Thursday, August 18, 2011

Crafts for Fine Motor Skills

Before Natalie became a toddler, I didn't see point in most easy crafts. I figured maybe they were fun for little kids because they were new or messy, but that was it. Since then, I've gained new perspective. I never thought of a lot of these easy crafts providing valuable practice for fine motor skills. I've also learned that most crafts provide the opportunity to naturally learn preschool content, namely colors, shapes, counting, textures, and following directions.

Here are some actions that provide fine motor practice:
  • Picking up small objects
  • Ripping and crumpling paper
  • Squeezing
  • Cutting with scissors
  • Placing small objects in specific spots
  • Rolling and molding dough
  • Threading a string through a hole
  • Scribbling, coloring, drawing, and writing

Now, here are some easy crafts that use those skills. Keep in mind, not all are appropriate for all ages.

Stickers! - I've always liked stickers and understood their coolness value as a reward for children of all ages. But once I started to let Natalie play with stickers, I saw how good they are for her little fingers. It took practice for her to get a sticker off her finger and onto where she wanted it. Then, she learned how to get stickers off the paper on her own. Changing the sizes and shapes of the stickers also increased the difficulty. Something so simple has provided a lot of fun and practice for her.

Construction paper shapes on contact paper - This activity was brought one day by our home visitor. Its like reverse stickers. Instead of the shape being sticky, the paper you stick it to is. You can make the shapes ahead of time, or let your child help by cutting or tearing. Natalie was maybe about 18 months when she did this, so she just stuck the shapes everywhere. But, older kids could plan out a design or picture. To save it, just put another piece of contact paper or a piece of backing paper over the first.

Drawing with glitter glue or puffy paint - One day this was the craft at play group and I must admit that I thought our facilitator must have been a little off her game that week. But I then heard her telling another mom how squeezing those little bottles is great fine motor practice.

Play dough or clay - Play dough is a far better toys then I knew until our home visitor brought some over one day. It is a great medium (other than say, food) for mashing, smooshing, tearing, rolling, poking, squeezing and otherwise shaping. When I play with it, I feel the little muscles in my hand working! Also, our home visitor said that using the plastic play dough scissors is a great way to introduce how to cut with scissors. As your child gets older, there are lots more things to do with play dough including all the accessories you can buy and actually making models.

Sock puppets - There are many different ways to make sock puppets and depending on how you do it, you can use various skills. You can stick to drawing with markers. Or you could add pom poms, buttons, beads, googly eyes, feathers, and string to practice squeezing the glue and carefully placing the items. You could even get some scissors practice in there by cutting the string for hair or making clothes out of felt.

Pom Pom Animals - For a few dollars at your local dollar store, you can get pom poms, googly eyes, pipe cleaners, craft sticks, and glue. You now have everything you need to make an army of animals providing your child with lots of fine motor practicing gluing those animal parts into place. (Also great for naturally learning and taking about colors, animals, body parts, and textures!).

Sewing cards - These are a two fold craft. If your child helps to make the cards, you can practice drawing, cutting, and squeezing the hole punch. Then, when using the cards there is the threading of the sting in and out of the holes.

Necklaces or Bracelets - For the youngest children, you would start with thicker yarn or twine and use edible pieces like O shaped cereal. As kids get older, you can use uncooked pasta, and then various sized beads.

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