Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Unexpected Activities that can strengthen your child's fine motor skills

Amy Croker, MAT, Elem. Education
While my girls and I were enjoying an afternoon on our patio, our usual ritual after school, I decided to change up our same ole routine of blowing bubbles, drawing pictures with sidewalk chalk, playing in the sandbox or kicking around the soccer ball. So I grabbed my one dollar steal at Target, the fun pink flower and green ladybug shaped water bottle, filled it with water, and let my girls' tiny hands go to work. And they absolutely loved it! They had no idea that they were exercising their fingers. They were just having fun!

After the girls of course squirted each other, or more like my 4 year old squirted my 1 1/2 year old and helpless puggle. As you can imagine, my 1 1/2 year old's sweet chubby fingers were not quite strong enough to squirt a bottle, but let me tell you, she was certainly trying her best to get her big sister back! Then, after a couple of tries she decided to go back to playing at the sandtable, something she knew she was pretty good at and enjoyed.

My oldest daughter continued to give her new flower water bottle a workout by watering our flowers, the grass, washing her toys and soccer ball and then decided to get a little more creative by making water pictures on the warm pavement. She got pretty good at it too.

Watering our flowers while strengthen her fingers and hand muscles
So Moms, if you have a child that will be going into Kindergarten next year or even the next, and they might be struggling with holding a pencil or crayon, or has a hard time using scissors, I strongly encourage you to provide opportunities, right now, for your child to develop and strengthen the tiny muscles in their hands. This is just another step (but avery important one) in getting your child ready for Kindergarten.

Once your child gets to Kindergarten or even Pre-K, they will need to be able to grasp the pencil, and control it well enough to write their name, color, use various manipulatives during center time, and cut with scissors. If your child is not able to do these things by Kindergarten, they will really struggle with the daily tasks in their classroom.

Some of you might be thinking right now you don't have time to work on fine motor skills and isn't that what the teacher is supposed to do or maybe you think that you are not creative enough to come up with fun activities for your child to strengthen their hand muscles. Really the activities don't have to be anything overly creative or hard like making your child sit at the table and write their name over and over again.

Every day you can easily incorporate something into what best fits your daily routine and also what you know your child likes to do best. It can be as simple as having them make things with Silly Putter or Play Dough. Or better yet, helping you in the kitchen form the pizza or cookie dough before you bake. Pinching and pulling a part the dough is another great finger exercise.

Using those pinchers to make a heart pizza

Working their hands and fingers with Play Dough

So you get the idea, that it is really easy to find every day opportunities for your child to strengthen their hand and finger muscles with activities that they enjoy the most.

For my girls, they enjoy being outside, so that simple activity of the day was squirting water with a fun water bottle, drawing with sidewalk chalk and pouring sand into one bucket and cup after another. While my oldest was not only strengthen her fine motor skills, she was also practicing writing, while my youngest was using her hands to hold the shovel and scoop the sand into different containers. My girls were just having fun, enjoying each other and learning all at the same time.

Building her finger muscles while drawing with her water bottle

Practicing dexterity with sandtable fun!

So you can do it Moms! I know you can! You may even surprise yourself and come up with more clever ways to practice fine motor and writing with your kids. Would love to hear the new ideas if you do.

On Friday, I will be talking about fun and easy ways you can help your child practice writing their numbers, letters and cutting with scissors. In the meantime, I encourage you to read back over Monday's post and print out the list of items and activities you can do with your child.

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