11/22/2021 by Wondertree Kids 0 Comments
Over 20 Simple Fine Motor Activities for Kids to Try at Home
Fine motor skills are an impotant part of development. If your child is struggling with handwriting or other fine motor skills, you can easily start working on those skills at home with these 20+ play-based activities.
Practice makes perfect….right?
It is a tired cliche for so many reasons. Mainly, it's not true. Nobody is perfect. Instead, I prefer the phrase: Practice makes progress. With meaningful practice, we can improve at tasks. The key is to make practice meaningful. We will never be perfect but we can make progress.
This is such an important concept to instill in our children. When we strive for perfection, we will fall short. It can lead to low self-esteem, frustration, and lack of effort. A growth mindset is powerful for adults and children alike.
Practice is important, though. Take basketball, for example. If a player is missing layups, it does not make sense to have them do 100 layups. This is a type of practice, but it is not meaningful. 100 layups with poor form do not help a player learn how to successfully do a layup. Instead, it may cement the bad form even further. It would be more valuable for a coach to closely watch the player attempt a few layups to troubleshoot the problem. Then the problem can be addressed specifically. Once the issue is addressed, the player can build on that success and practice layups with the correct form.
The same is true for fine motor skills. When a child is struggling with handwriting, it is common for them to be given more handwriting practice. It's the "practice makes perfect" mindset. Extra pages of handwriting practice with poor form or underdeveloped skills leads to frustration and fatigue. It can also breed a dislike of writing that follows that child throughout their schooling.
What should be done instead?
The key is to develop foundational fine motor skills. You can read more about this on this post.
There can be additional concerns, such as sensory issues or motor planning concerns. But foundational skills make up the bulk of handwriting skills. By strengthening these foundational skills, a child will find handwriting to be much more efficient and easy.
Keep in mind that developmental age plays a role too. A two-year-old is not ready to hold a pencil correctly and does not have a fully developed hand dominance. Pushing handwriting too soon is not helpful. Writing at an early age is not an indicator of academic success. Check out this and other fine motor milestones here.
How should you address foundational fine motor skills?
If you have been following Wondertree Kids for a while, you probably know what I am about to say...Play!
Play is the best way for children, and all humans, to learn. Play makes people more engaged in the learning process and improves memorization and integration of skills. Check out more play-based learning activities here.
Here are some simple and fun ways to build fine motor skills at home:
Master Muscle Strength
- Clothespin Clip: Write a numbers clothes pins (1-10) and write the same numbers on a paper plate. Clip each clothespin to the matching number on the paper plate.
- Swing on the monkey bars
- Squirt a spray bottle to help water the plants
- Use a hole punch to punch circles out of paper
Concentrate on Crossing the Midline
- Play Hot Potato with only one hand
- Drive cars or trains, especially in a figure 8 pattern
- Sweep a ball with a broom across the room. Make it a race!
- Play Simon Says using crossbody directions (ex: right hand on your left knee)
Boost Bilateral Integration
- Connect and separate Legos or jigsaw puzzles
- Play with playdough - use dough tools, like a rolling pin
- Crumble and tear paper, tissue, etc...
- String beads onto yarn
All about Object Manipulation
- Play a card game (holding cards in one hand)
- Use a cotton swab to paint
- Put coins in a piggy bank
- Put on and take off different types of lids - This is a great activity to entertain your child while you cook dinner
Help with Hand Division
- Count to ten using fingers - Use counting songs while you do this
- Use thumb and index finger to sort colored pom poms
- Sing The Itsy Bitsy Spider with hand motions
- Set up a sensory bin with tweezers to transfer objects
Heighten Hand-Eye Coordination
- Practice rolling, throwing, and catching a ball
- Do connect-the-dot activities
- Play with lacing cards
- Hammer a golf tee into a foam block
Most of the activities overlap between skills and will build several skills at the same time. Some of the individual skills, like hand dominance, are not listed because they do not develop independently of other skills. Finding play-based or natural ways to foster fine motor skills helps children appreciate the task and continue to want to work on the skills.
There are also some amazing products and toys that promote fine motor skills. These make the perfect holiday or birthday gift for your child.
Wooden Shape Sorter from Melissa & Doug - found here
Wooden Play Dough Tool Set - found here
Toddler Busy Board - found here
Fine Motor Tool Set for Science & Sensory Play - found here
Magnet Puzzle Game - found here
Tool Kit for Kids - found here
Follow @wondertreekids on Instagram for more about fine motor development and other child development topics.
I would love to hear about your experience with fine motor activities in your home. Whether it is/was smooth sailing or if it is/was challenging, I would love to hear about your fine motor journey. Drop a comment below your story.