When your child is small is the perfect time to introduce fun activities that help improve fine motor skills. I’ve been trying to get my two-year-old twins and my five-year-old involved in building better fine motor skills now, so that we don’t face occupational therapy down the line. I wish I had known how much more we could have been doing with Anna!
At the most basic level, you can help improve fine motor skills in the preschool years by having your children “work” with their hands. Theraputty is an excellent strength builder if they get tired quickly when doing “hand work.” Anything that requires your child to pinch, grab, aim placement, or manipulate small items is going to be awesome for fine motor skills!
I’d like to encourage you to use what you have, or purchase your supplies cheaply at a dollar store. You don’t need much for these three activities – just some pom poms (or cotton balls), chenille stems, plastic tongs, and a storage container of some kind, clothespins, stickers, construction paper, an empty gallon jug and a strainer from your kitchen. That’s it! I’m guessing you might even have the stuff you need already in your house!
Attention: Please do not leave small children unattended with glass jars or small parts. Thank you.
Fine Motor Skills Activity One
For the first activity, you will encourage your children to drop pom pom balls into a narrow opening using tongs. We used a glass jar, but an old mayonnaise or peanut butter jar would be awesome! I’m just not organized enough to realize I need to save those things.
I got Anna (my eight-year-old) involved with this by asking her to demonstrate to the twins the concept “one at a time.” She had a lot of fun teaching them how to pick up each of the pom poms one by one and place them carefully into the jar. All the while, she was doing therapy without knowing it.
Recently during an occupational therapist session, Anna suddenly announced “This feels an awful lot like school.” She made her therapist and I laugh.
Somewhere I have a smaller set of tongs which would probably work better with this size of pom pom balls. I am going to get some larger pom pom balls as well.
To keep your children interested in this kind of activity, make it something they are only allowed to play with once or twice a week!
Fine Motor Skills Activity Two
For the second activity, you will ask your child to place and remove chenille stems from the openings in a pasta strainer. I needed to cook supper last night, so I had my ten-year-old son do this fine motor skill builder with my twins. I gave him a pack of chenille stems, a strainer, and showed him how to get them sticking chenille stems into the strainer. Then he made up a bunch of ways to play, like sorting the stems by color, putting one of each color in, making a rainbow strainer, pretending to give the strainer a haircut etc. He did a great job, the twins had a blast and increased their muscle coordination, and I got to make supper in peace. Amazing!
Fine Motor Skills Activity Three
For the third activity, you will have your child drop clothespins into a milk jug. Then the child can shake the milk jug to remove the clothespins over and over again.
Fine Motor Skills Activity Four
For the fourth activity, have your child remove a single sticker from a sheet of stickers and place it on construction paper or printer paper. This action is not necessarily easy for children – but don’t be tempted to do it for them! You are encouraging them to pinch their fingers together with purpose. It’s a great skill!
Whenever you are working with a child to improve fine motor skills, it is very important that you always let them complete the task. Don’t jump in and do it for them! This defeats the purpose!
Fine motor skills are essential for continuing education and life – from eating with a fork to working on an assembly line, to typing at a keyboard. Focusing on improving fine motor skills in the preschool years will prevent your child many struggles once he/she starts elementary school.