Fine Motor Skill Development (page 2)

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

Materials to Strengthen Eye–Hand Coordination

This refers to focusing and coordinating eye movement and the processing of visual input to control and direct the hands to accomplish desired tasks (Johansson, Westling, Bäckström & Flanagan). Some materials that encourage eye–hand coordination are

  • Golf tees, with clay or Styrofoam to pound the golf tees into.
  • Nails and a wood stump to hammer nails into.
  • Poker chips and a covered potato chip can with a slit in the lid for inserting the chips.
  • A variety of items to pour (water, aquarium gravel) and dishes to pour them into.
  • A wire strainer, pebbles, and two dishes for transferring the pebbles from one dish to another.
  • Peas to shell (these can later be used for lunch or snack).
  • Nesting dolls to stack together.
  • Games such as Pick Up Sticks, Barrel of Monkeys, Operation, Bedbugs, and Don’t Spill the Beans.
  • Small building materials such as 1 inch blocks, legos, tinker toys, gears, Lincoln logs, bristle blocks, marble rolls, and erector sets.
  • A variety of types of puzzles.

Materials to Enhance Wrist Rotation

Wrist rotation includes being able to perform a twisting motion with the wrist. This is necessary for everyday activities such as opening doorknobs. Some materials that promote wrist rotation include

  • Lids and jars to match (provide a variety of different interesting jars and lids).
  • Nuts and bolts to screw together.
  • Padlocks and keys to open and close (provide several different padlocks).
  • Screws, wood to screw them into, and screwdrivers.
  • Items to take apart (hair dryer, toaster, carburetor) with a screwdriver or nut remover.
  • An Etch-a-Sketch.
  • A flashlight for taking apart and reassembling.

Materials to Enhance Wrist Stability

Children’s wrist stability is enhanced by using a vertical surface. Make sure your manipulative area includes some vertical surface work. If there is not room on the walls, consider tabletop easels.

Materials to Enhance Finger Dexterity or Moving Individual Fingers in Isolation

Children often develop finger dexterity while performing finger plays. To extend this activity to the manipulative area, you can add finger puppets (one for each finger) that the child can use to retell a familiar story, song, or finger play. Providing a typewriter for children ages 4 to 8 can also allow children to develop finger dexterity but only if they are using all the fingers as they type.

Materials to Develop the Arches of the Hand (General Hand Development)

There are several materials that are used in therapy to help develop the arches. These can also be used in an early childhood setting with preschool and K–3 children. These materials include

  • Small tongs or clothespins to pick up small objects, such as beads or cotton balls. Children can classify these objects into sorting trays.
  • Small items (pennies, marbles, plastic bugs) with teacher-created cards. The card contains a picture of the type of item and the number of items to hold in your cupped hand. The child draws a card and completes that challenge.
  • Games that include dice (the child shakes the dice in her cupped hands until she reaches a number spun on a dial).
  • Sock puppets (the child can make the puppet “talk” by opening and closing her hand).
  • Plastic packing bubbles to pop with the fingers and palm.
  • Tomy Waterfuls (games where the top is filled with water and you move small objects by pushing a button) (Myers, 1992).

Materials to Enhance Cutting

Cutting may occur in the art area, writing area, or the manipulative area. Children typically progress through developmental stages in cutting. They are first able to cut play dough with a plastic knife or scissors, next snip paper into small pieces, then fringe paper, and finally cut lines (creating strips for paper chains or cutting out newspaper comic strips). At the next stage, children are able to cut out geometric shapes, turning the paper with their holding hand. It is easier for children to cut with high-quality scissors using paper that is card weight.

Special Considerations for Infants and Toddlers

Some of the previously mentioned materials are appropriate for infants and toddlers such as pop together beads or colorforms to place on and pull off surfaces. Infant manipulative materials may be in baskets on the floor with each basket containing groups of similar items. It is recommended that toddlers age 2 or older have a formally designed manipulative area (Texas Child Care, 2005). Some manipulative materials that are suitable for infants and toddlers include

  • A basket of different types of rattles.
  • An assortment of small boxes to open and close, each filled with a surprise (stuffed toy, unbreakable mirror glued inside, jewelry, shiny key chain).
  • Nesting boxes, bowls, or butter tubs to stack.
  • Pots and pans with lids to take off and on.
  • A decorated coffee can or hot chocolate can with a hole in the top with items that fit through the hole (the items can be changed when children lose interest in the current items).
  • An empty tissue box with scarves to pull out.
  • Simple puzzles.
  • Busy boxes.
  • Duplos or other snap-together building blocks.
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