Fine Motor Skills - Make it feel good!
by: Carol Jimenez
What is fine motor? In school, this mainly means coloring, writing with a pencil, picking things up, and manipulating things with your fingers. There are a million and one activities that use fine motor skills. Some children will participate in fine motor activities willingly. Others will avoid them. So how do you get a child who avoids fine motor activities to practice something they don't want to do? Well, first off, don't make it a "practice" session. It really doesn't take long before kids figure out what you're doing. You can almost hear their thoughts, "Oh great, more colored strings, chop sticks, fuzzy balls. I know what's coming. Yuk." Bright colors can only go so far.
If you really want to motivate, find something that feels good.
Velcro. It's hard to resist. Have you ever passed by a Velcro board and been able to resist pulling something off just to hear that satisfying crunching sound and feel the resistance? It's really a small vibration that you can feel all the way up your arm. I can't do it. Velcro is way too enticing. It feels good pulling it off, and it makes a satisfying sound. I love it. Kids love it too! Go ahead, Velcro a bunch of stuff together. Use special interest pictures of characters and Velcro them to a board with various sizes and amounts of Velcro. I like the heavy duty stuff. The more Velcro you use, the more finger strength and grip is needed to pull it off. There is no end to what you can do with Velcro. I don't recommend the black, as it leaves little black fibers everywhere. I'm sure the white does too, but you can't see it.
Another of my favorites is the battery operated vibrating pen - The Squiggle Wiggle. It is the perfect size for little hands and requires a tripod grasp to hold it, with three flat sides. Swapping out the colored pens requires fine motor skill, just like putting a peg in a hole, only fun. It makes cool shapes and squiggles on paper with no effort, and it vibrates your hand and arm the whole time. Have the child switch it on and off. Beware! When thrown, these things are missiles. Make sure you are in a close environment, unless you are confident in the child's level of motivation.
The bottom line here, is that things that feel good are motivating in and of themselves. Find things that YOU enjoy - that feel good to you and modify the experience to fit your therapeutic application. They will have no idea that they are practicing fine motor skills. They will just be having fun!