As my children get older, it’s easy to forget about the importance of things like fine motor skills and they really are important stages for development. So we asked expert Laura Clifford to step in with some brilliant and fun ideas to keep them amused while practicing what she called fine motor skills mania. I hope you have fun doing these activities, especially the threading one. I’m going to give it a go right now!
Motor skills are a major part of child development. Gross motor skills = running, jumping, skipping, i.e. large movements. Fine motor skills = threading, writing, picking up objects, i.e. small more delicate movements. You can do so much to develop fine motor skills at home, which in turn will really help pencil control and the physical ability to pick up a pencil and write.
There are endless fun activities to try out and below I recommend a few of my favourite, as well as the most popular ones I’ve tried and tested. There are many commercial educational games and activities that focus on fine motor skill development which are fantastic, but below are the homemade thrifty options!
Threading: make pasta/button/cheerio/leaf/bead necklaces, bracelets and towers. Experiment with different size threading objects. Top tip: try having a cheerio tower making race- a complete winner with the boys!
Cutting: Scissors – invest in some child friendly scissors, put out old newspaper, magazines, cereal boxes, loo rolls, playdough or anything you don’t mind being cut into a million pieces! As their skills improve you can give them simple shapes or objects to cut out so they learn to follow a direction. Knives – again encourage the use of a knife both at mealtimes and in play. Use a child safe knife to cut playdough, cookie dough, butter, sand, modelling clay, blue tack, mud pies, but please don’t forget to talk about the safety of using a knife.
Picking and Placing: using fingers or jumbo tweezers (available on Amazon) pick up beads, small stones, leaves, cotton wool balls, buttons, dried pulses or anything small. Experiment with a variety of placing containers, e.g. cups, bowls, egg boxes, egg cups, ice cube trays. Top tip: many weaning pots come on plastic trays, which make brilliant sorting and placing trays!
Yellow pen: a super tip I picked up whilst working with little people. Use yellow pen or even better yellow colouring pencil (feel the pencil groove) to write names, words or patterns. Your child then has the satisfaction of copying over the yellow with a writing pencil or coloured felt tip, which not only is a skill in itself, but also it allows them to see their ‘own’ writing, which you just don’t get with following dots or dashes.
Construction: building, connecting and destroying all aid motor control. Here are the alternative options to the bought construction sets. Junk modelling, loo/kitchen towel roll towers, plastic crockery and cutlery animals, stick figures and making leaf pictures. Top tip: marshmallows and spaghetti are great fun as constructing materials!
I hope you enjoy having some fun with these suggestions.