Fine Motor Skill Workouts
Writing with young children can be very difficult. Getting a child’s hands to move in a particular way—move up then move down, move forwards and backwards—is a challenge. As practitioners we must help children develop skills that will support them in this writing process. Here are some examples of how we can do this.
To strengthen a child’s fine motor skills—those little muscles in his/her tiny fingers must get a work out. We must help students build these muscles, so that they are strong and able to grip writing tools—and move them about. You can start by giving each child a little ball of dough. Let them pat, slap, squash, squeeze and prod the dough. This gives little fingers a real workout! You can also do this to music—any upbeat music will do. There’s an amazing YouTube clip called Dough Disco by Shonette Bason, who has a brilliant way of giving children’s fingers a workout. If you’re interested, you can view Dough Disco for little fingers online. It may give you an idea to make your own.
Another activity to try during mark making time is making marks to music with large marker pens. The larger pens are easier for the children to hold. Put on music like Rolling Down the River and have the children draw circles—use different music to make mountain marks, or squiggle marks. We use a huge roll of lining wallpaper for marking; it’s cheap and strong. The whole class spreads out, down either side of the paper. With the music on children make marks together—over and over again. This gives children the opportunity to practise marks they will need to learn to form letters and numbers. Children can watch others while they make their marks, copying, repeating, practising, refining, and mimicking. Making circles helps students to master a, c, o, d, b, g, p, 6, and 9. Mountains help them master m, n, 3, h, r, u, and w. Squiggles help support forming s and 2.
Making marks in the air while dancing to music is fun, too. Put some music on, and give each child one, or two, little scarves to hold in their hands. Then let them make those circles, humps and squiggles, with the scarves, tracing in the air. It’s a full-body workout, but lets children practise those shapes they will need to make when writing. Making these marks big at first helps children master the marks before they start to make them smaller on a page. A fine motor workout with dough, scarves or pens and paper set to music will encourage your youngest students to be confident writers.