Some of the first steps a child takes in learning to use his/her hands are scratching, batting and banging. Children are born with a reflexive grasp which they begin to learn to control in a predictable progression that includes the ability to voluntarily open and close their hands, bring the hand to the mouth, scratch, grasp, reach and so forth. Parents may notice their child scratching at blankets or clothes. Later the child may pat or bang objects and people or bat at them. They may do this with their hands and they may also do some of these movements with their feet. Dr. Nielsen designed many different pieces of equipment (perceptualizing aids) to help a child practice these skills. These include Scratch and Position Boards, Little Rooms, Vests, Aprons and Gloves. Here are some expamples of these. 

Scratch, Position and Grab Boards

Scratch Board

Level 1 Scratch



Position Boards - Level 1 Grab and Release

Level 2 Grab and release



Position Board - Level 2 Grasp and Release







Little Room

 Little Rooms

Video of Little Rooms

jack little room

Watch a video of a child in a Little Room.

Vests, Aprons, and Gloves

Activity Vest on left and Velcro Gloves on right.

activity vest front    velcro gloves

Ideas for Home

There are so many things you can do to encourage these movements from your child.  For example, give your child various pots and pans while you are working in the kitchen to explore with their hands or feet.

Place the child on the floor or resonance board and offer a box of various kitchen utensils to explore. Place your child on a blanket outside on the grass and position him/her where one hand or one foot will touch the grass if he/she moves it. Do the same thing in a kiddie pool filled with sand or leaves. You can also make some simple devices that will encourage exploration with hands and feet. Below is an example of an activity using a Bucket and Beads.

Bucket Activity Using Hands

Bucket Activity Using Feet:

There are many other learning environments that you can create to encourage scratching, batting, and banging. Here are just a few.

Rubber Bands on Trays and Buckets

Rubber Bands on Buckets with Water

Scratching on Pots and Pans

Kicking Hanging Cans

Banging Pots and Pans

home hacks collage