Fine motor skills are such important skills for our little ones to develop but what exactly are fine motor skills and why do they matter anyway? Simply put gross motor skills involve the development of the large muscles required to perform skills such as jumping, hoping, balancing, throwing, catching, etc and fine motor skills refer to the small muscles in hands and fingers which are essential for drawing, writing, tying shoe laces, feeding, and many more every day tasks. In the early years, it is vital that children have lots of opportunities to develop fine motor skills before starting school, and today I am sharing 5 fun ideas that are perfect for children in the ‘pre-writing’ stage of development (though they are also awesome for strengthening and refining those same muscles with older children).
5 Funtastic Fine Motor Activities for Toddlers & Preschoolers
1. Scoopy Scissors + Pom Poms
These scoopy scissors are such a clever little invention, and they can be used with a variety of materials; rainbow rice, small pasta or pom poms. Young children are often amused by simply transferring materials from one place to another – and back again!
2. Spaghetti Threading
Our trusty play dough makes an appearance with this activity, used to stand up spaghetti sticks. Provide a variety of threading materials such as buttons, beads, penne pasta and short pieces of drinking straw. It’s a fresh twist on classic necklace threading! You can see in our picture above that our ‘leaning tower of spaghetti’ was about to topple over at any minute!!
3. Pegs on Tubs Colour Matching
This one combines colour matching with fine motor development. You can peg pegs onto anything (colour paint swatches from the hardware store are a simple idea) but we found another use for these cute, little colourful tubs – popping mini pegs around each one. Miss 3 decided it would have to be in the rainbow order, and she went down the line putting on one peg for each colour as she went.
4. Play Dough Hair Dressers
Is play dough a regular favourite in your house too? Miss 3 has had this playdoh pony for a while now, and recently rediscovered it and figured out how to cut it’s long play dough hair. Perfect now that she’s getting so much better at using scissors. Cutting play dough takes very little effort, so it’s an ideal place to start before you attempt cutting paper or other materials. These plastic scissors are super safe too. Or you can create the same activity without the pony with playdough, a garlic press (or just roll long snakes!) and some kid safe scissors like these.
5. Baking Soda + Vinegar Experiment
This is a real ‘oohhhh ahhhhh’ activity as your little one observes the chemical reaction cause when vinegar and bi-carb soda are combined. Simply line a low sided tray or dish with the bi-carb soda and add a few drops of food colouring to the vinegar. The little soy sauce fish containers you often receive with your sushi lunch are ideal for squeezing the food colouring + vinegar mixture onto the baking soda (great idea, thanks Alison from The Way He Plays) or use an eye dropper or pipette.
Three and four year olds are often very independent creatures and insist on doing things themselves. Activities such as these which work their fine motor skills are also great for encouraging that independence. Activities developing fine motor skills are such an essential part of the early learning puzzle!
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