My favourite pipe cleaner activity for encouraging fine motor skill development is creating characters with play dough and adding hair with pipe cleaners and beads, or tooth picks and beads.
Why is this play dough and pipe cleaner activity important?
The main elements for pincer grip are to use the thumb, first finger, and second finger to grasp small objects such as a pencil, bead, or button. For the first three fingers to be able to maintain a pincer grip, the fourth and fifth fingers need to stay clenched and out of the way of the fingers that need to be squeezing the object.
Making playdough monsters uses pincer grip and hand strength to create the monsters body. Then adding beads on to pipe cleaners for the monsters hair uses the skills of pincer grip and bilateral coordination.