Several people have asked me, “How do you get children involved in fine motor activities?” Fine motor activities are important since they assist with developing skills needed for reading and writing. We do know that most boys tend to prefer large motor play over fine motor play. To encourage getting the children involved in fine motor development, I suggest to teachers to use a variety of different mediums such as paint, finger paints, markers, chalk, and crayons for children to use. Also there are “cool” and fun markers and crayons (ones that can create 3D images-Crayola Crayon makes some). For the children who do not like to see paint on their fingers Crayola Crayon’s magic paints are great. Some children who tend to avoid fine motor activities avoid them because they have decreased fine motor skills, and/or difficulty using both their hands together to perform activities such as cutting or paper tearing, and/or they may have decreased visual spatial perceptual skills. Visual spatial perceptual skills are not eye acuity, how clearly one sees, but rather how the brain interprets the information that it is visually perceiving. This is a subject for another blog.
So how do I get children involved in performing fine motor and the perceptual motor activities
I generally go to the play area they are in and incorporate fine motor activities in their play. For example, if they are playing in the kitchen and are “cooking” I take the cooking activity and hand them jars to add spices/ingredients that they need to open and close. Here they begin to work on isolating different fingers to open flip lids, both hands to unscrew and screw back on lids, rotating the arm and wrist to shake the ingredient, while the other hand holds the bowl/pot. Depending upon what I am trying to achieve in the area of fine and perceptual motor, we may write up a grocery list. We can draw pictures or “write” out or shopping list. If needing ingredients for a cake, draw a circle for eggs, square for milk, rectangle for butter, or we can trace when it’s needed (we can use the Traceables or other tracing shapes).
If the child is playing in the car area, I do a similar change of events. I first ask to join in and drive my car around. I encourage expanding upon their play by building a road and/or a garage. We may get the paper and crayons to draw a pond and either tear the paper or cut out a pond. If we are in the farm area we may make ponds or animal feed.
Another way to encourage fine motor activities is to incorporate fine motor activities in relation to the classroom theme. For example if you are doing a winter theme and the book you are reading during circle time is about a snowman, your activities may center on snow and a snowman. In your texture table you may have pretend snow (dried instant potatoes make nice, safe snow, or you may use the Insta-Snow). They can use small plastic shovels and pails to shovel the snow or with the Insta-Snow make snowman or snow animals. At the play-dough table they can roll the dough and build a snowman and at the art table they can draw or cut out a snowman. If the child needs assistance, you may use the Cuttables and Traceables to assist with developing these skills. You can have pre-made facial features, a scarf and boots they can add. Incorporating activities such as these not only develops fine motor coordination for using 1- and 2-handed activities, but perceptual motor, cognitive and language skills as well.