February is Down Syndrome Awareness Month in the Philippines. And to give back to the community that has given me so much over the years, I am sharing some of the fine motor skills activities that Z has done when he was younger. I have shared these on my Instagram back in 2019 but I will be collating them here. You can bookmark this post in case you find it helpful and useful as well.
These activities also mostly target fine motor skills development but they could be incorporated in gross motor skills activities as well. You don’t need to spend money on special toys or tools for these since these activities utilize things that can be found at home.
Bubble Wrap Popping
With the increase of online deliveries of items that are mostly bubble wrapped, sometimes, we no longer know what to use it for and just throw them away. But do you know that bubble wrap popping is a great stress reliever? At the same time, it is a great fine motor skill activity.
Popping bubbles in a wrap requires the use of the thumb and forefinger. This is called the pincer grasp. A pincer grasp is very useful in daily activities like writing, buttoning, etc. Popping bubbles using the pincer grasp helps strengthen the muscles in those fingers and improves hand-eye coordination.
Clothespins are a common household item. Whether made of plastic or wood, using clothespins is also a good pincer grasp exercise. This activity helps improve hand-to-eye coordination and strengthen finger and hand muscles.
A lot of activities can be done using clothespins. The most basic one is pinning it on paper or rope. The clothespins can also be colored so color-matching can be incorporated. Writing or sticking numbers on clothespins can also be done for counting activities. And there are a lot more!
Page Flipping or Paper Tearing
Z loves tearing papers. This is one of the reasons why none of his books from his first years survived. And this is the reason why I held back on giving Z new books as well.
Let’s admit it, as parents, we hate torn paper scattered all over the place. But didn’t you know that this is a very simple yet very effective fine motor skill activity for kids? Tearing paper strengthen hand and finger muscles, too. Tearing paper helps kids develop hand-eye coordination, pinch strength, precision and refined grasp, and more.
Old magazines and store catalogues can be used as teaching materials. We have used photos in magazines to identify objects – shoes, trees, house, and so on. We’ve also used these to identify letters, numbers and even colors. And flipping pages help improve fine motor skills as well.
No children’s books, no problem. Old magazines and store catalogues work too. Add a little creativity and it will be a fun activity. Just make sure the photos are for general patronage.
This is a classic fine motor skill activity for kids. Weaving in the string into small holes of beads helps improve hand-eye coordination, pincer grasp and even strengthen dexterity. And while this activity can result in a lot of frustration (beads falling out of the string or not being able to insert the string into the hole), this helps teach our kids patience and perseverance.
No need to buy the beads if you don’t have them. You can use cut up drinking straws and an old shoelace. No drinking straws or beads? You can cut strips out of used boxes and roll them to form a small circle. Make the hole small enough for a shoelace to pass through but thick enough that a child can hold it properly without squishing it.
Blowing bubbles is one activity that kids really enjoy. This activity strengthens the mouth muscles and promotes the coordination of lips, cheeks and jaw. “Blowing bubbles helps a child to coordinate their lips, cheeks, and jaw with airflow. This activity helps the child regulate the airflow necessary for speech production. Blowing bubbles can target several speech sounds such as “m” “p”, “b”, “g” and “f” and target many single words such as “uh-oh” “up” “pop” “big” “fly” and “go.”” (Source)
This is also a good activity to improve hand-eye coordination, precision and dexterity.
While there are a lot of cheap bubbles being sold, there’s really no need to buy. Dishwashing liquid and aluminum wire can be used as a wand. (You know, just like what we do when we were kids).
This is another fine motor skills activity that improves grip control, hand-eye coordination, and concentration. This activity is not only a practical life skill but also helps prepare the child for writing skills.
This activity has a lot of variations. You can start with bigger items like macaroni shells and eventually smaller ones like beans or even rice. Another version is to spoon grains into smaller opening containers like bottles. Or, just like Z in the photo above, using a small spoon for big items.
As the child’s development progresses, you can add a fork to the mix for dexterity. Or using different sizes of containers to fill to teach about sizes.
Puzzle activities are helpful in developing hand-eye coordination, problem-solving skills, cognitive skills and fine motor skills among others.
A lot of other activities can be incorporated when doing puzzles. Colors, shapes, objects, etc can be identified before putting in the puzzle piece thus enhancing vocabulary. This activity can be done as a sit-down activity or integrated with physical activity. It can be a relay-style wherein the child picks the puzzle piece from one place and goes to the other end to complete the puzzle board. You can even set up a simple obstacle course to incorporate physical activity.
While there are a lot of low-cost puzzles in the market nowadays, this can also be easily made at home using recycled boxes. This way, you can also customize the puzzle pieces that you want. A little patience is needed but it sure is going to be worth your while. Here’s a link to the DIY puzzle board I made a long time ago.
These are a few of the activities that we have done over the years. We still do some of these activities as part of his daily playtime but with more variations and integration with other activities as well. There are still a lot of home activities that we used to do but I will be blogging about them in another post.
Comment below if you have questions and I will try to answer them as best I can or will consult someone for answers as well.