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Use these kindergarten hand exercises and activities to help develop your child's fine motor skills.
As a homeschooling mom with an occupational therapy background, my aim with these activities is to help develop the fine motor skills to help kindergarten kids get ready for all the handwriting they are going to be doing in grade school.
Sometimes children hold a pencil awkwardly when their fine motor skills have not developed well enough for pencil control. The variety of fine motor activities suggested below may help your child's fine motor skills improve to enable better pencil control. If you or your child's teacher are worried abut fine motor skills, please ask for an occupational therapy evaluation to get to the bottom of it.
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Use a regular money box or a recycled container and encourage your child to hold 2 or 3 coins in the hand and push them through one at a time without dropping the others.
Upgrade to using more coins as your child gets better at this task.
Putting coins in a top slot is easier than pushing them through a side slot.
If your child uses a side slot, make sure the thumb is under the fingers to get the most out of the exercise (as shown above).
NB be aware of the choking hazard with little kids!
Another inexpensive activity with household materials!
This is the same concept as the moneybox idea above, but using dried beans and an egg carton.
In this example, we are reinforcing number concept by writing a number inside each hole, and the child has to add the correct number of beans.
Have your child hold a few beans in his hand, and place them into the container one by one by moving a single bean up to the fingertips each time. It is harder than it sounds, especially for kids with poor fine motor skills!
NB be aware of the choking hazard with little kids!
Don't underestimate the potential of this age-old activity!
Leave out the paraphernalia and get your child to squash, squeeze, roll and pound the playdough to get those hand muscles moving.
The thumb, index and middle fingers are the fingers used to control the pencil when writing. I call these the tripod fingers.
These kindergarten hand exercises will help your child learn to use those fingers in the first step to developing good pencil control.
Show your child how to isolate the tripod fingers with a small slip of paper under the ring and little fingers (read why this is important).
Then try some of the activities below.
Scissor cutting is by far one of the best kindergarten hand exercises as it is a great way to getting the tripod fingers to work together well.
Make sure your child uses the tripod fingers in the holes, and give lots of practice cutting out on straight lines before moving on to shapes and pictures.
Ok, this activity does use a crayon, but it is used in such an undemanding way!
Use the tripod fingers to hold a crayon down flat and rub color all over a large area, like this circle which is about to be cut out.
Although square and triangular crayons are great, they can be expensive, but regular crayons do the trick just as well.
Tearing paper can be fun! First, check which way the grain of the magazine paper runs – the strips may run better horizontally or vertically.
Either you or your child can tear the strips from the page. Once strips have been torn, then tear the strips into small squares across the grain.
Use the tripod fingers to grasp the paper and tear. For best results, place the thumbs together on the top, and then pull one hand towards the body.
(The second pic has a preschooler tearing the paper and he is not using his tripod fingers yet, but the pic shows how the thumbs should be placed together for the best tearing)
You can use the paper squares to make a collage, which makes it a great preschool or kindergarten hand exercise for any theme!.
Draw a single dot on one side of a clothes pin, and two dots on the other side. This shows your child where to place the fingers.
Your child should grip the pins with the pads at the tops of the fingers, and not at the side of the index finger as can be seen in the picture above!
Use the clothes pins to pick up and transfer items, or have your child pick up and place a number of clothes pins, making sure the tripod fingers are used correctly. See the pics below!
This child built a cage for his dinosaurs by placing clothes pins on an egg carton, then picked up "food" and transferred it to the cage.
Crumpling small pieces of crepe or tissue paper into balls is a good tripod finger exercise and also makes a great decoration for craft activities.
In the activity below, we used the paper balls to add smoke to a house which was made as a cutting activity.
For more information on this versatile fine motor activity that can improve pencil control, pop over here.
Available from some toy shops and therapy product suppliers, these little plastic toys that squirt water can be used effectively with the tripod fingers.
Add a couple to your stock of bath toys to add a fine motor boost to bath time!
PFOT stock a range of fine motor products like this one. This is my affiliate link to a few fine motor products that I have picked out over there.
Here are some more pages on my site that deal with the fine motor skills of the hands and fingers:
These pages give you more information to help you understand fine motor skills and what your child needs.
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