Fine motor skills are those that involve the use of small muscles that control the hand, fingers and the thumb. It is with the use of these muscles that a child is able to accomplish complex tasks like writing, buttoning, zipping, feeding oneself and so on. If not more, fine motor development is as important as Gross Motor Development in young children.
Children gradually learn fine motor skills through experience and exposure to a variety of materials in our surroundings. We as parents can help the process of these little hands developing dexterity and strength.
Here are some activities to try with your child that will help fine motor development:
• finger feeding – whether you choose Baby lead wearing or the traditional method of weaning, you can allow your baby to finger feed herself
• manipulate paper – paper is usually a favourite with kids. Allow them to tear, fold, wrap, crumble and waddle it
• play with play doh – one of the best ways to build hand strength is to play with play doh, kinetic sand or other such non toxic materials
• play with beads – thread tiny beads into a straw, pipe cleaner, rope or even a thick thread. Make sure you are always around when your child does this activity
• allow your child to do age appropriate tasks at home – such as put out clothing fasteners on clothes, chop veggies and with “Baby knife” as we like to call blunt knives, prepare a play grocery list and so on
• finger painting – let your child dip his fingers in safe paint and make his own art work
• cut with scissors – (the blunt ones) – they won’t be able to cut in one line, but cutting is a process they learn gradually. And it’s a great exercise for the hand muscles
• build with blocks – building with blocks such as Lego requires a lot of pushing and pulling that exercises the tiny hands
• punch hole – punch holes into a sheet of paper with a punch hole. We got fancy punch holes that punch the paper in different shapes and it makes this simple activity a lot more fun
• Lacing – take a shoe lace and weave the lace into the holes punched at a distance on a sheet Of paper
• play with Pom Poms – these colourful balls are open ended play material for kids they can play with endlessly. You can suggest sorting pom-pom-poms based on their colour, pasting them on paper or pompom Collage.
• play with tweezers – tweezers are a wonderful tool for building the finger muscles, kids can pick pompon balls, beads, buttons or any other materials with them. You can plan different activities with this tool
• play with pipe cleaners – pipe cleaners are a great tool for stimulating the creative side of a child. The bend and turn to Crete different shapes. You can also use these to thread beads and make ornaments
• play with straws – straws can be used creatively to aid fine motor development in kids. It can’t get more basic than threading straws into a shoethread. You can cut tiny pieces of straws to make threading more fun
• stickers – don’t kids love them already. Simply hand over the sheet to them and what they do next is just enough. You can also ask them to match similar stickers or create a story board later.
• droppers – When my son was younger, we got droppers with most of his tonics. And we put them to use by having fun with them. Just pick water in it and pour. You can also add colour to the water to make it visually appealing
• make a paper clip chain – all that needs to be done is to clip the paper clips one after the other
• kitchen tongs – get your child to help you in the kitchen or hand over a pair of kitchen rings and watch what they can pick with it
• Trace – tracing is a great exercise for those little fingers. We started off with tracing our hands and continued to trace shapes, animals cutouts, and pista shells. Preschoolers can also trace pre written text with paint or crayons
• pinching – Use a balloon to stretch it out on a glass, and pinch it to create sounds, let your toddler repeat. You could also use cloth pins to pinch and lift small objects like beads and pom-poms, simply pick and transfer into another bowl.
• Play with rubber bands – stretch the rubber band across a ball or a tube. You could hand over a pack of rubber bands to your preschooler and ask him to create his own patterns as he stretches them across an object.
• play with buttons – buttons are tiny pieces and doing an activity with them needs a lot of precision and concentration. You can paste them on a popsicle stick randomly or colurwise.
PS – Most of these activities involve materials that are tiny. You must be cautious and accompany your baby at all times