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Tips for Tongs

We are frequently asked by parents which tongs they should purchase for their child. Below you will find some of our favorite tongs from least challenging to most challenging. Each of the tongs is good for overall hand strengthening; fine motor coordination, and improving pre-writing and pre-scissors skills by eliciting/strengthening a static or dynamic tripod grasp. These products can be purchased from therapy websites, such as or

Strawberry picker:

The small size of these tongs is ideal for you child’s small hands. The circles at the tip are natural indicators for finger placement (one for the thumb and one for the index finger). To visually highlight where your child’s fingers should be, you can also place stickers in the circles.

These strawberry pickers are particularly helpful for strengthening the web space of the hand (the space between the thumb and index finger). Maintaining an open, rounded web space is an important component to proper pencil grasp.

Metal tongs:

The medium-sized length of these tongs makes them a good intermediary between the small size of the strawberry pickers and the tall length of the Zoo sticks. These require more hand and finger strength to use for picking up and placing small objects. Keep an eye on your child’s wrist. The wrist should be slightly extended to achieve the most functional grasp, an important component to a proper crayon/pencil grasp.

Zoo Sticks:

Zoo sticks are incredibly appealing and motivating to children. They are more challenging to control because of their length and the added weight of the animal at the top. Place a piece of colored tape around the bottom of the Zoo Sticks to indicate where your child should grasp them. Zoo Sticks are particularly great for snack time. Have your child use them to eat small pieces of food such as cereal, mini cookies, mini crackers, diced fruits or vegetables.


The plunger is a unique tool. When you push the top (the red part), 3 wire legs pop out to pick up objects. The wires are fairly thin, so using an appropriate degree of pressure is essential. The plunger is especially helpful to strengthen the thumb and maintain an open web space.

Suggested items that your child can pick up using any tongs:

  • Mini dice

  • Pom-poms

  • Marbles

  • Mini erasers

  • Cheerios

  • Beads

  • Pegs

  • Screws

Written by: Aviva Goldwasser, MS, OTR and Chaye Lamm Warburg, DPS, Director of POTS

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