6 Activities to Help Develop Those Fine Motor Skills

As young children grow, fine motor skills are an incredibly important part of their development. These skills, which require strength and coordination in the small muscles and tendons in the hand and fingers, are essential to writing letters and numbers and to developing basic life skills like getting dressed. 

For some children, honing these skills can be a challenge.  But the activities below can help turn frustrations into fun – so try them out!

The Wonderful World of Play-Doh

America’s favorite kiddie clay is a great way to foster fine motor skill development.  Children can simply shape the clay by hand, and its resistance helps to strengthen hand muscles.  They can roll, cut, and form it into a variety of shapes. Plus, pairing Play-Doh or other “clay” with simple kitchen tools like a garlic press or cookie cutters not only adds to the fun, it brings another dimension to motor skill development.

Consider adding in objects like pipe cleaners, straws, buttons, pebbles, sea shells, beads, or similar small items to the mix, and have children try to uncover them.  You can also let the kiddos manipulate the clay with items such as plastic fork and knives, kid-safe scissors, spatulas, rolling pins, or other age-appropriate tools.

Jewelry 101

Making necklaces and bracelets is fun at any age.  Let younger kids get into the action with carefully chosen materials that they can learn to manipulate. Get large wooden or plastic beads or use painted pasta (penne works great for this) and yarn.  Tie off one end of the yarn and let them thread their beads to make basic pieces.  The act of picking up the beads and stringing them onto a thread is great for fine motor skill development.

Traditional Art Projects

Whether you’re working on construction paper, paper plates, or other media, basic art projects that involve finger-painting, brush painting, drawing, or coloring all help develop fine motor skills. And the media you work with doesn’t really matter: paint, markers, crayons, colored pencils, or even glitter glue will all help them hone the skills that they will need when they start school.

These basic art projects can change seasonally: you can do holiday art during the winter, emphasize fall colors and leaves during the fall, and flowers in the summer and spring. You can also take these art projects outdoors, letting them decorate your driveway with sidewalk chalk.

Sorting Activities

Sorting games are great for developing both fine motor and pre-math skills as kids begin to differentiate between objects.  You can use any small object you like (balls, beads, pebbles, or small toys) and have them sort them into different bowls or piles by shape or color. They can use their pincer grip to do this or they can manipulate the objects with salad tongs or clothes pins.  You can add challenges by timing them or having them compete against other siblings or friends.

Take it outdoors for a relay race where kids have to take one object at a time and run across the yard to put it into the proper pile.

Construction Activities

Building activities also help strengthen hand and finger muscles.  Give kids access to basic wooden blocks, Legos, or Lincoln Logs and let them free play, making whatever they want. They’ll be honing those fine motor skills along with problem-solving abilities.  Ask them to build a specific object, such as a schoolhouse, and see what they come up with.

Don’t have Legos on hand? No problem.  Go out to into the backyard and let them build a fort out of sticks.  Take them to the lake and let them make a dam or a castle with the stones on the beach.  This is a great way to combine fine motor skill activities with a bit of nature.

Lacing and Sewing

Projects that call for children to thread, sew, or weave through or around an object also really help with fine motor skills.  There are many products out there that get kids lacing and sewing.  Or you can simply cut out a piece of cardboard in the shape of a hollow triangle or a heart, and use a hole puncher along the outer edge. 

Have children wrap colored yarn around the shape so it is covered completely to make a decoration.  You can also make a homemade folder. Stick two pieces of construction paper together, punch out holes along three of their edges, and have the kids sew the two pieces together to form a pouch.

What activities have you found helpful for fine motor skill development?

Tags : play   motor skills   development   preschool   

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