I was scrolling through Facebook recently when I came across an article shared by the music class our sons have attended—it was talking about school age children being unable to hold a pencil and the serious lack of fine motor skills in today’s Kindergartners. I was shocked. Then, like most moms of today, I headed over to Google to see if this was a common thing—and in fact, since 2013 pediatricians and numerous professional medical organizations have been talking about the damage caused to fine motor skills early in life by touch screen devices.
“Pediatric doctors, handwriting experts and orthopedic therapists are warning that although youngsters can swipe a screen, they no longer have the hand strength and agility to learn to write correctly when they start school.
Increasingly the use of digital screens is replacing traditional skills such as drawing, painting and cutting out which boost fine motor skills and coordination. To be able to grip a pencil and move it, you need strong control of the fine muscles in your fingers. Children need lots of opportunity to develop those skills.” (The Telegraph, 2018)
I have always loved being creative—whether through drawing or writing, and when our first son was born I knew that I wanted him to have a creative outlet. Below are a few ways that we encourage creativity in our home, and in turn, build up those fine motor skills. However, lets be real, I don’t have time each and every day to set up an interactive and entertaining fine motor skill activity, so let’s go ahead and call this list the “One and Done Guide for Fine Motor Skills”. You set it up once, your kids have access to it and you feel like you are really rocking parenthood.
Both of our kids have had a wall mounted chalkboard wall in their bedroom. For our first son, we made it inexpensively with a piece of drywall and chalkboard paint. For our second son, we were short on time and energy, so we picked up a cute one from a local antique store for a steal. A few screws to mount it to the wall, a small pail for holding chalk and you’re done.
Whether they are standing or sitting at the chalkboard, their fingers are going and their arm muscles are being activated. Our youngest likes to pull his chair up to the board to trace his toes—I am telling you, the creativity is endless.
Our oldest was really into cars for a couple years, so his room is themed around cars. I knew that I wanted a fun activity in his “big boy room”, so I went to the holy grail of creativity—Pinterest. I found a cute magnet board idea and put a twist on it to make it his own.
Playing into the cars theme, we bought a metal oil drip pan from the store (about $10), mounted the Velcro wall adhesives to it and the back of the pan. Took a few of his toy cars and superglued magnets to the underside and made a duct tape road across the front for a one-of-a-kind magnet board. He can draw on it with dry erase markers and magnet letters make spelling on it even more fun!
This project took us a weekend, but has been worth it. I purchased some hand holds from Amazon, we cut plywood into some fun and interesting shapes. Mounted the hand holds and installed it onto two walls. Our boys love climbing these walls and reaching the bell at the top.
These toys really get the imagination going. Tinkertoys have been around for decades and it’s easy to see why. With simple wooden sticks and wooden circles kids can build anything—our boys love to build shopping carts, fans, cars and anything else that they dream up.
This is exactly how it sounds—a box full of art and craft supplies. I fill this box with craft paper, markers, crayons, pencils, stickers, pipe cleaners, glue, scissors, paper straws, paints, watercolors—pretty much one of everything in Michaels. This box is kept at a spot that gives them easy access. At any given time our oldest son will say that he wants to go draw, and he heads to the art box. Our youngest heads straight for the stickers and paper straws without fail.
All of the above activities encourage kids to get their hands moving—and when their hands are moving, their fine motor skills are growing and their imagination is hard at work. There is no escaping technology in today’s world, but building fine motor skills doesn’t have to fall to the back burner.
I would love to hear from you, what easy ways do you use promote fine motor skill growth in your home?