It is SPRING at last! I love spring because it is the perfect time to go outside and do some different activities. There have been several articles I have seen recently about the decline educators, and other professionals are seeing in fine motor skills.
Spring brings new opportunities to go outside, enjoy the warmer weather and incorporate different activities to promote fine motor skill development. The fine motor skills we will be addressing in the post have to do with the muscles that control the small movements in your fingers, wrists and hands. These can be encouraged through fun, outdoor activities.
Gardening offers many ways for you to get your hands dirty and develop different muscles in your fingers and hands.
- Planting seeds is an excellent activity, and it involves several different movements. You start out by using your finger push down on the soil and make a hole for the seed to go in. Next, you need to pick up the seed between your thumb and pointer finger with a pincer grasp and place it in the hole. Placing the seed in the hole will work on finger strength and hand/eye coordination. Once the seed is in the hole, you need to cover the seed and the hole up with soil using your hands. Then using a spray bottle or watering can lightly water the area where you planted seeds.
- Weeding the garden provides lots of opportunities to grab weeds of different sizes and pull them out. Smaller weeds can be done with just your thumb and forefingers while larger weeds require you to grab them with your fist to pull them out. If they are really stuck, you can grab a trowel or hand rake to help loosen up the soil and the roots around the weed. Pulling weeds of different sizes builds finger strength and requires coordination of the various movements in the hand. Weeding is an activity that can be done year-round just when you think you have finished, more weeds seem to pop up.
- Picking flowers. The flower that you pick will dictate the best method for picking them. My children love to pick me dandelions, buttercups and daisies when we go for walks in the park. These flowers are easy enough to pick by just pinching your fingers together and giving a bit of a pull. For larger flowers with a tougher stem, it is better to use scissors or pruners to cut the flower off the plant.
Every spring when the weather is warmer, it is nice to wash away the gloominess of the winter. It isn’t as fun as the other activities I have listed, but there are some things in life we have to do anyway and to quote Mary Poppins
- Washing the mirrors and windows Spraying the glass with a spray cleaner involves squeezing the trigger with your index and middle finger while using the rest of your fingers to hold the bottle and uses the whole hand. After you have sprayed the glass, you use fingers to put pressure on the cloth while wiping the surface clean.
- Washing outdoor furniture and toys Winter weather brings dirt dust and mud to things kept outside. Washing them with a wet rag can make things look so much brighter. Carrying around a pail of water and giving everything a good wipe down will build strength in the hands and forearms.
Chalk Art on the Sidewalk
It is very easy to spend hours and hours drawing with chalk on the sidewalk. There are many different shapes and sizes of chalk you can get. It can be fun to have someone trace around your body and then colour yourself in. There are several different stencils, and kits you can buy for additional ideas or you can do what children have been doing for decades and make pictures, draw mazes or play hopscotch. Once you have finished drawing, you can make a game of using spray bottles or wet sponges to wipe away the drawings.
Blowing and popping bubbles can be so much fun and provide lasting entertainment. There are so many aspects of bubbles that can help with fine motor skills. To start off with, you need to use both hands to twist open the container. Then you need to use your fingers to pinch to get the wand out of the container. You pinch the wand while you blow the bubbles and then again to dip the wand in to get more bubble solution.
Once the bubbles are blown, you can try to catch them with your wand, pop them with a pointed finger, catch them in your hand or pop them with a clap.
On a sunny day, you can do it anywhere. It can be fun to take bubbles with you to the park or the beach.
To extend the enjoyment, you can involve your children in making the bubble solution by having them help you make it at home. The recipe I use is
- 3 cups warm water
- 1 cup dish soap
- ½ cup light corn syrup
Ask the children to help measure out the ingredients and pour it into a container. Once all the ingredients are together, give them a whisk to mix the solution together.
Depending on their age, you can even get them to make their own bubble wands with pipe cleaners or wires and beads. Some other ideas for different wands are straws, a loop of string between two sticks, kitchen utensils with holes in them, making a bubble snake blower with an old sock and an empty pop bottle or some cookie cutters.
All you have to do is look at Pinterest to find different spring arts and craft ideas such as finger painting, painting with Q-tips or pom poms or stamping to name a few.
I made these Cherry Blossom trees with my children and even though it isn’t Pinterest worthy, we had fun doing it.
*Please note, I am not an Occupational Therapist but I have worked with them on fine motor skill development with my children and have researched ways to promote fine motor skills.