Having spent a lot of time in Kindergarten classrooms, I’ve seen some interesting pencil grips.
And kids unable to use scissors. Kids unable to unscrew lids. And it all just makes me very, very sad.
Wow, Shannon. What a depressing way to open a post.
Why are these kids unable to perform these skills? Because they lack the hand strength.
They need more time, space and activities to develop their fine motor skills.
If you need some fun and playful ideas for fine motor activities for your littles, I’ve got your back!
Below are 14 creative ideas from some of my teacher mum friends. Together we contributed to the Happy Hands eBook.
Threading is a great precursor to sewing!
Great for fine motor AND hand-eye development.
I have some free printable threading cards here- sure, they may be Christmas themed. Who says Christmas can’t be celebrated all year round?
Threading beads onto pipe cleaners is another simple way to practise fine motor skills.
Using pieces of hessian and yarn is an excellent way to encourage early sewing.
Again with the play dough! To keep things interesting, I added faces to egg cartons. My children then used the play dough and loose parts to create crazy hairstyles. This is my fave play dough recipe.
You can’t go past the old bicarb and vinegar test. Use pipettes to squirt vinegar onto bicarb for some fizzy, fine motor fun!
If you have slightly older children, I highly recommend weaving as a way to maintain fine motor strength.
I used these weaving projects with a Year 3 class.
Together with the 7 awesome teacher mums featured above, I’ve contributed to the Happy Hands eBook.
It contains 27 simple and playful ideas to encourage fine motor play at your place.
Ideas that are fun, quick and doable.
Ideas to help your little ones playfully develop the hand strength that they need.
Once you have a fresh batch of play dough, pour some liquid water colours into a palette and gather a selection of painting tools. Food dye could also be used in place of liquid water colours. Perhaps water down food dye as that stuff can leave your hands stained for days!
We always cover our work space with some baking paper.
WARNING: hands will become colourful with this activity. Which increases the fun by about 6000%. If stained hands are a concern for you or your little one, I’d advise wearing gloves.
Explore colour mixing
Roll out a piece of play dough and experiment with adding different water colours. What happens when you massage the colours into the dough? What colour do you end up with?
Cookie cutters+ play dough = a natural partnership.
Use your cookie cutters to cut out shapes and paint your shapes all of the colours.
Experiment with different tools
My kids will never say no to an activity involving pipettes. They are a great way to add colour to your play dough canvas.
You could invite your mini artists to experiment with all kinds of different paintbrushes.
Check out all of these play dough ideas in the video
Play dough is such an excellent way to develop fine motor skills.
If you’re after even more simple but FUN ideas to encourage your children to develop their important hand muscles, then check out the Happy Hands eBook.
I generally start with a theme. It is usually inspired by a book.
We then collect materials from around the house. It’s fun to make this a collaborative effort with your little ones, giving them ownership of the process.
Then we set up our materials. Where you do this can vary. It might be in a plastic tub. In a sand play table. In a shoe box.
The most important (and best) step is saved for last. PLAY!
We set this small world up in our sand play table after being inspired by this book. We used two baskets to act as “fields.”
Farm-related toys were collected and our Grimm’s 12 Rainbow Friends from Oskar’s Wooden Ark were the “farmers.”
The children used plastic lids to symbolise seeds being planted.
We also used some coloured rice and popcorn kernels to add a sensory element to this small world.
Birthday small world
Our small worlds often incorporate ways to reuse and recycle our art projects.
Birthdays and birthday parties are discussed here about eleventy billion times a day. So we channeled this energy into a small world and made the bunting from leftover watercolour paper. We used play dough for the cake. I love how small world play allows you to create a multi-step process that incorporates so many benefits- fine motor skills, creative arts…. you’re only limited by your imagination.
The thing I love most about this small world is that it was set within a box. So once play was finished, you simply shut the box and pack away and storage is simple!
Neighbourhood small play
Another example of artworks being used in small world play.
What should be a 5 minute walk to the park takes us about 56 minutes as my kids insist on stopping at every.single.letterbox and having an in-depth discussion about the house number. Hello learning in context!
So we collaged some houses and simply stuck them onto a sheet of cardboard to create this small world that encouraged number recognition.
Our Grimm’s 12 Rainbow Friends from Oskar’s Wooden Ark walked around the neighbourhood, visiting different homes. It was so sweet hearing the stories that emerged about different houses and neighbours.
This is a sponsored post with Cheeky Little Media. You can read my disclaimer here. Thanks for your support.
My husband works in animation. Many years ago, he worked at a seriously cool creative studio where they were developing a concept for a kids TV show.
That show became Kazoops!
Now every time it comes on, my husband and I shout “Daddy used to work with the people that created this show!”
Our kids generally respond with something along the lines of “SHHH! KAZOOPS IS ON!”
It has been seriously cool to watch Kazoops! take the world by storm.
The show revolves around an inquisitive and imaginative boy called Monty. Each episode sees Monty confront a preconception about the world, imposed on him by an adult.
By asking “Why?” and “What if?” Monty embarks on a wild imaginative adventure with his pet pig Jimmy Jones.
Each episode contains a unique soudtrack, developed specifically for the themes explored in that particular episode. The music is exceptionally rad.
To celebrate the release of the Kazoops! toy range, I’ve chanelled my inner-Monty and am sharing 6 ways to encourage imaginative play with your littles.
As Monty explains, “things could always be different if you just imagine….”
Thanks to the team at Cheeky Little Monkeys, I’m also giving away a set of Kazoops! figurines valued at $100 RRP. (All the ones pictured.)
1. Small world play
What is a small world?
A small world is simply a miniature play scene set up with objects and toys from around the house. Above you can see a fairy-garden small world, a sailing small world and a dinosaur garden.
You can read more about some of our small world set-ups here.
How do I set up a small world?
Most small worlds are thematically developed and follow a child’s interests. If your child is enamoured with animals, how about a farm or zoo small world? Pirate lover? What about a sea-themed small world?
So decide on a theme and then collect toys and objects that fit in with the theme. Set your small world up within a tub, container or planter box.
Small worlds encourage story-telling, vocabulary development and oodles of imaginative play whilst encouraging children to develop their understanding of the world around them.
The one below incorporated sensory play and fine motor practice. Inspired by my friend Kristian, I filled a tray with baking soda, pom poms, pipecleaners and beads to create a Winter Wonderland small world. I also provided pipettes and water so that the kids could add it to the baking soda to create snowmen (Thanks for that idea, @raising.kinley!)
2. Bow down to the humble old cardboard box
You know the old joke about why bother buying toys for kids when they just play with the box anyway?
The humble old cardboard box is basically the greatest imaginative invention ever.
At the moment, every time a box enters our house it beomes a boat. Transport is BIG here at the moment.
Above you can see some ways we’ve coupled our imagination with cardboard boxes.
We created a colour-coding posting game (back when the eldest was obsessed with post boxes.)
We’ve created a garage for all the toy cars., a stove top for the play kitchen and a birthday cake for some role play.
3. What could this become?
Similar to the way that most cardboard boxes are reused here, we play a game called “What Could This Become?” with our recyclables bin.
We wonder. And imagine. Then we create.
An egg carton coupled with cardboard tubes becomes a cityscape.
Paper tubes from the aluminium foil become binoculars.
A plastic berry basket becomes a weaving frame for a spider web.
It is always rad to see what the kids come up with.
4. Loose part play
Providing children with loose parts, be they natural or synthetic, promotes open-ended play.
When play is open-ended, this is where the imaginative and creative magic happens.
I used a book about birds to invite loose part play with playdough, sparkly doo-dads and feathers. Many fine-feathered friends emerged.
Another time, I set out sponges and more loose parts. As a result, I was treated to some delectable cakes.
5. Never underestimate the power of the pencil…
…or the power of the crayon. Or marker.
A piece of paper and something to draw with is a simple way to invite children to use their imaginations.
The dialogue that goes along with drawing provides a perfect route for children to develop fictional characters and landscapes.
“Tell me about your drawing” is a simple prompt to get an insight into your child’s imagination.
Another game we enjoy playing here is when one person draws a shape or line. They then pass the paper to another person who has to turn the squiggle into a drawing. Always a guaranteed laugh.
6. Open-ended creative prompts
Setting up art materials and inviting your children to create is another playful way to encourage imagination.
The first invitation above involved some dried leaves, paper and chalk pastels.
The emphasis is on the process and not the product.
The second example above involved process and product.
We squirted liquid watercolours onto colour diffusing paper.
I then cut the artwork into different shapes and created a Make-a-Monster activity.
Each monster created was unique and came with an imaginative back story.
The Kazoops! characters have been brought to life in a range of plastic figurines from TOMY and are available from Toys “R” Us.
Just in time for Christmas for the Kazoops!-loving kid!
Thanks to the awesome-sauce people at Cheeky Little Media, I have a set to giveaway. RRP $100.
If you are not on Instagram, you can leave your comment on this blog post.
Enter by completing the sentence…. “Just imagine if….”
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Ts & Cs
Open to Australian addresses only.
This is a game of skill. To be eligible you must complete the sentence.
Competition opens Tuesday 5th December 2017
Competition closes Sunday 10th December 8pm Sydney AEST 2017
I’d like to pretend that art and craft activities are meticulously organised and scheduled in a Martha-Stewart-fashion here. (I’ve seen mums who timetable these things out. Such organisation!)
The reality usually involves me stumbling across a household item and thinking “We could do something with this after naptime.” Which is what happened when I recently discovered a container of powdered gelatine in the pantry. I immediately thought of this activity from Babble Dabble Do and it was a huge success when we attempted it.
The gelatine was super easy to work with- it appears that I just cannot use it successfully in cheesecakes- so I wanted to give it another whirl.
With all the blooms blooming in the neighbourhood of late, I thought we’d create a Spring-themed sensory play experience. (more…)