There are many great toys and products available to aid your child’s fine motor development however some of the best items are probably in your home already. Here are some common household items you can use to develop the coordination of those small muscles in your child’s hands and fingers so they can grip and control a pencil, use a fork and spoon, button, zip and tie, and even put together a puzzle.
1. Eye droppers
Squeezing an eye dropper uses the same fingers that are used for writing which makes it great for fine motor development. It also teaches coordination and patience. Water can be transferred from one cup to another or fill a cup or two with water and add a couple of drops of food coloring and your child can squeeze drops of water onto paper towels, coffee filters or construction paper to make pictures and designs. If they squeeze drops of vinegar onto baking soda they can watch it foam up!
Tweezers are another item that you probably have in your home. Ones with rounded or slanted tips are a safer choice than the pointed tip when using them for these activities. Sorting beads or cereal or even types of beans into the compartments of an egg carton is great practice for controlling a pencil.
3. Plastic containers with lids
Any kind of plastic container can be re-purposed into a fine motor activity. Empty spice bottles with the holes in the top are easily made into a fun fine motor game. Your child can feed toothpicks into the holes one at a time developing the pincer grip that will be used to pull up a zipper or hold a button while buttoning their coat. Pipe cleaners or even pieces of spaghetti can be fed into the holes. Empty water bottles can be filled with cotton balls to make a snowman, again using the small hand and finger muscles which are so important. Slits can be cut in the tops of empty margarine containers and children can push large buttons, cardboard “coins” through the slot.
One item we all have in our homes is paper. Tearing paper is an activity that requires more finger strength and coordination than you might think. Letting your child tear pieces of paper into strips or small pieces will develop the pinch grip necessary for many fine motor tasks. They can make a picture with the pieces or just have fun tearing the paper
So as you can see, you have all you need at home to have fun playing with your child and work on fine motor skills at the same time!
Elise Bondy, COTA/L