As our babies grow, it’s easy to forget how important play is to their development. Check out these simple affordable ways to help them hone their fine motor skills by integrating practice into everyday activities.
The toddler and pre-school years are an ideal time to get working on fine motor skills with children. Activities that develop the small hand muscles will eventually help our children complete tasks they will need to learn like buttoning, cutting, and eventually writing. Practicing these skills has been a big focus in our family especially with our oldest daughter who has a severe fine motor delay. Since we’ve spent a lot time figuring out how to make this fun for everyone, I thought I’d share what’s worked for us.
Lacing different beads is a fun activity to start with toddlers and can be fairly inexpensive. I often pick up little bead kits at the local dollar stores. It’s a good idea to get various sizes of beads so you can identify at home what your toddler is ready for. In the beginning stages you may need bigger beads and thicker strings. If your child is having trouble lacing onto a string, try using pipe cleaners. These are easy to twist into a bracelet afterwards—something your toddler will be proud to show off once completed.
A super fun way to get creative, play dough provides so many options to explore. Kids can help measure and mix your own at home using my easy homemade play dough recipe. You can then choose your own colours and add fun scents into it such as cinnamon or lavender. Rolling balls, making snakes, or pining straws into play dough are all great ways to exercise the hands and work on fine motor skills.
Think outside of the box and fill water tables with some fun new things like coloured rice or sand. Digging in will help develop those tiny hand muscles as your toddler buries their hands in and lifts the weight, or squeezes it in between their hands. Have your little one fill up an empty water bottle with the rice so an adult can later hot glue a lid on and use again as a sensory bottle.
On your next stop to the dollar store pick up a few empty spray bottles. You can fill these with water and add some food colouring (I like gel colouring the best–it will dissolve but gives more vibrant colour than liquid food colouring), and then head out and paint the snow. Try putting a few stencils down if you really want to get creative. The pulling and release of the spray bottle is another excellent way to work those hand muscles that will improve fine motor skills.
I hope these ideas become some fun activities that parents and caregivers and do with toddlers to work on fine motor skills. It’s helped our girl tremendously. We watched her go from hardly being able to use a spray bottle to a full on art show in our snowy backyard by the end of winter.
What are some fun ways you help kids develop fine motor skills? I’d love to hear some new ideas that we can use with our two daughters.
*Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Student Life Network or their partners.