Improving Fine Motor Skills: Part II

In my first post on improving fine motor skills, I discussed our favorite Kumon workbooks and how they have greatly helped my daughter with her fine motor skills. In this post, I want to cover some other activities that we have used to help improve both fine motor and bilateral coordination skills. Bilateral coordination is the ability to coordinate both sides of the body together at the same time. Bilateral coordination is necessary for many activities including writing, drawing, cutting, and throwing or catching a ball.

Fine Motor and Bilateral Coordination Activities

1. Take a plastic container (margarine, yogurt, etc.) and cut a slit in the lid. Have your child push play or real coins into the container. Playing Connect Four or just feeding checkers into a Connect Four frame is the same type of activity if you have the game on hand.

2. Provide small squirt guns for your child to use in the bathtub or outside. The rule at our house is you can only aim at the bathtub walls or you lose your squirt gun.

3. Do finger plays and action rhymes with your child such as the Eentsy Weentsy Spider, Two Little Blackbirds, Where is Thumbkin, etc. A great resource book for finger plays and hand rhymes is The Eentsy, Weentsy Spider: Fingerplays and Action Rhymes by Joanna Cole. Rosa loves this book!

4. Make a mini clothes line and help your child hang doll clothes on it using clothes pins. You can also have your child attach clothes pins to the side of a small card box.

5. Give your child a hand held hole punch and let them have fun punching colorful paper. You can buy paper punches at craft stores that punch out flowers, stars, animals, and lots of other designs. The punches with the button on the top are hard for kids to use but there are some that have a lever that are easier for little hands. We have star and flower punches and my children have enjoyed gluing the stars and flowers on homemade cards and paper crowns using a glue stick.

6. Sewing cards and threading beads are two good fine motor activities.

7. Get some play dough and roll out different size balls and snakes. You can turn your snakes into letters, numbers, and shapes which adds to the learning fun. Hiding buttons in play dough for your child to find is another good way to strengthen hand muscles.

8. Throw some plastic bottles with screw on lids in the bathtub or wash out your kids liquid soap and shampoo bottles. My kids love empty bottles more than bath toys. Taking lids on and off and pouring water between bottles are both great activities. An empty pump lotion dispenser makes another great bath toy. Just make sure you clean out the containers well. I also recommend only giving your children empty bottles that are made from #2 and #5 plastics because these are the safe plastics in case your child decides to chew on the bottles. Avoid giving them bottles with child proof lids. It might be great for their fine motor skills to master opening these but this is not something you want them to learn.

9. Have your child help you fold washcloths, sweep the kitchen floor with a small broom and dust pan, or spread butter on toast. Household chores are great for kids development and a help to Mom as the kids get older.

10. Bake some cookies and let your child stir the batter for you. Make bread or pizza dough and give some to your child to play with. They can cut out bread shapes with cookie cutters and decorate their bread cookies with raisins, sprinkles, chocolate chips, or whatever you have on hand.

11. Let your child make cards for friends and relatives using stamps.

12. Buy books or sheets of small inexpensive stickers and let your child fill a sticker book with them. You can make your own sticker book with sheets of paper that you fold and staple. This is a great activity for when you travel.

13. When you get bubble wrap in the mail, let your child pop the bubbles with their hands and fingers only.

14. Practice writing letters in a pan filled with a thin layer of salt or cornmeal. You can also make letters, numbers, and shapes out of Wikki Stix or draw on a Magnadoodle.

15. Crayon rubbing, pop beads, and stencils are all good for developing fine motor skills. You can make your own stencils by cutting shapes out of plastic lids. Leaves work well for crayon rubbings.

16. Buy some pompoms and let your child use a small set of tongs to transfer the pompoms from one container to another.

17. Water droppers can be used to make water color paintings or just to transfer water between small containers.

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