The summer months mean outdoor play! That doesn’t mean that the fine motor development needs to stop. Today, I’ve got fun ways to build fine motor skills using a simple pack of sidewalk chalk.
You can grab a pack of sidewalk chalk at the dollar store. We love to buy up the end of year clearance sales and have new packs ready to go at the start of the summer months. These fine motor activities are perfect for outdoor summer play while hanging out with the kids.
Drawing on a sidewalk or driveway is a great way to encourage increased strength of the hands. There are a few things happening when kids get down on the ground to play with chalk. First, they are getting into a different position. Whether in quadruped or sitting on the ground, the core muscles are engaged.
Read more about core strengthening here.
Try to encourage kids to draw big, so that they are really reaching out with their arms to support their upper body as well as putting weight through their supporting arm. This is a nice way to add proprioceptive input, too.
Use Chalk to Build Fine Motor Skills
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Next, use that pack of chalk to get to work on fine motor skills! You can use a box of regular chalkboard chalk, or you can use a few jumbo sidewalk chalk pieces. The key with the jumbo pieces is to get them smaller for the hands to really develop the skills they need for holding a pencil and writing.
One fun activity is to use a rock or a hammer to smash the chalk into smaller pieces. All you need is a chunk of chalk. Kids really get into this part of the fun, and it’s a nice upper body and heavy work strengthening activity, too.
Once you have smaller pieces, use them in the following ways to develop fine motor skills:
- Draw circles and color them in. Drawing connecting lines on a resistive surface like the sidewalk promotes the visual motor skills needed for letter formation and line placement when writing letters.
- Play word games like hangman, Tick Tack Toe (Use letters in place of “x” and “o”), and hopscotch with words in the boxes.
- Get the chalk dust wet and draw with your fingers. This is a great way to encourage finger isolation and separation of the two sides of the hands.
- Use that wet chalk dust to create DIY liquid chalk paint. Paint it on paper to promote tool use (paintbrushes of different sizes). Then, use bamboo skewers, lollipop sticks, or craft sticks to scrape lines and words into the paint. Can you scrape your name in the paint before it dries?
- Color with a small chalk piece onto rocks of various sizes. What an activity this is! Holding the rock in one hand while coloring with the small chalk chunk is a bilateral hand activity that provides heavy input through the assisting hand. This promotes an awareness of the non-dominant hand while the dominant hand colors in the rock. The rock will need to manipulated within the hand, allowing for arch development and intrinsic hand strength. (Developing fine motor skills in the non-dominant hand is important too! Think about tying shoes, typing and other bilateral activities that require fine motor skill development in both hands.)
- Write words on bricks and then move them to make crazy sentences. We love the magnet word games that you can make silly sentences with on the fridge. This outdoor version is just as much fun, but adds heavy work input that is calming and silly at the same time! Work together for a fine motor (and gross motor) activity that the kids won’t forget!
- Write on a brick wall. Then squirt it with a squeeze spray bottle. This is another fine motor powerhouse activity. Writing on a vertical surface has SO many benefits. From encouraging an extended wrist, to strengthening the arm, to promoting the whole body to look up for better posture, breathing, and lung capacity. There is also the fine motor benefits: Promoting dexterity in the precision side of the hand and separation of the two sides of the hand. Plus, writing on the bricks provides a resistive surface that promotes motor planning and strengthening for motor memory related to letter formation. Write on bricks like cement block bricks as opposed to house bricks for better letter formation practice. THEN, use a squeeze bottle to erase the words! This promotes gross grasp strength of the power side of the hand, separation of the two sides of the hand, and visual motor integration as kids aim and squeeze. This is one handwriting activity that kids will love!
What are your favorite ways to practice fine motor skills with chalk during the summer months? Let us know on our Facebook page. We would love to see them!
Looking for more ways to promote development using chalk? Try these motor planning activities that use sidewalk chalk. They are the perfect addition to your summer days.
These fine motor activities that use sidewalk chalk would be a great addition to our summer sensory handwriting camp. Sneak those fine motor skills and handwriting work into sensory play fun this summer!