Inclusive Resource on Sensorimotor Child Development for Parents and Teachers

Trigger Toys: Strengthening one Finger at a Time


Good fine motor dexterity requires each finger to get fairly strong and be able to move in several directions with ease.   The perfect motion to strengthen the pointer finger is pulling a trigger.  This posed a big problem for me.  I did not allow my own children to play with guns (OK so my boys constructed them with DUPLO’s LEGO’s and sticks and pretended they were something else when I asked…).  I have carried this principle to my practice and never included toy guns when working with children.

“Trigger Toys” like the tiger pictured, is the perfect solution!  This toy has a captivating cause effect action: squeezing the lever with the thumb or pointer finger closes the tiger’s mouth.

  • For a sensitive child,  the tiger can be a pretend friend; pressing the trigger makes the tiger talk.
  • For a child needing to act out some aggressive feelings, the tiger can roar and chomp away.


  • Strengthens the thumb and index finger muscles
  •  Cause and effect action reinforces continuous play, thereby increasing overall hand dexterity endurance
  • Improves visual attention
  • Great toy for imaginary play
  • By adding a “retrieving demand” the game turns into a great eye hand motor coordination and motor planning challenge!


The photos above and below illustrate the two ways to hold this toy correctly.   It is important to have the thumb wrap around the base so the index needs to stretch a bit to reach the trigger.  The other fingers also need to be at the base or they will block the action of the trigger.

By turning the tiger towards the child, the thumb can be placed on top of the trigger and pull down.  This exercises the thumb and facilitates isolated movement of the thumb tip.

You can build motor planning and eye hand skills by engaging in a game of “retrieving” objects:


You can find similar toys at stores and online.  I like this one because the action is close to the lever.  Some toys have the trigger but there is a large stick attached and the feedback loop is not as direct.





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