Fine Motor Skills
Writing readiness involves pencil control and finger strength as much as phonic knowledge. Try these activities to help:
- Playdough sausages/snakes Use both hands together to gradually roll an even-sized length of dough. Ensure the body remains still, the shoulders relaxed and the arms move from the shoulders. Isolate the thumb and each individual finger consecutively to press down on the snake of dough; first one hand then the other. Pinch/squeeze the snake between thumb and individual finger tips consecutively, one hand and then the other. Roll the snake into a ball on the tabletop with one hand. Pick up and squeeze as hard as possible with one hand. Roll dough into a ball between two hands and squeeze as hard as possible using the other hand.
- Scissors – preparing to use First, make a loose fist. Now, using your thumb, index and middle finger make a bird’s beak (or alligator’s mouth) and open and close it, keeping the ring and little finger tucked away. See if you can open and close the “mouth” rhythmically – this is the action you will use for cutting.
- Pick up the scissors and position the wrist so that the thumb is turned upward, the thumb joint resting inside the thumb loop. Make sure the tip of the middle finger is inside the opposite loop. Some scissors have enough space for the middle and ring fingers to be positioned inside this loop.
- Place the index finger outside the loop, in front of the middle finger serving as a “guide”. The ring finger and little should be curled into the palm (unless the ring finger is inside the loop with the middle finger).
If the child is struggling to hold the wrist in the ‘thumbs up’ position, try holding the paper above eye level or taping it to the wall so that the child is cutting upwards. You can try drawing a smiley face on the thumbnail of the cutting hand: you should always be able to see the smiley face while cutting.
- Scissors –cutting up playdough sausages Roll out the playdough sausages so they are really thin, then cut them up into little pieces using the scissors. Focus on a good scissor technique, with thumbs facing upwards. Make sure the elbows aren’t resting on the table, squeezed against your ribs, or up in the air: they should just be gently by your sides. Demonstrate how to hold the scissors, and give hand-over-hand guidance if required. Next, cut up some straws, using single cuts.
- You can extend this activity by threading the pieces of straw onto kebab sticks, or sticking them onto card to make a picture. Or save the pieces of straw for the next session and thread them on to kebab sticks.
- Coin posting Position the coins on your dominant side (on your right side if you are right handed), and steady the posting box with your non-dominant hand. Start by picking up one coin or counter at a time and posting it into the box. Make sure to use a pincer grip (fingertips) not the side of your finger.
Next, pick up two coins, and hold one in the palm of the hand, using the ring and little finger to keep it in place, while posting the other.
Try placing a coin in the palm of your hand and using the fingers and thumb of that hand to move the coin up to your fingertips. Don’t cheat by tipping the hand to slide the coin down the palm!