plastic.


1.  Instruct the child to turn the cup upside down and dip the rim into the paint.  Fingers should spread across the bottom of the cup for a firm grasp.
2.  Place the paint covered rim firmly on the paper to make the ring.  Repeat desired amount of times with each color chosen. The cup should be re-dipped for each new ring.
3.  Be sure to instruct the child to keep the cups on the designated color plate so the colors do not run and blend. (E.g. blue cup with blue paint, red with red, etc.).


Special Considerations:
Holiday Idea: Use red and blue paint on white paper for a patriotic twist…  Red and greens for Christmas… blue and white for Hanukkah… etc.
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