Little Hands, Big Skills
Thursday February 19, 2015see more by christy
My little man is going to be entering kindergarten next year (I can’t believe it!), so kinder prep is definitely on my mind! And as part of kindergarten prep, I am working with him at home to strengthen certain school skills, including his fine motor skills. Today I’d like to share my favorite ways to practice fine motor skills with kids…and I’d love to hear yours!
Play Doh and Clay
For my kiddo, Play Doh and clay means fun. It’s also a great way to have your little ones work with their fingers, learning to shape and mold, while strengthening those their finger and hand muscles. We like to add toy cars, trucks, planes and boats to the Play Doh fun, and my son builds roads, bridges and swimming pools for them. He loves it!
My son is obsessed with Legos. Obsessed doesn’t even begin to cover it! And, I am totally fine with this…because he’s learning to manipulate teeny tiny pieces and fit them together. Especially now, since he’s graduated to the “big kid” Lego sets with those small pieces. He thinks mom is cool, it’s his “free” play time, and he’s practicing fine motor. Check, check, and check!
The Coin Game
One of my favorite teachers recommended this game, and my little guy loves it! Set out a bunch of coins on the table, and have your child practice flipping them over. That may seem like a simple task, but those little fingers have to work extra hard to pinch and grasp the smaller coins to flip them over.
Bonus: If you’re feeling ambitious, you can practice counting the coins, talking about the different denominations and sorting by size or value.
Again, having your child put together puzzles – especially ones with smaller pieces – is another great way for your kiddo to practice picking up small items, critically thinking about where they go, and work carefully to fit them together.
Also a fun (and messy!) way to help your little one practice their fine motor skills. Get smaller paint brushes, put little splurts of paint on a paper plate, and ask your child to paint their picture…I usually take a coloring book page or print something off of the Internet. That way they are trying to carefully stay in the lines. Their first attempt may be one blob of color, and that’s okay!! Have them keep at it, and keep practicing!
This includes drawing shapes and letters on blank pieces of paper, doing worksheets…and even iPad apps when we’re on the go! My son loves tracing letters (and you can get creative here…use pencils, crayons, glitter, Cheerios, etc.), and he also loves tracing lines…think one of those “start here,” and trace to the finish line, worksheets.
My husband also found an app he loaded onto our iPad called, “Little Writer,” which allows a child to trace letters, numbers, shapes and words with their fingers. I’m sure there are tons of apps that could be helpful – check some out!
Cutting Out Shapes
Like I mentioned above, I have my son either trace…or draw…a shape. Then, I ask him to cut it out. And we’re starting with BIG shapes that are easier for him to cut right now. Holding scissors properly is actually pretty difficult at times for little hands and fingers…and I say, the more practice the better.
Daily Name Log
Everyday, I ask my son to write his name three times at home. Just three. I don’t ask him to sit for an hour practicing his letters (let’s be serious – he’s an active 4.5-year-old boy – just getting him to sit still for 10-15 minutes at a time is a victory!). But, I find that even this small investment of time and small investment of practice has made a huge difference. It also gives me the opportunity to see how he is holding his pencil and help correct when needed.
And, here’s what I’m noticing. There are days he whines about writing his name three times…and we battle. And, there are days he wants to write his name 10 times, plus asks to do worksheets and art projects. Progress and baby steps!
Here are some of my favorite fine motor skill activity ideas I got from Pinterest:
And, don’t forget to ask your child’s teacher for ideas – they always have fun and creative ways to help your child practice their fine motor skills!
Do you have any tips or tricks that work for your kids? Please share below!
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