As an adult, fine motor skills are taken almost completely for granted, but we didn’t happen upon them by accident – we had to learn them while we were developing. Guidance and encouragement, along with the use of age-appropriate learning devices, can make the development of fine motor skills a pleasure that your little ones can share with you.
This article will aim to provide you with all the tools and ideas you need to ensure that your kids master this key stage of their developmental journey.
Why Are Fine Motor Skills Important?
Apart from the practical things, such as allowing your kids to build up muscle strength and stamina for handwriting and other everyday activities, fine motor skill development is crucial for building confidence and self-esteem. It’s been shown that children who fall behind in this crucial area may struggle academically and become frustrated with their perceived weaknesses.
Let’s take a look at how we can provide enjoyable challenges that build skill, strength and confidence.
Get Out Your Craft Box!
Most kids love to create things, and if there’s a chance to make some mess along the way, well, that’s even better!
Crafting offers so many opportunities for developing fine motor skills that it should be relatively easy to find a number of tasks that your little one will happily engage with. Remember to make all of these activities age-appropriate to prevent both accidents and frustration.
Here are some fantastic and fun ideas to suit a range of ages and abilities – why not try some of these out during your next ‘family time’? You may even end up with some new art for the wall, along with some newly developed skills for the kids!
- A Paper Plate Sun – When the rain is falling and the sun is hiding, you and your kids can create your own! You’ll need a plain paper plate, some orange and yellow crepe paper, red or orange card, glue and scissors. Have your little one rip off small pieces of different coloured crepe paper and glue to the face of the plate, then cut flame shapes out of the card that can be glued to the back edge to give the sun some texture.
- Card Making – This activity has the potential to develop a number of fine motor skills because the card needs to be cut and folded accurately. Think about using beads, coloured paper, lengths of string, coloured pipe cleaners, or even leaves and twigs from the garden to create your cards. It’s also a perfect opportunity to practice and develop handwriting skills – bonus!
- Washing On The Line – Depending on the skill level of your child, you can either encourage them to draw items of clothing and cut them out, or do the drawing yourself. Once you have a selection of ‘clothes’, colour them in and hang them on a length of string using tiny wooden pegs. This activity develops cutting skills and fine motor skills when pegging the paper clothes to the line.
- Sorting And Classifying – Sorting buttons and beads into colours, shapes and sizes draws on many skills – especially if the beads are small. This activity also helps to teach the concept of keeping things neat and tidy so they’re easier to find and use. You can also provide some thick thread and a blunt-ended darning needle, and get them to thread the beads and buttons onto strings in their selected colour or shape groups.
Play-Doh And Building Bricks
Both Play-Doh and building bricks are engaging activities that are highly effective for developing muscle strength and control – as well as being enormously creative fun. Play-doh is pliable but requires hand and arm strength to manipulate effectively, whereas building bricks like Duplo and Lego are deceptively tricky to build and pull apart. Both of these toys help to teach your children about applying torques and pressures to achieve their aims, and sculpting and placing the materials will help with both their fine motor skills and hand to eye coordination.
Playing Shop And Using Coins
As well as helping your kids to understand how money works, playing shopkeeper is an excellent motor skill development tool. Help your little ones set-up a ‘shop’ with items or varying shapes and sizes they find around the house, and using real coins take turns being shopkeeper and customer.
You can also use coins to play stacking games or practice putting money into and out of a piggy bank or lockable box.
Puzzles And Games
Like many activities we talk about in this article, puzzles offer much more than fine motor skill practice – they develop cognitive skills, hand-eye coordination and problem-solving ability too. Choose wooden puzzles for younger kids and more complex jigsaw puzzles or things like a Rubik’s Cube as they grow older.
Outdoor Activities For Developing Fine Motor Skills
Working on fine motor skills in the fresh air has obvious benefits for both of you, but what activities are suitable? We recommend some of the following:
- Painting The Path – Use washable non-toxic paint or make your own with food colouring, cornflour and water and let your kids go crazy, unleashing their creativity so they’re learning skills for life without even knowing! You could hone their painting talents by drawing objects in chalk for them to fill in. Encourage them to try and keep their strokes within the lines, but don’t push them too hard – it’s supposed to be fun!
- Playing With Sand – A sandpit offers many opportunities for your children to develop their skills and build up small and large muscle strength. Suggest building projects in the sand that require them to be creative and engage all of their muscles in a fun way, and offer shell, buttons and beads for decorating sandcastles or other sculptures as a more ‘fiddly’ activity for helping them to control their little fingers.
- Gardening – Either create a little garden space exclusively for your kids or allow them to help you in the main garden. Activities like digging, potting seeds, weeding and watering the plants build confidence and skill while also teaching them about the natural world – plus caring for plants is a good lesson in taking responsibility for another living thing.
Here at Kiddit, we believe that there are plenty of opportunities in day-to-day life that you can use as ways to help your children develop their fine motor skills – and our guide is really just a start to the great ideas you can come up with! By incorporating small and suitable challenges into normal activities, children can learn and have fun all at the same time. Involving yourself with your kids will also create memories that you’ll look back on fondly, as well as building self-esteem and confidence that your children will draw upon as they successfully move through life.