Friday, September 3, 2010

Developing Fine Motor Control

Children are not born with fine motor control. The process begins early, when infants and toddlers reach for and grasp objects. But development and coordination of wrist and finger muscles - necessary for handwriting later - comes slowly and requires lots of practise.

Adults can help children develop fine motor control by providing appropriate materials for practice. Play dough and building blocks such as legos are two of the best materials.

One of the many skills learned through playing with play dough and legos is the development of strength and dexterity in the hands. Simply through pinching, rolling, and shaping play dough, children develop strength in finger and wrist muscles. Connecting legos together develops hand muscles and the pincer grasp, the touching of the thumb and fingers that is important for holding pens, pencils, silverware, brushes, and other important tools.

Play dough and legos are both open-ended materials. Children can experiment with these however they choose. These materials not only help develop fine motor skills, but also provide opportunities for children to engage in rich oral conversations with one another as they play, and practice and discover many math related skills.

Play dough can be made at home or purchased. Legos are a considerable investment but worth it. Both materials provide hours of enjoyment, many ways to enhance fine motor skills, and great opportunities for intellectual development.

Mrs. McLennan's Marvelous Play Dough Recipe 

Involving your child in the making of this recipe will also provide an opportunity for you to engage him or her in mathematical exploration (measuring, counting) as well as directional oral language (e.g., "first let's pour in the flour, next let's add some salt).

1 cup white flour
1/2 cup table salt
1 table spoon cream of tartar
1 cup water
1 package of dry kool aid (will colour and scent the dough)

*double or triple recipe depending on how much playdough you would like to have. I usually triple the recipe for our classroom when making it for our play dough center

Add all ingredients together and stir. Slowly add in additional flour until the dough is firm enough to knead. Knead together ingredients and slowly add in more flour until desired stickiness is reached. Play dough should be firm enough to hold a shape and not stick to fingers.

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