Sunday, 22 February 2015

Fine motor skills - advice and activities to help support your little one!

This post is all about fine motor skills - what they are, why they are so important and how we can help our little ones to develop them.

So firstly, let me explain what fine motor skills are:

Fine motor literally means the movements that we make which are controlled by the small muscles in our hands. From birth we start to use our hands to explore the world around us, and as we grow, we begin to gain more and more control of our movements along with our gross motor (whole body) movements. 

Typically, babies start by using grabbing movements or waving their hands, then as your little one grows older and starts to develop their control and cognitive skills, they will be able to accomplish more complex movements such as gripping a crayon or successfully using a zip. As your little one continues their journey through nursery, they will refine their skills and by the time they are ready for school, they will have developed enough control to hold pencils and paintbrushes using them to make marks or write, do up and undo buttons, do activities such as threading or using scissors with control as well as many other activities that require control and hand-eye co-ordination.

This is why fine motor development is so important, as it lays the foundations for vital skills that will be needed as they grow. Being able to use our hands effectively and with control is crucial for your child's ongoing development.

So how can you support your little one's fine motor development?

Below I have listed a few activity ideas you can try with your little one to help them develop their fine motor skills. Keep the activities fun and varied so your child stays stimulated and if you notice an area that needs more development, keep working on that with them. If your little one goes to nursery then have a chat with their teacher and get their ideas and advice as well. 

  • Playdough - a fantastic activity that never gets old. Ask your child to help you make playdough for added fine motor development and enjoyment! Have lots of tools they can use to cut, roll or shape the playdough and have some fun materials that they can use with it such as rice, googly eyes, dried pasta and shells.
  • Threading beads - threading is an excellent activity for developing fine motor skills. Vary the size of the beads or use alternative objects such as penne pasta, small bracelets, buttons or hollow shapes to suit your little one's age and abilities. You could even get them making pasta necklaces by painting the pasta, leaving it to dry and then threading it, this is one of my favourites and nursery children love it!
  • Make some fine motor toys - you could use a container and make holes in it for your little one to post items such as straws or shapes through or they could use them for threading. Hours of fun and relatively inexpensive!
  • Sensory mark-making - this is one of my favourite activities. Use a variety of materials such as flour, rice, lentils, shaving foam, cornflour, gloop or jelly, put them in a tray or straight on the table and let your little one have fun experimenting and mark-making in a range of textures! This is great for their fine motor development, as well as developing their creativity and understanding of the world.
  • Homemade cardboard shapes - make different shapes and use a hole punch to make holes around the edges. Your little one can then practice their shape recognition while having fun threading!
  • Finger, hand or cotton bud painting - lots and lots of fun while strengthening those all important hand muscles. Get lots of paper and some fun coloured washable paint and let your little one go wild!

  • Sorting and stacking objects - both these activities have numerous possibilities and are really good for developing those little hand muscles, as well as mathematical or language skills. Use materials such as blocks, shells, buttons, cups, pasta...the list is endless!
  • Collaging activities - start off with getting your little one to tear up pieces of different textured or coloured paper and stick them on to create a fantastic work of art. As they get older, you can ask them to start cutting the pieces instead!

For more activity ideas, check out our Facebook page

See you soon!

Katie is an Early Years specialist in Dubai, where she 
manages an EYFS nursery. She has a special interest 
in psychology and early childhood development. 


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