Developing Manual Dexterity: Fun Ways to Teach Your Child Fine Motor Skills

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Fine motor skills are imperative for kids to find success during their first years in school, as well as for the rest of their lives. When comes to learning to write, draw and use their hands with precision and dexterity, there’s a lot of ways you can give your kids a leg up, while still keeping things fun. Here’s a few ideas for you parents:

Squeeze and Stretch Away

Whip up a batch of play dough or silly putty, and put those hands to work. A key component in developing fine motor skills is gaining control of the small muscles in the wrists and hands. Grab some tools, or simply try to sculpt some favorite shapes. The squeezing and stretching motions, as well as trying to form the clay — all these things help strengthen hands and fingers.

Additionally, giving kids a bucket of water and some sponges to ring out is another great way to strengthen these muscles. Give your kids some different bowls, and color the water with food dye to make things a little more fun.



One way to get kids to push their dexterity to the limit is to color with small pens and pencils, or broken crayons. Broken crayons achieve this better than their more intact counterparts, as the shortness forces kids to hold the utensil correctly between the thumb and forefinger. You can browse around here for a great sharpener idea, as well!

Additionally, a coloring app might yield similar results, without all the broken art supplies. Look on Google Play for some colorful options sure to please little ones. You might enjoy this new take on an old favorite, yourself. 


Get to Painting

Not only is finger painting downright fun, and delightfully messy, but it can help boost dexterity, hand-eye coordination and more. Not to mention all the great benefits of letting kids explore their unencumbered creativity.

Add a brush to make things a bit more challenging, as the control needed to create the desired shapes demands more control of hand and wrist muscles.


Make Cut Outs

Make paper dolls, or cutouts of favorite animals or characters from television. You can print sheets out from your computer, or cut pieces from a magazine or coloring book. It doesn’t matter, the practice of cutting out small pieces neatly and with caution, gives kids the chance to think about shapes and exercises those hand muscles.


Make Some Jewelry

Another great craft for improving upon motor skills is making necklaces, bracelets or decorative garlands. The repeated motion of stringing beads or dried noodles together challenges hand-eye coordination, as well as improve muscle function and more.

It doesn’t matter what methods you use to get kids ready for the next challenges in life, but the more fun they have, the more apt they’ll be to “practice.” Keep in mind, getting fine motor skills in place nice and early will make it easier for kids to button or zip their clothes, write their name or tie a shoe — all things we take for granted.

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