As kindergarten teachers fine motor is always on our minds. Fine motor skills are not only important in the classroom but in life in general. A child who exhibits weakness in fine motor may have difficulty writing, cutting, using eating utensils, turning pages in a book, or even dressing themselves. It's a life skill!
How can we build those small muscles in our children's hands? How can we make these activities fun for them? Activities to strengthen fine motor are part of our daily instruction. We have even developed a fine motor center in our classrooms that is surprisingly a favorite center choice! We wanted to share with you some of the activities with you today!
When we set up our grasping centers, we always add large objects for the children to grasp with all of their fingers. In the center pictured below, the child is moving rubber sports balls. We also encourage that these objects be moved from left to right so they are used to that movement.
In the center below, the child is looking for objects that are hidden within the popcorn kernels. They feel around with their hands and then grasp the object with their fingers before taking it out of the container. This is a fun center for the children! We change the hidden objects from time to time and the children love it! We try to make them thematic if we can.
This is another large grasping activity we set up in the sand table. The table is full of colored rice with plastic monkeys buried in it. The children search through the rice and use their fingers to remove the monkeys. The monkeys have letters on their stomachs which is an added bonus because they can spell words with the letters they find!
Sponge painting is a good activity for grasping as well. Children hold the sponge with their fingers to dip in paint and then apply paint onto their canvas in an up and down motion.
We like for the children to use real tweezers in the center pictured below. We encourage them to hold the tweezers like a pencil and to use their muscles to pick up the colored pom-poms and move them from one container to the other.
We love these fine motor games from Lakeshore: Feed the Dog and Feed the Monkey. The children love feeding the animals and are working to strengthen their muscles while having fun!
We encourage the children to try to hold the tweezers like they would hold a pencil. This is easier for some than for others, but we keep cheering them on!
Lacing is such a good activity for so many reasons. Not only are the children using their fingers and wrists to manipulate the string in and out of tiny holes, but they are also strengthening their eye-hand coordination as well. The children love to lace and we try to incorporate it where we can. Here the children are lacing a bear to hold their retelling pieces for the story Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?
We keep colored pasta and beads in our fine motor center for the children to create necklaces. They put the pasta and beads onto a length of yarn. The best part is they get to keep it!
We also love these store bought lacing cards. There are several cards that have a color word on them and an animal name. The children lace around the animal following the numbers in order.
Here is our Nuts & Bolts center. Children need to use their pinching strength to hold the nut and bolt, but then it also take some coordination to be able to keep twisting the nut until it is all the way on!
On the 100th day of school, we made our Dotty Dude with 100 dots on him! The children organized their 100 dots first, and that certainly took some pinching power along with hand-eye coordination!
These fun bean names are a favorite beginning of the year art project of ours! The children are practicing letters in their name, using glue bottles carefully, and also improving their fine motor strength to pinch one bean at a time and carefully place it on the letters in their name one at a time. Then, we also encourage them to color the little pictures on the border to further improve their crayon grasp and small motor control while coloring...and patience!
We LOVE clippie centers! We have them for many of our themes to address a large variety of academic skills while also strengthening their fingers to pinch the clothespins. Fun!
Tissue paper crafts are another way we get their fingers busy pinching and getting stronger while also making something fun to take home and show off! They pinch small squares of tissue paper, roll them into balls, and push them down onto white glue and voila!
Who doesn't love playdough?!? The children are always surprised that playdough is good for them and makes them stronger! We make letters, numbers, shapes, and all sorts of other fun stuff!
Who knew a large thumbtack and a cute paper picture could be so addicting?!? Pin punching is a favorite by many children also! They simply push the thumbtack (pushpin) through the paper on the outline of the shape (we do this on a carpet surface) and continue to do so right beside the previous hole until they get all the way around the shape. If they punched their holes close together and carefully, their shape will come out easily from the extra paper and they'll get to take their hard work home with them. The one pictured is a more advanced shape, you can start out with simple shapes like circles, squares, etc.
We all do this one in our room and if you spend a lot of time modeling and teaching strategies for neat coloring, tricky shapes, holding crayons correctly, etc., your children's coloring growth will blow you away! We spend a lot of time coloring neatly and completely and it really makes a big difference in their skills!
The first day that children use scissors in your classroom can be a little scary! But again, with a lot of modeling, opportunities to practice, and providing students with strategies for cutting neatly with different types of shapes, the children improve very quickly!
We are always writing! We write with pencils, dry erase markers, or even our fingers in sand or salt. We give our children pencil grips if they are needed to help them with their grasp.
The children love these magnetic mazes. Not only are they good for fine motor, they also help build other skills as well. These are also from Lakeshore.
We hope that you're able to use or adapt some of these strategies in your own classroom routines, centers, or lessons to allow your children time to develop these important small motor skills that they need for so many daily tasks that will benefit them forever! Thanks for stopping by and hanging out with us today!