If you’ve spent any amount of time with me, on my social media, or in my classroom you know I will get on my soapbox when it comes to fine motor skills. They are so so so important and so so so simple to practice. However, that doesn’t mean that they always get the time and attention they deserve, but don’t worry, I’m here to give them all that attention and more!
Fine motor skills refer to the ability to use small muscles in the hands and wrists to perform precise movements, such as grasping a pencil or buttoning a shirt. These skills are important for toddlers because they lay the foundation for future development, learning, and independence.
Research has shown that fine motor skills are closely related to a child's overall development and success in school. Children with well-developed fine motor skills tend to have better hand-eye coordination, which is crucial for activities such as writing, drawing, and using scissors. They may also have an easier time learning to read and write, as these tasks require precise hand movements.
Fine motor skills are also important for a child's self-care and independence. Toddlers with strong fine motor skills will be able to dress themselves, brush their teeth, and perform other daily tasks without assistance. This sense of independence is important for a child's self-esteem and overall well-being.
There are many ways to help toddlers develop their fine motor skills. Some activities that may be helpful include:
Playdough: Squeezing and shaping playdough helps to strengthen the muscles in the hands and fingers.
Coloring and drawing: Using crayons, markers, and other art supplies helps to develop hand-eye coordination and fine motor control.
Beading: Stringing beads onto a string or pipe cleaner requires precise hand movements and helps to develop fine motor skills.
Cutting with scissors: Cutting along a straight or curved line helps to develop hand-eye coordination and fine motor control.
I like to keep a myriad of tools at my house and in my classrooms to practice fine motor skills. Most, if not all, of these tools are fun for kids to use and they are excited to use them. This means they don’t even realize the practice they are getting!
Here’s a list of my go-to fine motor development tools:
- JUMBO TWEEZERS: I throw these in their sensory bins, use them for grabbing pom poms, counting and moving pom poms, etc. They really work those tiny hand muscles!
- WOODEN PUZZLES: Wooden puzzles with knobs on the pieces are perfect for working that pincer grasp.
- DOT STICKERS: The act of removing the sticker and putting it on a paper is great for fine motor development. And what kid doesn’t love stickers?!
- EASEL PAPER: I tape this to the wall and let my kids draw or do activities. Writing on a vertical surface is great for pencil grip.
- TRIANGULAR CRAYONS: Again, this enforces good pencil grip and strengthens those hand muscles.
- ICE CUBE TRAYS: So many sorting/math/pattern/counting activities you can do with this, pom poms, and some jumbo tweezers!
- POM POMS: Use with sensory bins, by themselves, or with tweezers or the handy scooper!
- HANDY SCOOPER: My kids love this in their sensory bins! Again, its great for those small hand muscles!
- MELISSA & DOUG LATCHES BOARD: Practical fine motor practice with latches that your child will likely see in everyday life!
In summary, fine motor skills are important for toddlers because they are closely related to a child's overall development and success in school, and they are essential for a child's self-care and independence. Engaging in activities that promote the development of fine motor skills can help toddlers build the skills they need to succeed in the future.