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Mature and refined grasp patterns, as well as in hand manipulation, require use of the small finger muscles, and they use the two sides of the hands separately. It can be challenging learning how to coordinate the pinky finger side of the hand separately from the index finger side of the hand.  Similar movements are used with chopsticks as are used in writing with a mature dynamic grasp.

chopsticks to refine fine motor skills

Many therapists recommend using tongs or tweezers to work on fine motor skills, and this is good if the person is starting with really poor fine motor skills. If the client has fairly good fine motor, but still has trouble with the higher level skills, real chopsticks will work those muscles.

Real chopsticks may be too hard though, and many of the training chopsticks are too much like tongs so they don’t work the super-fine muscle control. I found some awesome training chopsticks that use similar muscles as regular chopsticks. They work on a sliding lever so the movement is close to the real thing. They are called edison training chopsticks.

refine coordination with chopsticks

I also made some training ones of my own. They are a little harder to use than the Edison ones, but have a similar concept. Mine are made with chopsticks, a rubber band, and a cut piece of drinking straw.

chopsticks 5web2 chopsticks 6web2

I think that Mancala may be a good game to play with chopsticks, and I have played the game using pom poms so that the pieces could be picked up individually.  For different manipulative ideas I have a whole post on things that you can use.

I read an article which indicated that children from Asian countries develop more mature fine motor skills earlier in their lives because they use chopsticks.



  • Fine motor
  • In hand manipulation
  • Hand strengthening

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Tonya is a pediatric Occupational Therapist, and loves creating things to work on skills and solve problems.

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  1. Hi tonya im also a pediatric occupational therapist & love ur great simple ideas on this newsletter.Thanx a lot.These activities are very helpful to our indian kids

  2. Hi Tonya,
    My child has mild cp. He goes to regular school. He is above average child but has poor handwriting skills. So suggest some exercises to improve his handwriting and speed of writing.

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