Importance of Fine Motor Skills for Preschool
The first skill I want to cover in my blog series 10 Essential Preschool Skills You Can Teach at Home, is one of the most important physical skills: fine motor skills. Let’s explore the importance of fine motor skills and what we can do as parents to develop fine motor skills in our preschoolers at home!
What are fine motor skills?
First we need to define what fine motor skills actually are. The term “fine motor” refers to the small muscles in our bodies such as hands, fingers, and toes. In a nutshell, fine motor skills are the precise movements and coordination of these small muscles. Examples of tasks that use fine motor skills are coloring, writing, drawing, zipping up a jacket, tying a shoe, finger painting, and so much more. Just think of how many times you use your fingers and hands to do things every day!
The importance of fine motor skills
To show the importance of fine motor skills, take a moment to think of how many times you use your fingers and hands to accomplish tasks. The movements of my hands and fingers typing this blog post is an excellent example of fine motor skills. We use fine motor skills from the moment we get up until we go to bed. Without the development of these skills, completing daily tasks would be very difficult.
Here are some ways that illustrate the importance of fine motor skills:
- Daily Tasks – Playing with toys, pushing buttons on the TV remote, holding a sippy cup, picking up Cheerios from a bowl to eat, turning the pages of a book
- Self-care Tasks – Putting toothpaste on a toothbrush, zipping up a jacket, tying tennis shoes, pulling up socks, buttoning a shirt
- Art – Drawing, coloring, painting with a paintbrush, gluing sequins, tearing paper for a collage, using scissors
- Writing – Handwriting, tracing, mazes
- Play – Puzzles, sorting manipulatives, stringing wooden beads, racing Hot Wheels, sensory bin, water play, Perler beads, Duplos, Legos, Mr. Potato Head
How do we build fine motor skills?
As parents, we need to provide opportunities for our children to build their fine motor skills by strengthening those hand and finger muscles. So how do we do that?
The best way to build fine motor skills is PLAY! Yes, play is exactly what children do best. Here are a small list of different ways to strengthen hand muscles and develop better hand coordination:
Activities to Build Fine Motor Skills for Preschoolers at Home
- Play dough or clay
- Build with small blocks
- Sorting objects like beads, manipulatives, mini erasers, etc.
- Using large plastic tweezers to grasp objects and move
- Turning pages in a book (Tip: use a board book for easier turning)
- Clapping games (Example: you clap a rhythm and have them clap it back to you)
- Threading large beads onto pipe cleaners
- Stringing Fruit Loops cereal onto yarn
- Lacing shapes
- Pouring (Example: pouring uncooked rice in a sensory bin using measuring cups, spoons, and small bowls)
- Gluing small objects onto paper, like sequins or small pieces of paper
- Stickers (Example: covering a piece of construction paper with small stickers)
- Cutting with safety scissors
- Building sand castles
This list could go on and on….Any play or activity that involves the hands and fingers will be perfect for building fine motor skills for preschoolers at home!
What materials do you need to build fine motor skills?
When developing activities to do for building fine motor skills for preschoolers at home, using what you already have is perfectly fine. Here is a list of common items you might have at home or can inexpensively pick up at the store:
Materials for Fine Motor Skills Activities
- Cotton balls for picking up with tweezers or gluing to paper
- Clothespins for clipping to paper or task cards
- Large wooden beads or Fruit Loops to string on pipe cleaners or yarn
- Lacing Shapes which can easily be made at home
- Finger paint
- Large tray with a lip to contain all of the materials and messes
- Measuring cups, measuring spoons, and small bowls for pouring
- Sensory bin materials such as uncooked rice or oatmeal or water
- Wooden blocks
- Stickers such as the colored dots which you can find at Dollar Tree or Walmart
- Child safety scissors
- Cotton swabs for cotton swab dot painting
- Sorting materials which can literally be anything: shells, rocks, acorns, leaves, mini erasers, cereal, pony beads, different kinds of dried beans, counting bears, etc
- Play dough
- Tweezers (I like the large plastic ones for kids)
- A child’s set of tongs and a big eye dropper
Free Scissors Practice Printable
Grab this set of printable worksheets to help practice scissors skills! When preschoolers practice with safety scissors, they are helping to develop hand muscles and eye-hand coordination. Plus, they are learning how to use scissors and cut with them safely. You can always draw lines on paper and have your child cut on the lines. But these make it a little more interesting! So get these fun Unicorn Cutting Practice worksheets in my TPT store today!
Want to know what I recommend to teach preschool at home?
Are you thinking of teaching your preschooler at home soon? Not sure what he or she will need to keep up with peers in private preschools? With my background in Early Childhood Education (preK through 3rd), I’ve taught in preschools and even taught preschool to my own 4 children, successfully preparing them for kindergarten while following developmentally appropriate practices. So sign up below to get this FREE 16-page guide to the top 10 essentials that I recommend you need to start teaching preschool while saving hundreds of dollars!