Fine Motor Play Ideas with Preschoolers

Portrait of little girl painting, summer outdoor

Pincer Grasp

  • Pennies in a piggy bank
  • Tweezers to move cotton balls between bowls
  • Eye droppers to move water between bowls (or painting with colored water)
  • Moving toothpicks between bowls or play Pick Up Sticks
  • Golf tee games
  • Small pieces of food for snack
  • Original Colorforms and stickers
  • Sand art (spread glue and then add pinches of sand)
  • Knob puzzles

In Hand Manipulation

  • Small manipulatives – duplos, legos, bristle blocks, lincoln logs, tinker toys, ello,  unifix cubes, magnatiles
  • Dress me dolls – zippers, buttons, snaps, laces
  • Dressing dolls
  • Nuts and bolts
  • Peg boards
  • Tongs to move pompoms between bowls
  • Toothpick and marshmellow sculptures or play doh and small thing (sequence, toothpicks, pipecleaners) sculptures
  • Marbles
  • Rolling dice game
  • Jacks
  • Play doh with play doh tools and scissors
  • Pipe cleaners
  • String beads or beads on pipe cleaners
  • Weaving paper activities or weaving looms
  • Lacing cards
  • Mosaics with glue (tissue or construction paper pieces, tiles, pompoms, sequence)
  • Paperclips
  • Puzzles
  • Paint with cars (roll in paint and on paper)
  • Light Bright and Operation games

Pencil Grip and Pressure

  • Wide range of writing tools – pencils, pens, crayons (pebble crayons, ball crayons, rainbow crayons), thin markers, thick markers, dot art, roller art, paint brushes, Qtip painting, toothbrush painting, water paints, paint things (rocks, leaves, shells)
  • Wide range of writing activities – invisible ink books, color wonder, spirograph, dot to dots, maze books, stencils (Lakeshore has good ones), scratch paper

Hand Strength

  • Clay and model magic
  • Hole punches
  • Scissors
  • Spray bottles
  • Clothes pins on things or to hang things

 

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Ways to Encourage Early Writing

Preschool Kids Education

Before they are writing

There are lots of ways to encourage the skills that support writing from long before they are writing letters and words.

Fine motor activities – Starting in the first year, you can give activities that practice the pincer grasp and exercize the fingers. This is picking up small food like Cheerios or raisins. Later it is using tweezers, putting coins in a piggy bank, dress me dolls and playing with small manipulatives like bristles blocks and legos. This is making small balls with playdough and folding paper for planes and oragami.

Gross motor activities – This includes crawling, climbing, swimming, ball games, frisbee and gymnastics. This is anything that encourages the strength, flexibility and coordination of their arms and hands.

Lots of art supplies early and often – The goal is to encouarge a wide range of art supplies early and often. There is a different pencil grip and pencil pressure using thin markers, thick markers, crayons, pencils, dot art, roller art and paintbrushes. Spray bottles and hole punches build hand strength.

Writing props in play – If children are playing store, give them long paper for shopping lists and a notepad for writing reciepts. If they are playing office, give them a calendar for meetings and a legal pads for taking notes.

A writing supply drawer – By three and a half or four years old, it can be helpful to have a writing supply drawer or box separate from your other art supplies. This might have list paper, notebook paper, staitionary, pens and pencils.

Other writing activities – In preschool this includes maze books, dot-to-dot books, Color Wonder, stencils and scratch paper. In elementary school this includes tracing paper, spirograph, and invisible ink books.

Encourage new positions – When they are coloring with crayons, you can encourage them to color sitting at a table, laying on the floor, standing at an easel, or under the table with the paper taped to the underside. Each position gives a new view on arm and hand position, pencil grip and pencil pressure.

Once they are writing

Once they are writing letters and words, the goal is to encourage writing often.

Give them jobs – There are several fun jobs that encourage writing. The ‘list maker’ writes all the shopping and activity lists. The ‘navigator’ draws maps or traces the route on an actual map for car trips. The ‘historian’ keeps a journal of family activities. The ‘mail carrier’ writes postcards to grandparents weekly.

Notebooks, journals and diaries – Especially over the summer months, it can be helpful to encourage writing daily. This might be easiest with a dated journal or diary. It may also be helpful to keep a writing notebook and pencil in the car.

Writing prompts – For young children, this might be having them draw a picture and then tell or write a story to go with it. As they are older, this might be giving them a starting story line or topic and encouraging them to write the rest.

Book making activities – You can make a book with a few pages of paper, a pencil, crayons and a stapler.

For more writing and other academic supplies, visit: Lakeshore, Kaplan, Discount School Supplies and Community Playthings

 

 

 

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