Fine motor skills are small muscle movements of the fingers in coordination with the eyes. We need to develop the strength and dexterity of these small muscles to enable your child to hold a pencil confidently, manipulate a computer or tablet or even play a musical instrument.
You can encourage your child to develop these skills through your everyday activities, such as, doing buttons and zips when getting dressed, setting the table and pouring juice.
Fine motor skills can also be developed through play. Here are some suggestions for learning through play at home:
Playdough is great for developing fine motor skills. You can roll, smooth, pat, pound and squeeze. Tools like lollysticks, stamps, rolling pins, extruders and cutters.
- For a make at home playdough recipe to make together and some play ideas see: https://theimaginationtree.com/best-ever-no-cook-play-dough-recipe/
- Why not go to the Dough Disco? (using your playdough): https://www.youtube.com/user/shonettebason
Threading and lacing
Threading is a good way to develop hand-eye coordination.
Why not thread buttons, beads or even penne pasta onto pipe cleaners, string, shoe laces, dried spaghetti, ribbon, wool. Can you make a repeating pattern?
If you don't have any beads you could make salt dough beads (just make sure that you make a large hole in them before cooking) or you could make different animals/numbers/letters/something decorative for the house: http://www.busybeekidscrafts.com/Salt-Dough-Recipe.html
Use wool, string, ribbon or string which you have painted/coloured yourself to wind around a shape/letter/number outline.
Colander threading - thread pipe cleaners, wool, etc. into an upturned colander.
To practise a tripod (3-finger) grip for writing, pegs are great.
- Could your child help you peg the washing out?
- Or they could use these in their play ‘washing’ and pegging out doll clothes (or even their own socks!).
Puzzles, jigsaws, Lego, small blocks and tweezers are other fantastic ways to develop fine motor skills.
Code Breaker Game - https://fiveminutemum.com/2018/09/04/the-code-breaker/
Tape items to the window or door for them to take down.
Poke holes into an old shoebox with a pen. Post dried penne or fusilli pasta into the holes - they can have sounds written next to the holes so that the “posting” makes a word. To make it harder use tweezers or small kitchen tongs to pick up and post pasta.
Rice play - either use uncooked rice or you can cook it with some food dye for colourful rice. Use spoons, bowls, jugs, pans and funnels to play with it or make pictures with different coloured rice. Place the rice grains into a letter or number shapes.
Making repeating colour patterns using lego/duplo/blocks.
Finger football - scrunch a piece of foil up to make a ball, draw a football pitch out onto cardboard (opened up cereal box), you could even make some goals if you’re feeling creative! Flick the ball using your fingers and thumb (think Subbuteo technique) - is there a finger or hand that works best?
Tiddlywinks using counters or if you don’t have any cut some out of cardboard or use plastic lids from milk, gravy, etc. Which size works best?
Wrap elastic bands around a plastic bottle - do they stay on? How many can you fit?
Wrap up jigsaw puzzle pieces in newspaper and foil into a Pass the Parcel.
‘Pin the Tail on the Donkey’ but with funny face pieces or the letters of their names. See what funny faces they make or words they spell. Just a blind-fold (scarf), pen and paper and blu-tack will do.
Any drawing, colouring or writing activity helps to develop your child’s fine motor skills. Using different materials also helps: crayons, pencils, pens, highlighters and markers.
Numbers or words Spider Web - https://fiveminutemum.com/2018/04/12/the-spiders-web/
Search “fine motor pen maze” images and either print out or draw your own on paper/cardboard. How many different coloured pens/pencils can you use to complete the maze?
- Search Twinkl: https://www.twinkl.co.uk/search for ‘pencil control’. There’s loads of options around different themes to interest your child.
Your child might want to have a go at practising forming their letters. These sheets show how we teach the children to form their letters in school: