6 ways to develop your toddler’s fine motor skills

Motor skills are a major part of child development and something that are talked about a lot. Gross motor skills = running, jumping, skipping, i.e. large movements. Fine motor skills = threading, writing, picking up objects, i.e. small more delicate movements. Schools and nurseries really put an emphasis on the development of fine motor skills as these can really help pencil control and the physical ability to pick up a pencil and write. But you can do so much to develop these skills at home.

Here are some of my favourite activities to try at home. There are many commercial educational games and activities that focus on fine motor skill development which are fantastic, but below are the homemade thrifty options!

1. ThreadingCheerio Tower

Make pasta/button/cheerio/leaf/bead necklaces, bracelets and towers. Experiment with different sized threading objects. Top tip: try having a cheerio tower making race- a complete winner with the boys!

2. Cutting

Scissors – Invest in some child friendly scissors then put out old newspaper, magazines, cereal boxes, loo rolls, playdough or anything you don’t mind being cut into a million pieces! As their skills improve you can give them simple shapes or objects to cut out so they learn to follow a direction.

Knives – Again, encourage the use of a knife both at mealtimes and in play. Use a child safe knife to cut playdough, cookie dough, butter, sand, modelling clay, blue tack, mud pies, but please don’t forget to talk about the safety of using a knife.

3. Picking and PlacingPick and Place

Use fingers or jumbo tweezers (available on Amazon) to pick up beads, small stones, leaves, cotton wool balls, buttons, dried pulses or anything small. Experiment with a variety of placing containers, e.g. cups, bowls, egg boxes, egg cups, ice cube trays. Top tip: many weaning pots come on plastic trays, which make brilliant sorting and placing trays!

4. Yellow pen

A super tip I picked up whilst working with little people: use yellow pen or even better yellow colouring pencil (feel the pencil groove) to write names, words or patterns. Your child then has the satisfaction of copying over the yellow with a writing pencil or coloured felt tip, which not only is a skill in itself, but also it allows them to see their ‘own’ writing, which you just don’t get with following dots or dashes.

5. ConstructionScissor Photo

Building, connecting and destroying all aid motor control. Here are the alternative options to the bought construction sets. Junk modelling, loo/kitchen towel roll towers, plastic crockery and cutlery animals, stick figures and making leaf pictures. Top tip: marshmallows and spaghetti are great fun as constructing materials!

I hope you enjoy having fun with these suggestions.

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