Improving your child's fine motor and gross motor skills
How to Work on Fine Motor Skills
A fine motor skill involves the coordination of the small muscles in your hands with your eyes. Mastery of fine motor skills gives both children and adults a greater range of independence with their daily activities. Activities that strengthen both hand muscles and hand-eye coordination can help improve fine motor skills while also being fun.
Strengthening Hand Muscles
Squeeze play-dough or clay.Working with play-dough or clay provides an opportunity to strengthen finger muscles by squeezing and stretching the material into different shapes.
- Roll out the dough or clay and then pound it down. Use other tools to shape the clay, such as popsicle sticks.
- Don’t have any play-dough at home? No problem. You can easily make your own by mixing together 1 cup (240 mL) of water, 1 cup (128 g) of flour, ½ cup (136 g) of salt, 1 tablespoon (15 mL) of vegetable oil, and 1 tablespoon of cream of tartar over medium heat until it comes together. Color it with food coloring if you like!
- You could also make a bread dough that needs kneading and have something yummy to eat after your exercise!
Pick things up with a clothespin.Working with a clothespin will improve hand dexterity by strengthening your grasp. Pick up pompoms and move them with a clothespin from one pile to another.
- Use clothespins to hang things up on a clothesline.
- If clothespins are too difficult to squeeze, try using tweezers first. They’ll require more concentration but are easier to squeeze.
- You could also use kitchen tongs to pick up larger pompom balls for more of a challenge.
Work with rubber bands.You can stretch 2-3 rubber bands between your thumb and pointer finger to strengthen finger muscles.
- Wrap an object, such as an apple, with many rubber bands and then take them off.
- Find a large rubber band with which to play hand games, such as the Cat’s Cradle.
Ball up a piece of paper with one hand.Using only one hand the entire time, crumple up a piece of paper into a ball and then smooth it back out again. This works on developing hand strength.
Improving Hand-Eye Coordination
Use scissors to cut.Working with scissors to cut paper is a great exercise for building hand-eye coordination.
- Start with cutting paper without any patterns and then draw lines for you to follow. Start with straight lines before progressing to waves and zigzags.
- If this is too difficult, you can begin by cutting straws, which are more easily cut.
- Have a small child cut out shapes or have an adult cut out coupons.
Thread objects onto a string.Get some string and begin threading objects onto it. You can thread a range of items, such as straws, beads, macaroni, or Cheerios.
- Use a shoelace to make threading easier since it has a hard end that won’t fray.
- Make it a fun activity by stringing beads to decorate your tree at Christmas or to wear for Mardi Gras.
Draw.Practicing drawing shapes, such as a circle, is a good way to improve both hand muscles and hand-eye coordination.
- Use broken crayons or mini-golf pencils to work on improving your muscles for gripping.
Open and close jars.Practice hand-eye coordination by unscrewing jar tops. Then screw them back into place. You can use whatever you have laying around in your pantry or bathroom.
Sort coins into piles.Sort out a pile of coins by placing them into piles stacked on top of each other. Balancing the coins on top of each other requires careful hand-eye coordination. See how high you can stack them!
Getting Creative with Activities
Make origami.Making paper origami animals requires folding paper intricately, which works on both wrist strength and hand-eye coordination.
- Start off with an easy paper folding activity, such as making a fan, and then work up to something a little bit harder, such as a frog or penguin.
- Fold cloth napkins to prepare for a fancy dinner party.
Play video games.Video games are a great way to improve fine motor skills since they involve movement coordination and finger dexterity.
- Any video game controllers that utilize joysticks to control the game are good for developing fine motor skills.
- Shooter games, such as Call of Duty, that require the player to coordinate their position and direction in space while aiming are helpful in developing fine motor skills.
- Don’t forget about mobile games! Dot Collector and Tremble Drop are 2 games that will help improve your dexterity.
Make a scrapbook.This is a good way to practice cutting and pasting, which requires hand-eye coordination. Plus, you can have fun and make memories while improving your fine motor skills.
Paint with your fingers.Finger painting increases hand dexterity and encourages hand-eye coordination. Pull out the finger paints and practice drawing fun shapes or pictures onto the paper.
Put together a puzzle.Working with small pieces of a puzzle and placing them together will help with both strengthening hand muscles and hand-eye coordination.
- Start with a puzzle with larger pieces and work up to puzzles with smaller pieces.
Play the piano.By playing the piano you can strengthen your fingers and work on increasing their dexterity. You’ll improve your fine motor skills while filling your house with the sound of music.
Construct with building blocks.Build up a castle or tower with Lego (or similar) blocks to practice fine motor skills. You can begin with larger Lego blocks, such as Duplo, and graduate to smaller ones when you need the challenge.
QuestionHow does fine motor skill help to develop writing skills? What exercises do we need to follow?
Childcare Center DirectorChildcare Center DirectorExpert AnswerDeveloping a strong fine motor skill will help writing skills because one would need the correct motor functions to be able to make the fine movements in the fingers and hands necessary for writing.Thanks!
QuestionDoes motor control help with hand-eye coordination and why?
Childcare Center DirectorChildcare Center DirectorExpert AnswerMotor control is the process of the brain sending signals to the muscles to accomplish a movement. We need proper motor control systems to help make movements with our hands. Like any skill, practice can help strengthen these pathways.Thanks!
QuestionDoes bottle flipping help with fine motor skills?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerSure, this can help with fine motor skills. However, this would be a difficult activity for someone with poor fine motor skills just starting out. Instead, consider moving beans from one cup to another.Thanks!
QuestionHow do adults improve fine motor skills?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThe activities for improving fine motor skills for adults and children are largely the same. However, there are some household activities that adults can do that will help get chores done and work on fine motor skills. For example, putting away groceries onto shelves or reorganizing a shelf is a good activity. Folding laundry also works on improving fine motor skills.Thanks!
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