This holiday fine motor activity for your littles is brought to you by one of my new blog contributors, Carly! Carly will be our DIY contributor and I am so excited to see what she has in store for us! Today’s post holiday fine motor activity for your littles is so simple and fun that children of any age will enjoy partaking in this activity with you! My overall goal with my new contributor section is to bring you fresh, new content that you haven’t seen before. I love having a well-rounded blog that focuses on many different topics that might strike your attention! It has been a dream of mine to have contributors for a few years now and I truly believe that I have gathered up some of the best! I am beyond thrilled to have Carly on board with us and I hope you are too!
Four Simple Festive Fine Motor Activities
As a special needs teacher, I witnessed time-and-time again that the most challenging skills to engage children with were activities centered around fine motor control. The kids most in need of fine motor work are also often the ones most reluctant to engage in these activities. From my observations, this is a result of a general push towards drawing and writing as the only means of building the skill set. We often believe that speech and gross motor skills take precedence over fine motor skills, so they have pushed aside until they can no longer be hidden away. Unfortunately, this type of thinking leaves kids behind the curve and makes it increasingly difficult for them to catch up as they get older.
As adults, we need to find creative ways to work on these skills that are both fun and engaging. We need to stop insisting on drawing and writing alone if our kids are not ready to complete such complex tasks.
Below are four of my favorite toddler-friendly, fine motor activities that are both festive and fun! They will have your children building fine motor muscles without even realizing what they are doing. Each of these activities is simple to set up, taking less than five minutes to prepare, and require little to no extra supplies.
1.Deliver the presents
This activity is the perfect way to work on the pincer grasp. Using tongs and tweezers provides resistance which strengthens the small muscles in the hand. Not only will children gain better control of their index, and middle fingers, but they will also build the stabilization muscles within the thumb and ring finger. Tweezer and tong activities build the muscles needed to complete the more complex tasks of using scissors.
-Bottle (e.g., a Listerine bottle)
-Craft paper/Construction paper/Sticky foam sheets/Sticky felt sheets
Cut the outline and features of a house using the craft paper medium of your choosing. Paste the cut craft paper onto the bottle, orienting the house to use the bottle opening as the chimney. While you can use any type of craft paper, I prefer using sticky foam sheets as they make the task simple and keeps the mess to a minimum. Make your bottle-house as fancy, festive, or simple as you like!
Start by telling your child that their task is to deliver presents to the house. If your child is able to use the tweezers, have them pick up the pom-poms and drop them down the chimney (i.e., the spout of the bottle).
If your child finds the task too challenging with tweezers or tongs, simply let them use their hands to work on engaging their pincer grasp. Use a bottle with a larger opening for children who may find this exceptionally hard. If the task is too easy, however, use a bottle that has a smaller opening. The smaller the hole, the more precision required of your children. You can also use more challenging objects as the “presents”, such as beads or marbles.
2.Decorate for Christmas
Much like using tongs and tweezers, clothespins utilize the tiny muscles in the thumb and pointer finger which helps strength hands for all sorts of higher-level tasks. This activity also incorporates hand-eye coordination, making it an exceptional activity for children. Not to mention, kids love the feeling of opening and closing clothespins, which keeps them engaged and interested.
Place the stickers onto the clothespins – on the end opposite to the side you would hold to open the “jaws”. I used festive-themed stickers from the dollar store which worked perfectly. Cut a piece of ribbon and hang it across a wall, taping it securely on both ends so it does not fall.
Tell your children that they are going to help you decorate for Christmas. Have them take the decorations and use their thumb and pointer finger to open the clothespin. Ask your child to clip the clothespin decorations onto the ribbon.
If this task is too easy, look for clothespins that may have more resistance, requiring greater finger strength to open. You can also cut the ribbon into smaller pieces, just big enough for the clothespin to grasp onto, which will make it more challenging to accurately pin. If this task is too easy, ask your child to peel the sticker decorations off the paper and place them on the ribbon. Stickers are a fantastic way to build those fine motor skills too!
3.Decorate the Tree
Stickers are a fine motor skill essential requiring bilateral hand coordination and refinement of fine motor muscles to pull the edges off the page. This task specifically requires special awareness as kids place stickers within a designated area. Anyone who knows me knows that I am a dot-sticker fanatic. Here is a blog post I wrote about four of my favorite dot-sticker activities for toddlers (INSERT DIRECT LINK TO: https://www.carlyandkin.com/home/2018/11/16/4-simple-dot-sticker-activities)
Cut out a Christmas tree and star from construction paper. Glue the star on the top of the tree and draw circles to represent Christmas ornaments as the designated area to place a sticker. Voila! Simple and easy. To simplify the setup further, draw a tree onto plain white paper, add the circles for the designated sticker area, and with no cutting and pasting this is easy to set up for a quick activity to buy you some time.
Tell your child that they are going to help you decorate the tree for Christmas. Explain that they are to take a sticker and place it into one of the ornament circles on the tree.
If this task proves too easy, make the designated circles as small as possible which makes it far more challenging for the child to accurately place the sticker. If the task is too hard, you can eliminate the pre-drawn circles and have your child place the stickers randomly on the tree. If pulling the stickers off the page is the challenging part, remove the outer part of the sticker page leaving just the stickers. This will make it much easier for your child to grip the sticker and peel off the paper. Still too difficult? Lift the edge of the sticker for the child so they can simply pinch and pull.
4.Pack the present
In this activity, give your child the opportunity to scribble, draw, or write. Do not force anything that your child is not ready to attempt. Just holding a pen and scribbling is building those fine motor muscles, which is the main goal. Packing the cards into the envelopes is a great way to master bilateral hand coordination as well as a means of strengthening the muscles of the hand through resistance. Sliding the envelopes into the slot requires precision and hand-eye coordination – all very important for future learning.
-Cards that will fit into the box
Procure a little gift box that can be found virtually everywhere at this time of the year – I found mine at the dollar store. Buy cards that will fit into the box without getting jammed. Cut a slot out of the gift box that the envelopes will be able to fit into; the slot can be on top of the box or on the side. I was able to avoid using a utility knife by cutting down one side of the box such that when the lid is placed on top, it forms the final side of the rectangular slot.
Tell your child that you need help packing the presents. Have them write the names of their family members and friends onto the envelopes. Remember, scribbles are okay! The goal is not perfection. Have the child slide the cards into envelopes, then slide the “present” into the gift box through the slot.
If this task is too easy, you can have your child write actual letters to their family and friends inside each card. Have them add specific decorations or drawings if they are interested. Make the slot as small as possible to increase hand-eye coordination challenge. If the task is too difficult, help your child put the card into the envelops or let them slide the cards into the slot without an envelope. Make the slot bigger so it requires less precise hand-eye coordination.