It was about this time last year when we realised Zoe’s fine motor control wasn’t the greatest.
Fine motor development is about all the little, ‘fine’ movements we do with our muscles. Usually related to the use of our hands and fingers but it is also about eye-hand co-ordination and use of other small muscles such as the tongue and lips when we speak and eye-foot co-ordination.
In Zoe’s case it was all to do with her fingers and getting them to do what she wanted when she wanted. More specifically her pencil grasp was all backwards and up-side down and it frustrated her. Usually this stuff sorts itself out with little effort while kids play which is exactly what happened for Zoe. Now, at five and a half, she holds a pencil perfectly, writes with control and is much less frustrated by the whole thing.
So here are our ten favourite fine motor activities.
Just playing with the dough, rolling balls, making snakes, squeezing and pinching is excellent for developing small muscle strength and control, but you can extend it even more by offering utensils such as scissors, knives etc, or even adding texture with fine gravel or coarse glitter.
My girls can’t get enough of drawing. With crayons, pastels, pencils, markers, pens, charcoal… so many great things to draw with. Choose fatter pencils and markers for smaller hands or those having trouble. Triangular shaped pencils/markers can also help refine a wonky pencil grasp.
For a younger child offer large beads, buttons or cotton reels with large holes or smaller ‘pony beads’ for the the older child. Using a rigid plastic ‘string’ is easier and less frustrating. You can even make your own ‘beads’ from rolled paper and a little glue.
Construction sets such as duplo, lego, mobilo, magnetix etc are all fabulous for fine motor development. Small wooden blocks also encourage dexterity and manipulation.
Cotton Bud Painting.
Painting with cotton buds or small fine brushes encourages smaller more refined movements. Water colour paints work fabulously for this.
The simple task of sliding the paper between the bits of a hole punch and punching is surprisingly difficult. Our girls love the small craft punches that cut out different shapes. We bought ours on special at Big W.
This is a favourite activity for the Small Boy as well… He is colour obsessed right now and will sit for minutes telling me the colour of each peg as he pops it in.
You know those large plastic tweezers you can get? The kind that come in sterile dressing packs are perfect. Grab a few and a tub of various items – small pieces of paper and card, small plastic containers, buttons, bits of string, bits of fabric, anything really – and let the kids use the tweezers to move them from one container to another. Hours of fun!
Cutting and Pasting.
Can my girls ever get enough of snip snipping with scissors and gluing with glue sticks?? Beginning cutters offer rolled out playdough and then more rigid card or heavy weight paper till they get the scissor hand right.
Sand play (try writing in the sand with your fingers, or making drip castles), water play (pouring and measuring), slime (lux flakes mixed with warm water and beaten with and old fashioned hand mixer) and good old fashioned finger paint (corn flour and water cooked till it goes opaque then add colour) are all fab for fine motor skills.