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Fabulous Fine Motor Skills

Why are fine motor skills important?

Fine motor skills are those that involve a refined use of the small muscles which control the hand, fingers and thumb. The sooner the development of these skills is started the better. With the development of these skills a child is able to complete important tasks such as writing, feeding oneself, dressing themselves and using buttons and zips. 

One of the most important ways we can help our children while playing with them at home or whilst they are in our care is through setting up fun and simple activities that help to develop their fine motor skills. Young children in the early years of their development need to be able to practise holding small tools and to practise the patience and concentration it requires to use scissors and pencils appropriately for when they are in the classroom setting.

What activities can help improve fine motor skills?

Setting up playful and engaging activities that help children to strengthen the muscles in their hands, fingers and thumbs enables them to develop the strength needed for future development.  

We’ve gathered some easy to set up activities for you to begin straight away.

So, let's strengthen those fingers!

Sand Tray 

Create a basic sand tray. Using a tray, a small wooden box or a baking tray, fill the entire

base with a layer of sand that is thick enough to completely cover the bottom, but not so much that children can’t form letters in the sand. Ensure you choose a container with a lip so the sand is contained.

Children can use a finger or you can choose a writing utensil. This can be a paintbrush, a stick, a chopstick or any other utensil that will work to write in the sand.

This can be used for forming letters, numbers, shapes or patterns. 

(If you don’t have sand you can use salt instead.) 

Cotton Bud Painting

Cotton Bud Painting is a brilliant way to practise holding small objects with control. The

things that you paint and create together can have a low level of challenge that is increased as and when the child is ready. This can begin with blobs, letter or number formation and the writing of words. It can be a fun and creative way for older children to practise joined up and cursive writing. 

Pom Pom and Object Sorting

The action of picking up objects and sorting is a fun and simple activity. The motion of

pinching to hold an object can be varied and made more challenging. Firstly, by just using the fingers and going on to pinch and pick up using pegs, tongs or tweezers. 

The sorting carried out can be a colour matching activity or counting activity. 

Playdough Activities

The use of playdough for moulding, rolling and shaping is fantastic for strengthening the

hand and finger muscles in a fun and creative way. Using the fingers to make shapes is a great starter activity. The use of tools, for example scissors, is a safe way to practise cutting skills. These can easily be made more challenging by involving different shapes and skills, such as pushing beads into the play dough to make patterns.   

Hammering Matchsticks

Using a hammer is even a skill that some adults struggle to carry out safely. Using a

plastic or toy hammer to aim at a smaller object, such as a matchstick sticking out of foam is a safe and effective way to improve fine motor skills. One that can easily be made into a role play activity for those mini builders! 

Toothpick Structures

These structures are a fantastic way for construction enthusiasts to practise their fine

motor skills. They are a wonderful way to practise small moulding movements and can be kept simple or made into greater challenges. They are also a fun way to learn about both 2D and 3D shapes. 

Wire Rack Weaving

This is an incredibly simple activity to begin and only uses two resources. You simply

need string, thread, pipe cleaners or ribbon and a wire rack from the kitchen. The repetitive motion of weaving the ribbon over and under the wire means that even if it is tricky to begin with little ones will start to get the hang of it in time.  

Hedgehog Pegs

This is a fun and silly game which involves using the fingers carefully to add or remove the pegs. You can alter the game by making challenges for each other. You could time each other to see how long it takes to take all of the pegs off each others clothing or have competitions to see who can take the most pegs off in an amount of time. 

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