In the preschool years, children are preparing for the fine motor challenges of kindergarten through play, creative, and self-help activities. As fine motor control is an important foundational skill before a child can master writing, we recommend parents provide creative, hands-on activities for children to practice fine motor strength and coordination at home.
Developing fine motor skills can be frustrating and challenging for some children. Setting a fun and playful tone is the key to motivating a child to participate in a new or difficult task. The parent who asks, “Want to play a game with me?” is often met with an eager response. If an activity proves frustrating or unappealing to a child, a wise parent is quick to make adjustments or switch to another activity. Watch your child’s level of frustration and make small adjustments if necessary. Connecting fine motor play time to another desirable activity can be effective as well. For example, a parent might say, “When you have put 6 stickers on this page, then we can go outside to play.”
Here are 10 fine motor tools (with links to activities) parents can easily use to encourage fun and creative fine motor play.
- Rubber bands: Play a game to see how many rubber bands you can get around a can.
- Kitchen tongs: Use tongs to pick up blocks.
- Play dough: One of THE BEST ways to work on lots of fine motor skills!
- Scissors: Teach your child the right way to hold scissors and practice cutting with different materials.
- Stickers: Hit the dollar store for inexpensive stickers and simple sticker play
- Measuring cups: Measuring spoons + pom poms + ice cube tray = FUN!
- Broken crayons: A broken crayon or golf pencil is a wonderful tool to naturally encourages a proper grip.
- Beads: Make a bead tower with pipe cleaners/pasta wedged in play dough.
- Hole punch: Squeeze hard and strengthen muscles by punching holes in cardstock, etc.
- Squeeze bottle: For outside play or in the bathtub, a squeeze bottle filled with water is great way to build hand strength.