Tag Archives: fine motor skills

Learning to Glue (Mess-free!)

24 Jan

Freestyle has recently been very interested in learning to use scissors and glue after using them at the drop-in school program that we attend. Since they were set out and ready to go, I didn’t do a sit-down formal lesson on scissor use (definitely not necessary to do this for everything a toddler needs to learn, I feel!). I just showed her quickly how to hold them: thumb in the smaller handle hole and her pointer and middle in the wider one (though she is using three fingers right now…is that normal because their fingers are so small? I wonder if I should correct it or let it be for now).

I also made sure she knew how to carry them if she needed to: close the scissors and cover the outside of the blades with your hand, keeping your arm stiff while pointing the handles of the scissors towards the ground. She still needs reminders with this one! It is unsettling to see her walking towards me with them open in her hands!

For gluing, I liked how the Casa students in one of my old schools were taught to use white glue and taught Freestyle that method. I liked how they did it because it was neat and efficient– the child doesn’t end up using gobs of glue and turning their work into a wet and wrinkly mess. I remember when I was a kid, I didn’t like using white glue because it would make the paper wrinkly. When I was in elementary we used  glue sticks more often and I liked how much neater it was, but I do think that white glue is easier (thought messier) for younger kids to use.

So, without much further ado…

 

How to Neatly Use White Glue for Preschoolers 

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I don’t have any post-its at home right now, so I just used yellow construction paper and tape for show.

 

Purpose: To learn to glue neatly and efficiently. A skill that will be used over and over for crafts and school projects! Fine motor skills and precision in movement will be used.

 

Materials:

White glue

Glue mat (an old placemat works well)

Post-it notes

Flat, rounded toothpicks (I couldn’t find any so picked up these bamboo cocktail forks to use for now. They’re large and easy for Freestyle to hold.)

Paper

Cloth (to wipe up glue mat)

 

What to do:

1. Have all materials ready on a tray . Ask your child bring it to the table.

2. Either have pre-cut paper (or other easy to glue items) ready, or have your child cut up some paper to glue (if she already knows how to use scissors).

3. Set out the glue mat and place the page that she will be gluing things onto on the mat. Stick a post-it onto the top right-hand corner of the mat (or left-hand if she is left-handed!).

4. Show her how to squeeze a small amount of glue onto the post-it. (That’s the beauty of using the post-it…your child will have to learn to only use up the small amount that can fit onto it!)

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5. Show your child how to use the toothpick to take a small amount of glue and dab it onto the corners of the piece of paper that she wants to glue onto the page.

6. Turn the paper around and press the corners onto the page!

7. Repeat!

8. Dispose of toothpick and post-it after the activity. Wipe and dry glue mat before putting it away.

 

Go further:

Here’s a great post about using glue with preschoolers on the Teach Preschool blog.

 

Threading Activity: Pasta Necklace

20 Dec

A classic kid’s craft, I say! It’s super simple and you can use whatever you have lying around your house– a great I-just-need-you-to-be-doing-something-right-now activity in a pinch! 😉

 

Making a pasta necklace:

Materials: String, dry pasta, tape, scissors.

To start, string one pasta (piece of pasta?) and tie a knot.

Use the tape to make a “needle” for easier threading. I found that it works best if the taped part is longer than the pasta.

 

 

Threading’s an easy skill to practice in many fun ways! I’ve also written about Threading exercises here and here.

  • Try different types of pasta. You can dye pasta with food colouring or just buy the tri-coloured veggie pasta (yellow, orange, and green).
  • We are going to try small beads next! Maybe I’ll have Freestyle make bead necklaces for her cousins’ Christmas presents or keep that as a ready activity for when kids come over.
  • There are so many toys that let children practice the skill of threading.

 

Water Pouring Exercise

22 Nov

Water Pouring Exercise for Toddlers 

Age: Approx. 15 months + . As always, all children are different, so you can observe your child’s readiness. Initially, I introduced pouring to Freestyle using dry items when she was 20 months.

Purpose: This is a Practical Life exercise. The child is developing hand-eye coordination, concentration, practicing aiming for a target, and fine motor skills. If there are spills, she learns to clean up after herself. Once she is able to control her movements and pour accurately, she can pour her own water during meal and snack time, another step towards independence! She can also offer to pour a drink for others (Grace  & Courtesy).

 

Materials:

2 small pitchers, ideally they will be identical

(I used two creamers that I found these two creamers at a thrift store…$0.99 each! They had shelves and shelves of old tea sets and other items that could be used for Practical Life activities)

Water

Small cloth or sponge to wipe up spills

Tray

 

What to do:

1. Have your child carry the tray with all the materials to a table. She will sit in front of the tray and you should sit to her right if you are right-handed, to her left if you are left-handed.

2. Fill the pitcher on the right with a small amount of water. Demonstrate how to carefully pour the water from the right pitcher to the left, and then back again (more details in step 3).

3. Show her how to wrap the fingers of her right hand around the handle (her pointer and middle finger will be wrapped around the handle while her thumb rests on top of it). Have her support the other side of the pitcher with the pointer and middle fingers of her left hand.

4. Allow her to carefully pour the water from one pitcher to the next, and then back again.

5. If there is a spill, that’s okay! It’s just an opportunity for your child to learn that she will need to take more care next time and also to take responsibility in cleaning up after herself.

6. Let her repeat as many times as she’d like– which will probably be a lot!

 

Control of Error: No water will be spilled.

Vocabulary: pour/pouring, pitcher, handle, spout. Freestyle loved the spout and kept saying, “Spou…water come from!” 🙂

 

Freestyle really enjoyed this activity but during our second try she wasn’t able to control her excitement and was lifting up the pitcher in the air with one hand and cheering after she finished pouring. After I tried to gently remind her that we needed to be careful, showed her again how to hold the pitcher, and giving her a fair warning about what the natural consequence of this behaviour would be, I ended up having to stop the activity and take it away. While I’m glad she likes doing it, she will have to learn that there is an acceptable way to handle the pitcher and that wasn’t it! Of course she was very upset but…them’s the breaks, kid.

 

Go further:

  • When your child is ready, she can start pouring her own water from a small pitcher into a glass for snack time and meals! Later, she can do this for the rest of the family– imagine how proud your child will be to be able to do such an important job!

 

Easy DIY Threading Activity

16 Aug

 

 

[EDIT: Since I wrote this about a month ago, Freestyle has pretty much picked apart the white paper that I used to wrap the container! So keep that in mind if you decide to make this. In the link below, I believe she gives an idea of how to better cover the container.]

 

I’ve been meaning to make this for Freestyle for awhile now (months, actually!), but of course my lazy self kept procrastinating until I forgot about it! I think this would be a great activity for younger babies (around 1 year) to start on.

What reminded me was this post from how we montessori, a great blog I just stumbled upon.

 

It’s very simple to make:

All you need is a container with a plastic lid, something to poke holes into the lid, and about 10 stick-like objects (I had a huge box of coffee stir sticks from my own very DIY wedding leftover!).

  • You could also use larger wooden sticks/straws and a parmesan shaker (the ones with larger holes on the lid).
  • Or, you don’t even have to make a container– clean some pennies and use a piggy bank!

 

This is a Threading Activity, so Freestyle will be working on her concentration, hand-eye coordination, and pincer grip. It’s also a great activity that Freestyle can do independently, so a perfect time to bring it out is when I’m making dinner.

 

 

 

And, it’s portable! Just keep the sticks in the container and bring it with you if you know you’ll need to keep them busy.

 

Pincer Grip Activity

19 Jul

 

Wooden Peg Pincer Grip Activity 

Age: 12 months + (Again, all children develop differently, so you can introduce this to your child earlier or later, depending on their readiness.)

Purpose: The pincer grip (the ability to use the thumb and index finger to grasp an object) is an important fine motor skill development. Activities that exercise the pincer grip prepare the child to hold a pencil (muscle development and control, coordination, purposeful movement). Dr. Montessori believed that exercising these muscles would prevent the child from becoming fatigued when he started to write.

Materials:

Wooden clothes pegs

Container (large enough to hold about 10 pegs with a lip that is narrow enough for the peg to be clipped upon)

Tray

 

What to do:

1. Place the wooden clothes pegs into the container and put it on a tray. Have child bring the tray to the table (or workspace on the floor) when ready.

2. Pour out the pegs onto the right side of the tray (or the left, if child is left-handed).

3. Show your child how to use her thumb and index finger to squeeze open the clothes peg and then clip it onto the container lip.

4. When she has clipped all the pegs onto the container, she can unclip and put them into the container one at a time.

 

Vocabulary introduced/used: clothes peg, clip. 

 

Go further:

  • Use tongs and tweezers to transfer small objects from one bowl to another. Objects could include: pom poms, cotton balls, sugar cubes, beads, etc.

Introducing Water Transfer Activities

5 Jul

Materials: 2 containers, 1 turkey baster, 1 towel.

 

Water Transferring Activity for Toddlers 

Age: 18 months + (As always, all children are different- for this activity they do need to have the dexterity to squeeze the turkey baster. Sponge option for younger children below.)

Purpose: This is a fun activity for toddlers since it involves water! Working with water is a great sensory experience and is good exercise for their hand muscles and fine motor skills. It is a Practical Life exercise because it teaches children how to control the movement of water.

Materials:

Towel

2 containers

Turkey baster

Water

 

What to do:

1. Lay out the towel and fill one container with a few inches of water. Place the two containers and turkey baster on the towel.

2. Show your child how to hold the baster by the bulb and draw up water by squeezing it and releasing the pressure on the bulb.

3. Move the full baster over the second container and squeeze the water out.

4. Repeat!

Freestyle decided to turn this into a pouring exercise too!

Vocabulary introduced/used: squeeze, baster, bulb.

 

Go further:

  • For younger children (even as young as 6 months!), you can simply show them how to use a sponge to absorb water and squeeze it back out again.
  • When they’re ready, you can show them how to use the sponge to soak up the water from one container and squeeze it into another.
  • Once your child has mastered this activity, they can begin learning to control their movements using an eye dropper and smaller containers. Place the materials on a tray and include a small sponge for clean up.

Simple Summer Fun: Water Painting!

3 Jul

Water Painting

A bucket of water + a paintbrush + a surface + an enthusiastic toddler = simple summer fun! 

Perfect for you neat freak parents out there! 😉 All the fun, none of the mess!