Fine Motor Activities for Preschoolers
Preschool is a time for vast cognitive and motor development. Providing fine motor activities for preschool is an important part of the classroom experience. Fine motor activities are critical for future handwriting skills. This is important because up to 60% of what elementary students do in the classroom involves writing and the use of fine motor skills. Research also tells us that a child’s fine motor skills in preschool is an indicator for future academic success.
Fine Motor Activities for Preschool – In the Classroom
One way to offer fine motor activities for preschool is through morning centers. Centers are typically one of the first experiences children encounter when they walk in the classroom. Teachers often rotate centers throughout the week and give their preschoolers several center choices. Simple fine motor activities include play dough, chalkboard, rice or sand bin, dress up station, and Lego station to name a few.
Centers are sometimes self-directed. This means the preschoolers direct the fine motor activities rather than the teacher providing specific directions.
A child with developmental delays may benefit from more structured fine motor activities. He or she may require adult assistance or verbal cues such as those provided in The TV Teacher’s Strokes, Shapes, & Scenes program. Our fun and catchy songs will motivate children to sing and draw along--simply amazing teachers, therapists, and parents around the world!
Another way teachers and therapists provide fine motor activities for preschoolers is through crafts. Learning about seasons and upcoming holidays will often dictate the craft the preschool teacher is choosing. To address fine motor skills, think about the specific skill component you would like your preschoolers to work on.
For example, if the skill component is cutting paper, having preschoolers cut out long strips of yellow and orange in order to make a sun may be a great activity to celebrate spring or summer.
The fine motor skills that preschool teachers address during this activity could be:
This refers to how a child’s hands and eyes are working together to perform a task, when visual input assists in leading movements of the hand.
visual motor coordination
This is the ability to coordinate visual information with motor output; this coordination is utilized when catching a ball or tracing lines.
This refers to the ability to use both sides of the body in a controlled and organized fashion.
This is the ability to hold and move an object within one’s hand.
This is the ability of muscles within the hand to perform a task for a functional amount of time without fatiguing.
When creating these motor activities, it is best to combine some old and some new. Preschoolers love beading pipe cleaners and yarn, knobbed puzzles, and Bristle blocks. These are “oldies but goodies”.
Some novel ideas may include painting coffee filters with eye droppers, stamping, ripping wrapping paper bin, or creating a mural.
Some preschoolers like to have a visual example of motor activities to help with motor planning and to spark creativity. The TV Teacher’s Fun Foundations for Handwriting provides teachers many fun fine motor activities to use in the preschool classroom. Kids viewing the fun activity will be motivated to reenact the skill afterwards.
There are so many fun ideas that are affordable and may be easily implemented in the preschool setting. Observe how your students smile, laugh, create and explore new fine motor activities offered. Let that guide you in your activity choices. Rotating to fresh new activities keeps preschoolers motivated to participate in motor activities. Coming back to class favorites is exciting for children and can provide a sense of mastery.
Fine Motor Activities for Preschool – At Home
One way parents can offer fine motor activities is to provide a space that offers opportunities for children to use their motor skills. Parents may invest in a child-size table that they can place in the family room or kitchen.
Putting the table in an area that the family frequently uses encourages their preschoolers to spend more time at this fine motor table. There are many things you can put out on this table to encourage fine motor activities: crayons, markers, chalk, play dough, and pipe cleaners with beads. Coloring books, watercolor paints, and blank paper are always fun too.
Scissors are often a good activity to encourage at home (with parent supervision). If cutting is too difficult, ripping paper is the next best thing. Ripping a variety of construction paper and using it to decorate a piece of paper is a fun and easy activity. An example of this may be ripping different colored paper and sticking it to a piece of paper to create a rainbow.
Observe how your children react to different activities. Are they having fun? Are they challenged? Are they frustrated? Take these responses seriously. Children will not pretend something is fun if it is not. They will want to sit and participate in fine motor activities if they are having fun.
Creating fun fine motor activities is more about imagination than supplies. Pre-writing programs such as Strokes, Shapes and Scenes [below left] and Fun Foundations for Handwriting [below right] offer parents a variety of fun fine motor activities for preschool while giving children a visual example of the activity.
The basic supplies for fine motor activities are: glue, crayons, construction paper, water color paints, and scissors. From there it is easy to think of fun things to draw, cut and paint. Using some items in your pantry can also be an easy, interesting way to create new fine motor ideas.
Painting and stringing pasta, gluing dried cheerios to a piece of paper, or making a trail of “ants” by gluing raisins to a piece of paper are examples of some fun activities. Your child may also bring fun ideas to the table. Letting your child create and helping him with his ideas is also a way to foster fine motor development, problem solving, and creativity.