We hear a lot about motor skills and motor development in children and the importance thereof. Motor skills help us make movements and tasks we do every day. When you come to think of it, most of the time, we don’t even realize how often we rely on our motor skills.
Fine motor skills are related to the movement in the small muscles of our hands. These require precision. For instance, using a fork involves our fine motor skills. Gross motor skills are a bit different in that they use the large muscles in the body. For instance, walking requires us to be able to establish our balance, coordinate, and a certain physical strength in the muscles.
It is essential that children develop both these motor skills to perform everyday tasks. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a list of developmental milestones, which also includes the ages at which children start to develop motor skills. Although children typically develop certain fine and gross motor skills at specific ages, some may fall behind the “schedule” as children don’t develop at the same rate.
If you feel like your child is delayed in developing their fine or gross motor skills, it is likely that they will be checked out by professionals and undergo an assessment process. There are many physical and occupational therapy methods that help children catch up with their developmental milestones.
In addition to therapies, parents can boost their child’s fine and gross motor skill development through fun and engaging activities, which will both entertain the child and promote skill development.
In This Article
3 Fine Motor Skills Activities for Children
Developing the fine motor skills of your child is important as these skills include dexterity and coordinating movements that will be helpful for your kid in many future tasks like writing. Here are some fun activities that will help boost your kid’s fine motor skills.
Sorting Game with Pom Poms
This easy-to-prepare sorting game will develop and boost your child’s fine motor skills. For this game, you would need colorful pom poms that come in varying sizes as well as a container with multiple sections, like a muffin pan. You can sit together with your kid and prompt them to sort the pom poms by their colors. While sorting the pom poms, the child will learn to recognize the colors of the pom-poms, and they will work their fine motor skill muscles through pinching and gripping the items. You can also try to have them sort the pom poms by their sizes.
Make Your Own Play-Dough
There are not a lot of opportunities to encourage your kid to pinch during day-to-day activities. However, pinching is a really important skill to develop for your kid’s hand dexterity. One great activity where you can encourage your kid to pinch and roll and squeeze and twist, and that is making your own play-dough. There are a couple of benefits of making your own play-dough. One is that you would know exactly what goes into a material that your child will be interacting with. Playing with play-dough is also great to relieve stress! Here is a list of play-dough recipes that you can make yourself.
Once you make your play-dough, you can now get to reap the many benefits that come through playing with it. Due to its malleable nature, play-dough makes it fun to explore and experiment with. You can hide objects in it and ask your kid to look for them. While doing so, they will work and strengthen the muscles of their hands as well as tendons. This development will prepare the child for using pencils and scissors later on.
Spell with Shaving Cream
Shaving cream has a funny texture that some children love. It is easy to work with (and clean off afterward). For this one, spray a big glob of shaving cream on the kitchen counter or a table. Then, prompt your child to spread this into a thin layer. Then prompt your kid to use their index finger to write letters or shapes on this layer. They can draw pictures or do some shapes or write their names. When you are done with the activity, you can clean the counter together, which will also work their muscles in their arms and wrists.
3 Gross Motor Skills Activities for Children
Gross motor skills engage large muscle groups. These are involved in energetic movements like walking and jumping. Gross motor skills can be improved through a myriad of fun activities and games. These activities will strengthen the muscles the kids will use to jump, climb, run, and more, which are essential in their healthy physical development. Here are a couple of activities to boost your kid’s gross motor skills:
Going to the Park and Playground
Children can develop and boost many gross motor skills at the playground. In addition to already running and jumping around, the playsets at the park can help them learn and master other skills. For instance, swinging on a swing set will help your kid learn to develop balance and coordinate their body and weight in a way to stay on the set. The monkey bars will strengthen their arms and kind of force them to coordinate their limbs. So many of their muscles will be worked and strengthened just by running around and playing with sets that are already there.
Simon Says Meets Muscle Development
Yes, being outdoors almost sounds like a free and easy pass to develop gross motor skills. However, sometimes it is not practical to go outside, as we have seen in the past two years. Fret not, because there are also exercises you can do in your living room to boost their gross motor skills. Simon Says is a great exercise game where your child will be able to work their large muscles as well as listening skills. Here is how you do it: think of movements you want your kid to do, like balancing on one foot or jumping or climbing. Then say, ”Simon Says ‘touch your nose while jumping on one foot’”, or change it up based on your child’s preference. Through this game, your child will have fun and do exercise for healthy development.
Catch the Balloon, Pop the Bubbles
Making bubbles is already a fun activity, and it almost never fails when it comes to entertainment. Another benefit of your kid popping bubbles is that this activity uniquely works on your child’s gross motor skills! Since they are a little bit unpredictable, the bubbles will go all around and your kid will chase them, jump to catch them, and run to pop them. Their movement in zigzag format will work their large muscles in their legs and arms. The same goes for balloons. You can involve your entire family and kick and hit the balloon once for the other player to hit it again. You can even play a balloon volleyball game.