Play is a child’s primary occupation. The occupations of a person are the meaningful and purposeful activities and adults have distinctly different occupations than children. A child develops functional skills, learns about their abilities, grows in motor, language, interpersonal skills, and learn the value of their capacities, all through play.
And toys and games are tools of function when it comes to using play to build independence in all tasks.
Today, I’m sharing ways to work on fine motor skills through play.
Use play to develop fine motor skills:
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Improve Isolation of the fingers through Play- Isolating the individual fingers is needed for tasks such as typing, pointing, and tasks that require moving indivisual fingers in isolation from the rest og the hand. These skills can be difficult for some children and result in poor pencil grasp and handwriting, shoe tying difficulties, and
Finger Isolation Play ideas
- Finger games (Where is Thumbkin, Itsy Bitsy Spider)
- Finger puppets
- Finger painting
- Fingerprint art
- Finger Trap
- Animal Shadows on a wall
- Count on individual fingers one at a time
- Paper Football
Motoric Separation of the Two Sides of the Hands- Separation of the two sides of
- Flip coins
- Roll play dough into small balls
- Squeeze a spray bottle with the pointer and middle fingers
- Pick up small items and “squirrel them away” into the hands: mini marshmallows, cereal, small beads, coins, waterbeads. (This is also called translation toward the palm.)
- Release the items (This is also called translation away from the palm.) Place coins into a piggy bank or beads into a cup.
- Hold a cotton ball in the palm with the ring and middle fingers while coloring, writing, or cutting with scissors.
- Using tools like a hammer or screwdriver
- Threading beads
- Scrubbing and “cleaning” with a towel on walls and windows
- Driving cars on a floor mat
- Scooping beans and beads with spoons, shovels, or scoops
- Catching and tossing bean bags into a target
- Opening and shutting plastic ziplock bags
opposition of the thumb to the precision side of the hand. A round “O” shape
allows the thumb to rotate and oppose the pointer finger in pincer grasp activities. When kids write or color with that web space area squashed shut, it’s a sign of problems. Then might be compensating for thumb instability, underdeveloped hand arches, and/or poor strength. Each of these problem areas will lead to difficulties with handwriting, dexterity, manipulation of small items like beads, and pencil grasp. Writing with a closed web space is inefficient and will cause poor and slow handwriting, especially as kids grow and are expected to write at faster speeds. A closed web space while attempting to manage fasteners such as buttons and zippers will lead to fumbling and difficulty.
- Perler Fuse Beads with Pegboards
- Stamp sets
- Tweezer games and activities
- Bed Bugs Game
- Avalanche Fruit Stand
- The Perfection Game
- Manipulating beads or pegs on an inclined surface.
- Pick-Up Sticks
- Tobbles stacking toy
- Blocks like Wooden Color Cubes are perfect for simple block building and stacking while working on precision of grasp and release.
- Slide Puzzles for precision of the thumb’s movements.
- Threading string into a needle for embroidary art.
- Beading with string
- Quickels or
- Sort small items
- Art or play with tape
hand and fingers that are used in play with children. Difficulties in using and
maintaining any certain grasp may interfere with tasks that require using the
hands. Types of grasp patterns include:
carpometacarpal joint. Opposition of the thumb to the fingertips is essential
for tasks such as holding a hairbrush, managing buttons, and even grasping a door
knob. Thump opposition coincides with an open web space in functional tasks.
Thumb Opposition Play Ideas-
objects of all shapes and sizes. There are two transverse arches that cross the hand at the
carpals and at the metacarpals. There is a longitudinal arch for each finger. These arches
allow for skilled movements of the hands and first develop during crawling. Arch development
is essential for manipulating small objects such as a writing utensil.
Palmer Arch Development Play Ideas-
ovement of an object from the fingers to the palm i.e. picking up a coin and moving it to the palm. Movement of an object from the palm to the finger tips. (i.e. moving a coin from the palm to the fingertips to insert into a vending machine.) Slight adjustment of an object on or by the finger pads. (i.e. adjusting a pencil up and down in your hand.) Turning or rolling an object 90 degrees or less with the fingers moving as a unit. (i.e. unscrewing a toothpaste lid). Turning an object more than 90 degrees using isolated finger and thumb movements. (i.e. Turning a paper clip)
- Lite Brite
- Lacing & Tracing Dinosaurs
- Lacing & Tracing Sea Life
- HABA Color Peg
- Peg Board with 1000 Pegs
- Manipulating coins is such a great way to work on in-hand manipulation. A Coinasaurus Bank is a fun bank to practice with!
- Spinning tops like Standard Tops
- Ker Plunk Game
together in a coordinated manner. It’s coordinating both hands together and is closely related
to hand dominance. When a child has an established hand dominance, there needs to be a
fluid use of the two hands together. In development of the child, children use both hands
together then progress to using one hand at a time and finally using both hands together.
Refined bilateral coordination skills allow a child to use both hands in separate tasks fluidly.
Bilateral Coordination Play Ideas-
fingers are strength and stabilization of the wrist. Control in the writst allows for
manipulation of small items and grasps with the fingers A functional position for the wrist
in most activities requiring fine motor skills is slight extension and neutral positioning.
This is an optimal position for handwriting or tasks such as manipulating buttons.
Other activities like using a toothbrush or managing a utensil during feeding require
slight ulnar deviation. Stabilization of the wrist is essential no matter what the task.
In order to allow precision of fine motor tasks, the wrist should be stabilized in extension
with precision tasks performed on a vertical surface, putting the wrist into optimal
positioning and facilitating thumb abduction for distal work to the fingers.
Wrist and Hand Development Play Ideas-
- Painting on a chalkboard or easel
- Vertically positioning a Magna Doodle, Etch a Sketch, or pegboard