Pick up, transfer, release. It's harder than it seems especially for smaller hands and low tone.
Using tongs is one way to practice opening and closing the hand with the same motion used in cutting with scissors. This can also strengthen the hands for handwriting later on.
We use cheap plastic tongs with rubber-coated ends from the Dollar store and more expensive metal tongs from the bar supplies section at the grocery store.
The kids like to pick up small toys with them. Sometimes I make it a "pick up the color or shape game" using the foam shapes I made. Matthew concentrates and tries very hard. The rubber ends on the plastic tongs help provide gripping power to make the task more do-able. Elizabeth watches and then decides that poking the foam shapes with the metal tongs.
Doing a more meaningful activity is a more efficient way for Matthew to practice using tongs. He likes pickles. So I have him try to get pickles from the pickle jar and put them on a plate. It takes him a while but he can do it.
Big motivator + More persistence = More practice
Thankfully, he finds the challenge interesting enough to keep his attention and has not resorted to dumping the whole jar of pickles on the plate or reaching into the jar with his hand. Of course, if he's struggling with it too much and it's taking longer than he would like to get a pickle, then I help him hand over hand.
What's next? Chopsticks?
Note: Matthew has not developed a dominant hand yet. He uses his left more but he can still use his right. His occupational therapist (OT) at school has noted that he is showing a more mature grasp with his left hand. Nevertheless, we still offer objects to him at midline (center of his body) so we leave it up to him to choose which hand to use. This is done in the interest of not influencing handedness. It is up to him (his brain) to determine which side will become the dominant side, not up to us to influence.
Here is a short-list of some games with tongs/ tweezers:
Patch Bedbugs by Patch
Wok and Roll by I-Play
Avalanche Fruit Stand by Learning Resources
Operation by Hasbro