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!
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.
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
Creative DIY Lacing Cards and 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.