Open our resource cupboard and you will find shelves of toys! We know that kids do their best learning when they are having fun. Many of the kids that come to see us need support to develop their hand strength and fine motor skills so that they can master activities like handwriting, cutting with scissor, tying shoe laces, using cutlery and all the other everyday tasks that we have to do with our hands.
A few of our favourites…
This is definitely and oldie but a goodie. Manipulating the playdough in different ways builds strength and control of the finger muscles. Obviously, the possibilities are endless, however we particularly like to use these great playdough activity mats from Mother’s Niche.
- Connect 4
Who would have thought such a simple household game could also be great for fine motor development. When playing this game, we like to challenge the kids to only use one hand to pick up 3 coins at a time. This means that they have to transfer the coins from the fingertips to the palm of their hand (and back again when posting them in the slots) which is fantastic for developing in hand manipulation.
- Hammer and Nails
This game has so much going for it. Orientating the pieces correctly to copy a picture develops visual perception, lining up the nails takes precise finger control and holding the pieces still while hammering works on coordination of the two hands (also referred to as bilateral integration). Even more motivating is getting out the real tools (with close supervision!), you’d be surprised at how motivating hammering nails into balsa wood can be.
The humble peg is wonderful for developing finger strength. Set up a stable chair or table at home so that the kids can help peg the clothes on the line. In the clinic, we often get kids to match pictures on the pegs to a corresponding template. You can make your own based on your child’s interests or we often use this ready to print pack from Your Therapy Source.
- Build and Play Toys
These are so motivating for kids, they can literally spend hours assembling and disassembling. Plus they don’t even realise that they are working on their visual perception, in hand manipulation and bilateral integration skills at the same time.
Kate Kleinau- Occupational Therapist