The development of fine motor skills plays an important part in the growth of every young child. Many teachers may find that some of their students have trouble developing their fundamental fine motor skills, but activities that focus on motor skill foundations, like pencil grasp development, are a wonderful way to bring fine motor development into your classroom.
Pencil grasp is a good indicator of a child’s level of fine motor ability and allows teachers an idea of how much more a child has to develop before they’re ready to write on their own. A child should be able to hold a writing tool such as a pencil, crayon, or marker, before their pre-writing skills can begin to develop. Their strength and dexterity will develop with time, but many students struggle with this concept and may require extra attention.
Mighty Fine Motor Fun: Fine Motor Activities for Young Children, is a great teacher resource for fine motor activities, offering various approaches you can take with your students when teaching fine motor skills. Here are some helpful tips and fun activities you can use in your classroom with both struggling learners and students well on their way in their own fine motor development progress.
Here are some suggestions of developmentally appropriate items to use during fine motor activities:
Writing and Drawing Utensils: The grasp that a child uses with a writing utensil is important because it has an effect on the child’s handwriting. By the end of kindergarten, most children will have established a particular method for grasping their writing tools. These grasps are habit-based and are very difficult to change, once established. Using the appropriate size and type of writing utensil will help a young child develop and practice an efficient pencil grasp that will carry over into elementary school.
For younger and inexperienced preschoolers, provide large writing tools, such as thick chalk, pencils, crayons, and paintbrushes; bulb paintbrushes; and easy-grip (round-top) crayons. These “thick” utensils are easier for children to grasp in their small hands. Large markers are especially effective for beginning writers because large markers move smoothly across the paper and are easy to hold.
- The child will gain experience drawing shapes.
- The child will develop foundations for writing.
- Scrap pieces of cardboard (two-ply cardboard works well)
- Adult scissors or knife (for adult use only)
- Large markers or large crayons
- Cut out circles, squares, and triangles from cardboard (adult-only step). Note: Shapes that are 4”-6” in diameter work best for preschool-aged children. Save the outside pieces of cardboard to use as stencils.
- Show the child how to use cardboard shapes and stencils for drawing and tracing. Encourage her to use one had to hold the stencil and the other hand to trace around the edge.
- Observe the ways the child draws shapes.
- To encourage a good grasp and wrist posture, use clips to place stencils on an easel. This will give the child the experience of writing on a vertical surface.
- Invite the child to use card stock to create greeting cards and use the stencils to decorate them.