Young kids love musical chairs. Part of it is the mad dash to claim the last seat in the room, but part of it is the excitement of the music, and the scramble that ensues when it turns on and off. Take some of that spirit and incorporate it into an indoor obstacle course of sorts. You’ll set up 8 stations across your living room, invite a bunch of your child’s friends, and get the music cued and ready to go. Underneath the fun, each of the stations helps kids fine-tune their motor skills, which will help strengthen their hands for writing.
Station 1: Cutting Draw several thick lines from one end of a paper to the other. Your child will use scissors to cut on the lines. If your child can already cut well in a line, try drawing some shapes for him to cut out.
Station 2: Stringing beads Place a shoelace and some beads at the station and have your child string the beads. You can also string cheerios or other o shaped cereal (or anything else that has a hole in the middle).
Station 3: Tower building Place 8-12 small blocks at the station and have your child build a tower. Or make something (a bridge or house) out of the blocks and have your child copy the structure.
Station 4: Lacing Take a piece of cardboard and punch holes around the outside. Have your child use a piece of yarn (with a piece of tape wrapped around its end) and "lace" the board, by bringing the yarn down one hole and up through another hole. Continue until all of the holes are laced. (You can also use an old shoelace for this activity.)
Station 5: Puzzles Place a puzzle or two at this station for your child to complete.
Station 6: Copying Draw several shapes on a piece of paper and have your child copy the shapes using a crayon, pencil, or marker.
Station 7: Tracing Draw several shapes or figures using a yellow marker. Have your child trace the shapes or figures using a crayon or pencil.
Station 8: Pinching Place some rice and a small cup at this station. Your child should use his pincer grasp (thumb and pointer finger) to place one piece of rice at a time into the cup. This may seem like a random set of stations, but each of these activities gives your child a boost towards the muscle strength and coordination she’ll need for writing. Plus, they’re just plain fun!
Sarah Richards has an M.A. in Early Childhood Development and a B.S. in Child Development. She's spent 6 years teaching kindergarten and first grade. Before that, she was a child development specialist for young children with special needs. She has also worked in the preschool classroom.