- Jars and bottles (Any size jar or bottle—with screw-on caps or lids—will work for this activity. I've used empty spice jars, coffee creamer jars, water bottles, soft-drink bottles, milk bottles, jelly jars and salsa jars.)
Note: Small parts pose a choking hazard and are not appropriate for children age five or under. Be sure to choose lesson materials that you feel are safe for your child and that you are comfortable letting your child use.
Do you always have to open your child's water bottle? As a young mother, I found myself opening water bottles without thinking before handing them to my children. But it's better to teach children this skill before school starts because teachers don't have time to open 22 water bottles!
This is a task that seems simple. But it requires eye-hand coordination, fine-motor skills, concentration and patience. All 10 fingers must work together to accomplish this task.
This activity also helps to develop a child’s "pincer grip." As children twist off the jar lids, they rotate their hands and coordinate the movements of their wrists, fingers and palms, which strengthens all of the muscles needed to hold a crayon or a pencil.
At the outset, keep it simple and practice with the lids on one, or maybe two, different jars or bottles. Empty spice jars work very well for this stage of skill mastery. These smaller jars are the perfect size for little hands and usually twist off without too much effort. Small coffee creamer jars with lids, Gatorade bottles and small jam jars also work well for this activity.
Once a child has mastered the "twist," I like to place an assortment of jars, bottles and lids in a basket or a bottom kitchen drawer and encourage children to match the lids up with the containers. Children will build early math skills as they "match" the lids to the containers by comparing attributes. They will also build fine-motor skills and hand strength as they screw the lids onto the matching containers. An added bonus: This activity will keep them busy long enough for you to set up the next classroom activity, tackle a household chore or get dinner on the table!
Be sure to practice this game with the water bottle that your child will eventually take to school. During that first month of kindergarten, there are a lot of new routines to learn. We don't want a water bottle to create more stress in a child's day. Independent children can focus on the bigger tasks at hand!