Fine Motor Skill Activities that Your Kids Will Enjoy
Almost every parent feels the pressure to make their children write right now. But teaching your child how to write isn’t as easy as putting a pencil in his hand and showing him the alphabet. Children greatly benefit from experiences that support the development of fine motor skills in their hands and fingers.
They should have strength and dexterity before being asked to manipulate a pencil on paper. Working on this first can eliminate the development of an inappropriate pencil grasp. This happens when children get engaged in writing experiences before their hands are really ready. The following activities involve the use of practical life materials that will support your child’s fine motor development and help build the strength and dexterity necessary to hold a pencil appropriately in the future.
All these items can be found either at home or purchase from the dollar store or at Ikea. They have child-size items that will make it easier for the child to handle. These simple practical life activities may seem “easy” for us but it goes a long way with your child. These are indirect preparations that help in the coordination of your child’s movements and development of concentration.
1. Demonstrate how to do these activities next to your child so they can see what you are doing. Usually, you have your child sit first and you sit to the child’s right.
2. Name the objects you will use before you start.
3. Try to use as minimal words as you can and let your movements do the talking.
4. Make sure he/she is watching how you manipulate the items you are using.
5. Your goal is to demonstrate these actions clearly so the child can repeat the activity successfully and independently.
6. These activities aim to develop his/her coordination, concentration, gracefulness, and independence.
7. Repetition is important. If your child wants to do it over and over, encourage him/her to do so. It helps your child master the skill involved and allows your little one to gain more confidence in himself/herself as well.
8. Make sure to watch out for these important skills: concentration, hand-eye coordination, patience, and hand control.
9. Don’t forget to have your child clean up!
10. HAVE FUN!
Now let’s look at some easy activities:
Materials: Tray, 2 identical bowls, spoon/ scooper, grains (in this case, I used expired popcorn)
a. Wrap your three right fingers around the handle and firmly grip the handle.
b. Make sure the child sees you positioning the oval mouth of the spoon in the center of the bowl, so the grains fall into the bowl and not onto the tray.
c. If the grain falls, show the child how to remove the bowls and pinch the grains one at a time and replace into the bowl.
Variation: You can use jars to practice pouring grains, too.
Materials: Tray, 2 identical glass cups, sponge/towel to wipe off the spills, apron
a. Pouring water from the right hand jug into the left-hand jug then from left jug into right jug.
b. A cloth is to be used to wipe the spills.
Pouring Water Variation: You can have different size jars, some may even need a funnel.
SQUEEZING WATER FROM A BASTER:
a. Show your child how to hold the baster by the bulb to draw up the water by squeezing it and releasing the pressure on the bulb.
b. Move the full baster over to the second container and squeeze the water out.
This was a little tricky especially with learning how to manipulate the baster so it took him a few rounds of spills and practice before getting the concept of releasing it after he puts it over the other jar. Micah also realized that it was easier for him after he held the bottle in place by moving it to edge so it wouldn’t move while he squeezed the water out. A towel close by is very handy because this takes a while to get used to. You can use a medicine dropper too. But because of the size of the baster, it makes it easier for their little hands to start with.
(See the smile? He loved this!)
Materials: 2 buckets or 2 different containers (mixing bowls are good for these too)
a. Take the sponge and dip it in the water.
b. WAIT a few seconds for the sponge to absorb the water.
c. Pick it up and move your hands with the sponge over the other container.
d. Squeeze the sponge with both hands over the other container.
We made homemade Jello Play Dough! They smelled so good and I wasn’t too worried if he tried to eat it. (Thank God he didn’t! haha) Squishing, squeezing, stretching and moulding play dough helps to build muscle strength in the fingers and hands.
Providing small items like buttons, sequins, pasta, pebbles and shells with the play dough will also encourage the child to use his/her hands when picking up and placing these objects in the dough. Put out some shape cutters, a grater, blunt plastic knives and tweezers which can all be used to mould and transform the play dough.
In our picture, we used the Melissa and Doug set I found at Ross for $5. Rolling pins foster the development of the precision muscles of the hands. The precision muscles of the hands are the muscles that support the pencil grasp and teaches the child how to adjust the amount of pressure when holding a pencil.
These are just some of the many things that your toddler can do to exercise his/her fine motor skills. Show excitement and delight when your child accomplishes these tasks! Encourage them to continue doing it. As parents, be in the moment and pay full attention to your child. Developing motor skills is the first step to writing without stressing your child and yourself, too!