Fine Motor Development

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By: Angy Talbot (ECFE Blog Writer)

It is important that children develop their fine (small) motor skills. Fine motor skills are defined as the coordination of small muscle movements—usually involving the synchronization of hands and fingers. Fine motor skills involve writing, handling silverware, buttoning and grasping small objects. It is essential that children do activities that improve the muscles in the fingers and hands to strengthen handgrip and develop wrist movement. Children in today’s day of age are spending less time using fine motor manipulatives and toys while spending more time with technology. Underdeveloped fine motor muscles could make it difficult for children to write or cut in school. There are many different activities you can do to help strengthen and build your child’s fine motor skills.

• Cutting/Scissors Activities: Children can cut out coupons, magazines or greeting cards. Children can also cut out small pieces of paper and glue/paste into a collage. Making lines on paper with a ruler and having the child cut on the line. You can then change the line by adding a swirl or zigzag pattern.
• Jewelry Making: Using beads, macaroni or even fruit loops, children can make jewelry with a string or piece of yarn.
• Small Building Blocks: Toys like Lego’s or Tinker Toys to build with are great fine motor activities.
• Coloring and Drawing: Using crayons and coloring books or colored pencils with drawing paper.
• Tearing Paper: Tearing colored paper into small pieces to make a mosaic.
• Qtip Art: Painting pictures using paint and Q-tips instead of a paintbrush.
• Pick Up Small Objects: Use pennies and put them into a piggy bank or beans and placing into a small opening on a box or bag.
• Transfer with Tongs: Use tongs or spoons and have the child pick up beans or rice from one container or bowl to another.
• Play dough: Using different types of tools such as plastic knives and rolling pins or just their hands.
• Eyedroppers: Can be used in a sink, tub of water or bathtub.
• Getting Dressed: Zippers, buttons and snaps.
• Using Utensils: Holding spoons, forks and knives to eat.
• Pouring Water: Pouring their own water into a cup to drink.
• Puzzles: Puzzles of all sizes and difficulties.
• Containers: Opening and closing of container lids.
• Puppets: Playing with hand or finger puppets.
• Art Projects: Crafts and art of all kinds.

This is just a short list to help get you started. When children can practice fine motor skills they can learn to do more things independently. Fine motor skills are critical in every area of a child’s life from getting dressed, eating and picking up small objects. If your child appears to be having difficulties developing fine motor skills, please contact your child’s pediatrician or an occupational therapist.

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