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Fine Motor Skill Development

By — Pearson Allyn Bacon Prentice Hall
Updated on Jul 20, 2010

Materials to Develop the Pincer Grasp

Learning to use the pincer grasp (where children use the thumb and index finger to pick up a small item) is a critical fine motor skill. When children use the pincer grasp, it is important that the web space or the space formed by holding the thumb and finger together be rounded. This allows the child to hold a pencil or other tool in a way that is less tiring for the hand. The pincer grasp can be developed by materials such as

  • A sieve with colored toothpicks for inserting through the holes (using colored toothpicks allows children to classify by color if they wish).
  • Colorforms or stickers to place on paper.
  • Eyedroppers to move water from one container to another.
  • Tweezers, tongs, or spoons to move glass marbles, beads, shells, or pinecones from one place to another.
  • Wooden chopsticks that are tied together at the top with a rubber band to pick up pompoms.
  • A Lite Brite.
  • Pins to push into a paper with a cork board underneath to punch out a design of choice.
  • Buckles to open and close and shoes to tie (at Bright Beginnings Preschool an actual shoe is nailed to the wall for children to lace and tie).
  • A sunflower with tweezers to remove the seeds.
  • A rubber band ball for removing and adding rubber bands.

Materials to Strengthen Grasping and Squeezing

Following are some materials to enhance grasping and squeezing:

  • A plant sprayer and colored paper so that children can spray a design on the paper.
  • A paper puncher, many different types of paper, and a beautiful container to hold the punches. The punches can be used for other activities.
  • A turkey baster and cotton balls (the child can blow the cotton ball across the table with the baster).
  • Squeeze toys such as toys whose eyes bulge when squeezed.
  • Clothespins that are used to attach items to a clothesline (the clothesline can be placed on the wall of the manipulative area).
  • Sponges and basters. In a Montessori program, the manipulative shelves included a tray furnished with a baster, a pitcher of colored water, and two glasses. Children pour the water into one of the glasses and use the baster to move the water to the other glass. Another tray includes a pitcher of water, two small bowls, and a sponge. The child pours the water from the pitcher into one dish and then uses the sponge to move the water from that dish to another one.
  • A nutcracker with nuts to crack (nuts can later be eaten for snack).

Materials to Strengthen Bilateral Coordination

Bilateral coordination is using both hands together or using one hand for one thing while using the other for something else (holding paper with one hand while cutting with the other). Following are manipulative materials that enhance bilateral coordination:

  • Cotton balls to pull apart (these can then be used to glue onto a picture or to make a project).
  • Beads to string into necklaces.
  • Pop beads to put together and pull apart.
  • A stapler and paper.
  • Lacing cards.
  • Cards that show a clapping rhythm for children to imitate.
  • A child’s shirt to practice buttoning (Joanne, a preschool teacher, took the shirt and placed it over a frame, making it easier to button).
  • Two clear jars (one containing colored water) and a funnel on a tray. Children can pour water from one jar through the funnel into the other jar.
  • Paper for folding airplanes or origami.
  • Newspaper for tearing (the newspaper can be used for collages, paper mache, or other art products).
  • Beautiful small coin purses to unzip and find the treasure.
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