Fine Motor Activities
This is not something I thought up at all. This idea has been around for ages but when my husband had to run to Home Depot for something else I asked him to grab us some nuts and bolts. If you are a regular reader you may know that I am forever trying to get my son to work on his fine motor skills. The way I approach this is to mix them with a task he really likes and excels at. For him that is anything language related like reading or spelling. There are way fancier tutorials out there but I am a busy mom so I needed to make this activity quickly . It’s bare bones but it works.
- Gather your materials. You will need bolts, nuts and a sharpie. A fine tip one would be best but mine was dried out and I’d already told my son we were doing a project so I used my huge one. Also my nuts and bolts are matte not glossy which makes the sharpie stay on better. Please test yours out to make sure it adheres before playing.
- Write out simple CVC ( consonant vowel consonant) words on the end of the bolt. We did cat, rug, tub, top, jar and bug. This could easily be adapted for younger children by writing uppercase letters on the bolt and matching lowercase ones on the bolts.
- Write the letters on the bolt. You can chose to only use a handful of bolts and make your child take them off one bolt to use on another word or make multiple copies of the same letter on different nuts. I decided only one copy of each letter because I was trying my hardest to get my son to work his fingers putting the nuts on and off.
- Invite your word builder and go for it. The first thing he said to me was ‘ How about we do this together. I will do the spelling, find the letters and you can screw them on. ” Nice try buddy. No. Don’t forget to put the letters on right side up. You must pay attention to which way they are on or your bug will look like bng … my son had to unscrew , flip it and screw it back on.
- Soon he had the hang of it and I felt good knowing he was working on his fine motor skills. He told me the words were too easy so I am going to get longer bolts and give him a bigger challenge soon.
After he was done his sister decided she wanted to try. This was really tricky ( near impossible) for her which means you will see some preschool fine motor posts in the near future! If you want to see more check this round up of fine motor activities out.
I think I have shared how much my son loathes drawing . He’s a bright kid and most things come easy to him so when something doesn’t he like many of us tries to avoid it instead of attacking it. When a child has trouble with penmanship or drawing one of the first things I would suggest is to find low stress ways to get them to draw and write more ( like playing with an easel , make your own mini chalk boards or design your own cards ) and the other is to work on their fine motor skill development. Building with Lego and squeezing Play-Doh are two of our favorites but when I was sent these alphabet beads from craftprojectideas.com I knew I could mix spelling (something he loves) with developing his fine motor skills ( not as much fun as spelling for him). Here is what we did.
- Gather your materials. You could make a printable with clip art but I just grabbed some stickers because I had 10 minutes to throw this idea together before we had to grab him from the bus stop. You will also need some tape, pipe cleaners and of course alphabet beads.
- Pop the stickers on . Cut the pipe cleaners into small sections.Tape on . Give the tape a good rub to make sure it sticks.
- If you want pop on the first letter to get your kids started.
- Separate out the letters needed to complete the words and then add in a bunch of random ones.
- Add your kiddo and go for it. He had no trouble spelling any of the words but threading the letters on was a little challenging. He had to press hard but not too hard or else the pipe cleaner would buckle. 8 words was exactly the right amount any more and frustration would have set in.
For more simple learning activities to do with your school age kids after school check out our whole Learning After School series.
I love when I set up an activity with one child in mind and the other ends up completely into it. I love the addition of small items to playdough not just for the extra kick of fine motor development ( playdough all by itself is great for it) but also for the extra kick of creativity. My toddler took to this activity very literally decorating her butterfly but my son experimented with decorating as well as using the materials as tools. I love watching the gears turn in their heads!
- Gather your materials. You will need some playdough ( I love the commercial stuff but have some great recipes if you want to make your own) , animal shaped cookie cutters, googley eyes, beads/bits of straws/buttons and other embellishments.
- Start by choosing a color of playdough and pressing it down flat.
- Choose a cookie cutter and cut out.
- Start decorating. I love how a simple googly eye transforms the playdough. My daughter was totally into it but it was my son who surprised me. He was far more focused than I expected him to be. He quickly discovered that the beads made cool prints and that he could make it look like scales and fur.
- After she was done her butterfly my daughter found our plastic scissors and joined us at the table to do some playdough cutting.
- My son just kept creating. He couldn’t wait to show his dad what he made and his new techniques when he got home from work.
My son like many kindergarteners has been focusing a lot on writing this year and while they hone their letter formation they are also working on spelling and punctuation. It’s a lot to coordinate. If the physical task of writing is using up all their concentration the more complex ones just add to the possible frustration . The best thing parents can do is to find ways to build those fine motor skills. This task was NOT easy for my son. What I did with this was to balance it with an element he loves ( math) in order for him to do all 4 corks instead of giving up with the first. Don’t be afraid to make something hard just decide what your goal is. That said had there been a complete refusal I would have adapted it using larger objects.
- Gather your materials. You will need some wine corks or rectangular blocks and many elastic bands.
- Wrap the bands around the corks. Wrap a different number of bands around each. Make some tight and other looser.
- Invite your child to make a prediction about how many rubber bands are on each cork. No need to write it down but if you want to add some writing into the activity by all means grab some paper and a pencil with an eraser.
- Start unwrapping. A lot of things come easy to my son so challenges are not always welcomed. I reminded him not to give up that we needed to find out how many were on these little corks. After getting them off count.
- Repeat with the other corks. This one was wrapped very tightly and he got frustrated initially but oh wait for it… I got a smile out of him too. I slipped in a little chat about how over coming challenges is way more fun that doing a task that is easy to start with.
Other ways to easily build your child’s fine motor skills are to play with play dough, beading or lacing , sewing and needle arts, playing with stickers, and our favorite Lego. Check out more ideas from all over the web on our Fine Motor Pinterest Board.
Time is not in abundance here. It seems like after getting kids where they need to be, food in our fridge, clean clothes and floors there is not as much time as I thought there would be. That is why I love activities like this Easter egg craft that work on developing a skill like fine or gross motor skills as well as teaches a lesson and gives my daughter free reign on how the craft will look. Most arts and craft projects have some fine motor work but using q-tips amps it up when time is short. Creativity, art lesson and fine motor. All in about 8 minutes. Toddlers don’t sit long, they aren’t meant to so don’t force them to. Keep things short sweet and packed full of learning disguised as play.
- Gather your materials. You will need some sturdy paper ( like paper plates), paint ( any colors but you must include white), some containers or tray like an ice cube tray to mix the paint and q tips.
- Start by cutting out your eggs.
- Next pour some paint in your tray. Talk about the colors. Add white to each color and have your child mix the paint. What happened to the color? This is a basic lesson on tints. As kids learn their colors the next step is to see the differentiation and results of color mixing. I love adding white to make lighter tints of the same colors. This is especially great with toddlers who insist on only ever using 1-2 of their favorite colors. Since doing this activity late last week my daughter has been evaluating colors in our house ” Dat light gween Mama, not dark gween.” it’s pretty fun to see her put her new knowledge to work.
- After all the tints have been mixed pour a little more of the original color in an adjacent container or slot in the tray. Make note of the difference. Ask your child which tint of each pair they like the best. As you can see she chose light pink.
- Time to paint. This has no desired result other than exploration. Let your child explore how the q-tip makes marks on their egg. They will naturally be holding the q-tip in a pincer grasp and controlling it will be giving their fine motor skills a good work out.
- She explored with dots and stripes.
- I started making a polka dot one too and after she finished her two eggs she joined me in covering mine with dots. Let dry and if you want use as little Easter cards for loved ones. As soon as her’s were dry she gave them to her brother. Who thankfully was full of praise for her efforts. Kids love giving away their art so if you find yourself drowning in it start sending it to loved ones who will no doubt love it.
For more about fine motor check out this Google+ Spring Into Education chat ( you might recognize a face or two)