Babies and toddlers learn and develop everyday through play by experiencing new textures, sounds, colours, patterns and tasks. You don’t need to buy expensive toys in order to encourage their development. There are tonnes of fun games and activities you can play with your little one, using items from around the home. Something as simple as a saucepan and wooden spoon makes an excellent drum kit or can be used for cooking roleplay!
To help develop these skills through play, we’ve come up with five fun activities that will help to develop fine motor skills whilst playing at home.
Colouring pictures and being creative with stickers or stamps are not only an essential part of arts and crafts, but they are key for your child’s fine motor development too! If you search ‘line drawings for children’ on the internet, there is a huge resource of free colouring-in designs to chose from, which you can print out at home.
Keep broken crayons for slightly older toddler and pre-schoolers! Because colouring with small, broken crayons encourages your child to hold the crayon correctly i.e. in a pincer / tripod grip between thumb and forefingers rather than in a ‘palmer’ or fist grip. Small pieces of chalk and the pencils used on mini-golf courses also work well. No matter what you use, this activity is a fun way to challenge your child.
Playing with stickers is another great activity for encouraging fine motor skill development, as it requires finger and thumb coordination to peel off the stickers. Little ones can get creative by decorating a large piece of paper stuck to a wall, a scene quickly drawn by mum (see my recent attempt below!) or cut out shapes to decorate – stars work really well. For slightly older children drawing thick wiggly lines on a large sheet of paper and asking them to stick dots side by side along it, is a great activity that will keep them occupied whilst at the same time developing concentration and coordination.
Stamping is another great way to open up the hand and develop finger strength and control. A great fun and cheap method is the good old potato stamp, where you cut a potato in half and carve out a pattern or shape on the flat, freshly cut surface, before letting your little one dip it in paint and stamp to their heart’s content. Alternatively, you can buy stamp sets for a few pounds online or from larger supermarkets, if you want a quick activity without mess of paint!
4. Play Dough
Play dough has been a childhood favourite for decades. Not only is it great fun, but handling play dough also develops some important skills. Squeezing, stretching, pulling and shaping all helps to strengthen finger muscles, and touching it is a valuable sensory experience. You can make play dough at home and follow the link for a great long lasting, homemade recipe: https://theimaginationtree.com/best-ever-no-cook-play-dough-recipe/
5. Pasta Necklaces
Stringing together necklaces is a great way for your child to be creative while working on their hand-eye coordination and developing ability to manipulate objects. The best way to start is with thick string and large pieces of tube-shaped dry pasta. Over time you can reduce the thickness of the string and use smaller pasta shapes to make it more complex. This is a great activity for both boys and girls. Alternatively, you can swap string for pipe cleaners in order to create fun shapes. Another option is to paint the pasta and let it dry before assembling to make it more colourful.
The clever and innovative design of Doddl cutlery helps develop children’s fine motor skills whilst they are learning to feed themselves. These skills are essential for a wide variety of tasks such as writing and drawing, using scissors, doing up buttons and any task that involves coordination and control between the thumb and fingers.
Good luck and happy making!!