June 17, 2008

Fine Motor Skills

In the last few weeks of school, Jordyn worked on strengthening the muscles in her hands. For her and at age 5, she is still a bit weak on the fine motor end. Knowing that these skills are very much needed for succesful writing in the future, we asked a friend who is an occupational therapist for a simple evaluation. Through just talking with her, it is good to know there is not a serious concern, but she gave several great tips on activities to do beyond what we've tried.

One of Jordyn's favorites has been the clothespins! For this activity, our OT friend told us it was important to hold and pinch the pin with the thumb on top & fingers in back. The string or clothesline should also be eye level. In our picture above, Jordyn is standing up, but was sitting down for this activity. She simply decided for the picture that 'everyone should see my dress and new bracelet'. That girl.

Another activity is transferring items such as cotton balls or cheerios from one bowl to another (or a plate, etc) with a set of tongs. Because Jordyn adores the flashy, the fancy and stays away from anything plain, our cotton balls are shimmery and glittery :: a great dollar store purchase!! And yes, please notice another new bracelet.

Other fine motor strengthening tips:

:: play with clay, it is harder than play-doh

:: cut a small hole in the top of a plastic container and have the child push beans or pasta through the top. the hole should be small enough that it takes a bit of effort to push the item in.

:: a hole punch! draw a simple shape on paper and have them punch around the shape. then use a piece of string to lace.

:: crumple newspaper into a ball using only one hand

:: spray bottles! let them spray plants with water or 'clean' an item using sponges, etc.

:: if you have a magna-doodle, turn it upside down so that the eraser is on top

:: obviously, if the child can use scissors, lots of cutting, cutting, cutting. Jordyn cuts out all of our coupons {later, the ones we don't use are thrown out}.

:: work at a vertical surface as much as possible~ painting or drawing w/chalk at an easel. If you don't have an easel, tape a piece of paper to the fridge. Working at a vertical surface helps to develop hand control at the shoulder, which is a pre-cursor to more refined motor control at the hand

:: and a last one...don't throw out those old broken-up crayon pieces! have the child work at coloring with a small piece of crayon (1 to 2"); this 'forces' them to use the tripod grasp needed for writing (2 fingers opposed to the thumb).

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