The Most Creative Lacing Cards and Fine Motor Skills

Fine motor development is essential for so many tasks.  Kids begin their fine motor skills development as soon as they are placed in tummy time as an infant.  While the manipulation of small motor muscles in activities like lacing cards and handwriting doesn’t come until much later, the building blocks for success in tool manipulation and dexterity is established within days of birth.

Because fine motor skills are used in so many of our daily functions, it can be frustrating for kids (and their parents or teachers!) when manipulation and dexterity of the hands and fingers are a struggle.

Today, I’m sharing in inside scoop on how lacing cards boost fine motor skills and creative ways to further develop those skills through creation of DIY lacing cards, in unique process art ways!

Use lacing cards to address fine motor skills with kids in the classroom, home, or therapy clinic.

Lacing Cards and Fine Motor Skills

When kids thread a string through a lacing card, they are doing much more than establishing a baseline of sewing skills.  The motor movements required to perform this activity are powerful.  In fact, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to know that many Occupational Therapists use lacing cards as a power tool, i.e. a therapy treatment tool that addresses many common goal areas in kids.

Lacing cards and fine motor skills are great for building skills needed in tasks.

Let’s talk about the skills needed to manage and lace up a lacing card:

Bilateral Coordination-  In order to hold the lacing card and the string or ribbon, kids need to be able to manipulate and coordinate both hands together in a functional way.  They need to bring both hands to midline and work with one hand moving as a manipulating hand to move and thread the string.  The other hand, typically the non-dominant hand works as an assisting hand to hold the lacing card.  Both hands, wrists, and shoulders need to work together to position the card and string in a coordinated fashion.  

Read more about bilateral coordination activities.

Tripod grasp or Pincer grasp-  Depending on the size of the lacing card holes and the thickness of the string, different types of pinching grasps can be used with the dominant hand.  it is common for these grasps to vary during and throughout the task of lacing a single card.  One thing is consistent though and that is the fact that the fingers are working in a functional way that is beneficial for pencil grasp and manipulation of small items such as needles, beads, and clothing fasteners.  

Here is more information about a pincer grasp and activities to address this skill.

Separation of the two sides of the hand- When holding the string, it is useful for the ring and pinkie fingers to bend into a fist in order to stabilize the hand.  This positioning is effective for a functional grasp on the pencil when writing. In this way, lacing cards boost fine motor skills as a pre-writing tool. 

Check out these easy ideas to address motoric separation of the hand.

Visual Motor Skills- Coordinating visual information with motor movements of the hands is essential for handwriting, cutting with scissors, and many other tasks.  Manipulating lacing cards is an excellent way to address these needs. 

Read more about visual motor skills.

Motor Planning- A motor plan is functional execution of a task which is viewed with the eyes and carried out with the hands in order to complete tasks, such as mazes, walking around obstacles, cutting along a line, and writing within a space on a form.  Visual motor skills can be difficult for children with visual processing difficulties.  Identifying and organizing information is in a motor plan works on problem solving skills.  

Read more about motor planning activities for kids.


Process Art DIY Lacing Cards 

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While there are many lacing cards available on the market, it can be a lot of fun (and quite beneficial) to make your own lacing cards.  We had a blast making a big set of lacing cards recently, using inspiration from Barbara Rucci’s new book, Art Workshop for Children.  
We were lucky to receive a book to check out and WOW! What a resource for developing creativity and inspiration in kids.  I loved flipping through every page with my kids as we picked out project after project to complete.  
One of the art projects that stood out to me, is the watercolor lacing cards activity.  As an Occupational Therapist, I was drawn to the fine motor goldmine with this activity.
We were inspired by the watercolor lacing cards in the book and HAD to make our own.  Just like the extended activity ideas that are included with every art activity in Art Workshop for Children, I had to get my kids creating by making their own colorful and creative lacing cards.
So often you see printable lacing cards that are very cookie cutter.  There are so many on the market that are simple shapes and single colors or images.  These are fun and completely perfect for boosting the fine motor skills needed for functional tasks.

Use art supplies to make your own lacing cards and address fine motor skills.


However, when we saw the creative opportunity in Art Workshop for Children, we had to get busy with the fine motor development!

Creative DIY Lacing Cards and Fine Motor Skills

I set up our dining room table with a bunch of supplies:

Paper plates

I didn’t have to do much in the way of instruction with this creative activity.  My kids were drawn to the paints and paint brushes like kids to candy.  They got busy painting, dripping, splotting, and dumping.  It was fun to hear the comments about glitter and paint mixing and I laughed because it reminded me of the “Overheard” sidebar comments in the Art Workshops for Children book.

Glitter and watercolors are all you need for creative lacing cards and fine motor skills development in kids.
Use glitter glue to make creative lacing cards and fine motor skills development.
Just making the watercolors were a fine motor goldmine.  Squeezing glitter glue tubes, sprinkling glitter, and painting with paint brushes of all sizes worked those intrinsic muscles of the hands. 

Use watercolor cakes to paint lacing cards and address fine motor skills.

Kids can make lacing cards for fine motor skills.

One surprising way that we worked on fine motor skills was using old water color cakes.  I pulled the cakes right from the water color set and showed my kids how to dip them into water and then draw on the paper.  Pinching the wet and messy watercolor cake was a great sensory experience that promoted a tripod grasp.  This is a great way to strengthen the intrinsic muscles of the hand and promote arch development needed for endurance in tasks such as coloring and writing.

Once our paintings were dry, my oldest daughter and I cut them into large shapes and used a hole punch to create lacing cards.  We used yarn to thread around the holes.  I showed my kids how to stitch the holes in two different ways, going up and down through the holes and also around the edge of the lacing card.  Both techniques great for addressing the fine motor skills described above.

Kids love to make their own lacing cards for addressing fine motor skills.
Lacing cards and fine motor skills go hand in hand with creative activities.
These gorgeous watercolor lacing cards are perfect for developing fine motor skills in kids and are great addition to any home, classroom, or therapy clinic…from start to finish!  We’ll save our lacing cards and use them again and again! 

I am so excited to be on the Art Workshop for Children blogging team.  You can read more about the book here and read more about the creative activities in the book. 
Consider adding Art Workshop for Children to your holiday shopping list!  Pair the book with art supplies for a creative and unique gift idea that kids of all ages will love.  Teachers and therapists will find this book beneficial for the classroom or clinic, too. 

Grab the Art Workshop for Children book for creative art ideas.

Who do you know that would love a creating art gift like this?

Lacing cards and fine motor skills are great for developing the strength in the hands for handwriting and pencil grasp.