Spell with Alphabet Beads and Build Fine Motor Skills

Spelling with alphabet beads for kindergartenI 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.

  1. 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. spelling with alphabet beads 2
  2. Pop the stickers on . Cut the pipe cleaners into small sections.Tape on . Give the tape a good rub to make sure it sticks. spelling with alphabet beads
  3. If you want pop on the first letter to get your kids started. alphabet bead spelling 4
  4. Separate out the letters needed to complete the words and then add in a bunch of random ones. alphabet bead spelling stuff
  5. 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.fine motor spelling activity for kindergarten

For more simple learning activities to do with your school age kids after school check out our whole Learning After School series.

Playdough Animals

playdough animals easy kid activityI 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!

  1. 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.playdough animals 2
  2. Start by choosing a color of playdough and pressing it down flat.playdough animals
  3. Choose a cookie cutter and cut out. playdough activity for kids
  4. Start decorating. playdough animals 7I 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. playdough animals 8He quickly discovered that the beads made cool prints and that he could make it look like scales and fur. playdough animals 10
  5. After she was done her butterfly my daughter found our plastic scissors and joined us at the table to do some playdough cutting.playdough animals 5
  6. My son just kept creating. playdough animals 22He couldn’t wait to show his dad what he made and his new techniques when he got home from work. playdough animals

Fine Motor Skills Challenge ( and some math)

fine motor cover 3My 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.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some wine corks or rectangular blocks and many elastic bands. fine motor skills building exercise
  2. Wrap the bands around the corks. Wrap a different number of bands around each. Make some tight and other looser. fine motor skills building activity for kids
  3. 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. fine motor cork and rubber bands
  4. 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. fine motor cork and elastic bands exercise
  5. Repeat with the other corks.  fine motor corks and elasticsThis 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.  fine motor skill building

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.

Q-Tip Painted Easter Eggs {Fine Motor & Art}

q-tip painted easter egg fine motor craft for toddlersTime 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.

  1. 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. q-tip easter egg painting for kids
  2. Start by cutting out your eggs.q-tip easter egg craft
  3. Next pour some paint in your tray. Talk about the colors. Add white to each color and have your child mix the paint. q-tip easter egg painting craft for kidsWhat 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.q-tip easter egg for preschool
  4. 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. qtip painting for easter
  5. Time to paint. q-tip painting for easterThis 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.easter egg craft for kids fine motor
  6. She explored with dots and stripes.qtip Easter egg craft for toddlers
  7. 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.q-tip easter egg fine motor

 

For more about fine motor check out this Google+ Spring Into Education chat ( you might recognize a face or two)

Simple Heart Craft for Toddlers

simple valentine's day craft for toddlersThis is one of my favorite classic Valentine’s Day Crafts for little kids and toddlers. It’s simple for toddlers , fun for older kids and is gorgeous no matter how you do it. I also love that working with eye droppers requires some great fine motor and coordination skills so it’s more than just a pretty craft !

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some coffee filters ( 2 per heart) , ribbon, markers, double stick tape, scissors ( ours are pinking shears) , eye dropper, water, dish, something to protect your table and something absorbent like paper towels or a old cloth towel.toddler valentines day craft
  2. Start by cutting your coffee filters but folding them. toddler valentines day craft bI love using pinking shears because they make it that much prettier.toddler craft for valentines day
  3. Time to color. My daughter did dots but go wild any design will work. Make sure kids know that their designs will change.toddler craft for valentines day s
  4. My daughter colored a bunch .toddler heart craft for valentines day She was just in that sort of mood. Usually toddlers are quick to be done so if your child does 3 dots and declares they are done do not fret. That happens here all the time too. A trick to make many of these when attention spans are still on the short side is to not separate the filters keeping 2-4 all in a pile and coloring those. The color will bleed through . Another way to extend the activity without forcing is to offer a new color of marker as the interest starts decreasing.toddler heart craft
  5. Add water! toddler heart craft for valentines dayTalk about it spreading and the water mixing with the color and how the dry filter absorbs it like a towel absorbs the water on their body after a bath. Using every day references to learn new words and explain new experiences is a great tool for learning.toddler hearts craft
  6. Let dry .
  7. Choose pairs. You can even sneak in some simple math ” Can you find 2 hearts?” She was gleefully helpful with this. You can’t tell from the pictures but she was actually really taking her time making pairs. I was fascinated in a way only parents can be fascinated with their own kids ;) toddler heart craft 55
  8. Add tape and ribbon.toddler heart craft for kids
  9. Sandwich together and repeat.  Find the right place to hang them to add a little love to your home. Ours are in the window that faces the driveway and every time I drive home they are the first things we see from the car.toddlers heart craft for kids