I love using recycled materials for our fine motor activities. I have the hardest time trashing or recycling something before reusing it! I was going to recycle the cardboard box that our delicious local summer fruit comes in, when I noticed the air holes on the bottom. I knew they’d be the perfect size for some fine motor work 🙂
I flipped the box upside down and presented that along with a bowl of marbles for Trevor to balance in the holes. It was a great way to work on his pincer grasp and hand control.
Our activity table is a five dollar garage sale find, so it has a slight slant. We ended up moving the activity to the floor to get a more supportive surface for the box.
This was a fun, frugal fine motor activity. What materials do you love to upcycle?
If you’re looking at adding in more fine motor activities to your kids’ days, my biggest suggestion would be to save everything! LOL 🙂 I am always saving items that would normally be recycled or trashed and re-purposing them for these activities.
For this fine motor tray I used a piece of Styrofoam that I’d saved from some packaging. I simply drew a picture of a fish on the Styrofoam using markers. Along the outline of the fish I added dots about every inch, so that Trevor had targets for sticking the cocktail forks. I placed the drawn Styrofoam fish on a tray with some plastic cocktail forks that I picked up at the Dollar Tree (you could also use toothpicks or even push pins).
Pushing the cocktail forks into the Styrofoam is a great fine motor exercise. Having targets for him to aim at helps with hand-eye coordination. You really could draw any picture you wanted to on the Styrofoam (or a word like I did here), but since we’re doing an Ocean Unit Study this summer, I kept it thematic to that.
What are your kids wanting to learn about this summer?
This isn’t a new idea, but it is a great one. Set up your kids with their own clothesline. It’s a wonderful way to work on fine motor skills, and have fun at the same time!
I strung up some twine in our playroom, and then provided Trevor with an invitation to hang up paper t-shirts with wooden clothespins.
I found these shirts as part of a teacher’s back-to-school packet on clearance for $1, but you could easily just make some yourself out of cardstock or construction paper.
I had to demonstrate to Trevor how to use both hands to hang up a shirt on the clothesline, but after that he only needed a little verbal prompting. I was very impressed with how well he did with this!
What is your favorite clothespin activity?
In case you needed an excuse to drink more wine…
Save those wine corks! They have so many possibilities for uses in kids projects. All you need for this great fine motor activity are some wine corks and pieces of cut up pool noodle (which you will also fine a million uses for).
I presented this activity simply by offering a bowl full of corks and some pool noodle pieces set out on Trevor’s activity tray (aka a cookie sheet from the Dollar Tree 😉 ). I then invited him to put the corks inside the pool noodles. This is a great way to work on bilateral coordination, as the child has to use both hands to do this. Trevor had a lot of fun with this 🙂 You could also make this into a pegging-type game, where you stack pool noodles and corks together to see how tall you can make a tower. Trevor opted not to try that though. I always give him choices when we do an OT type activity.
What are your favorite uses for pool noodles outside of the pool?
Trevor loves baking soda and vinegar activities. We must do a variation of this classic chemical reaction almost weekly!
For this activity I poured some baking soda into muffin tins, and then added just enough water to make a thick paste. I buried a few small plastic toys in each spot. I set the tray out to harden for a few days.
After the discs hardened, I filled a container with vinegar and added an eyedropper. Eyedroppers are such great tools for strengthening fine motor skills in kids.
After he had loosened up all of the toys through bubbly fun, I gave him a spoon to help scoop the toys out. (More great fine motor work!)
He had a blast with this activity! What is your favorite baking soda and vinegar activity?
I love any activity that is not only fun for my kids, but educational too. This was also ridiculously simple to set up, which is always a bonus.
For this project I pulled out my fantastic Melissa and Doug Finger Paint Paper (not sponsored, I just love it…although if Melissa and Doug wanted to sponsor me I wouldn’t be opposed 😉 ). This paper is great because it’s thick and doesn’t tear when kids add a lot of paint to the paper.
All I did was take a trusty Sharpie and draw shapes on the paper for my daughter, and some of the Dolch Pre-K sight words on my son’s paper.
I taped the paper to our kitchen table and let them paint away with some homemade flour paint (though you could just as easily use store bought). My daughter still tends to eat a lot of our art projects 😉
This activity was great because we got to talk a lot about what they were painting on (identifying words and shapes). Fine motor, language, and sensory skills all tackled in one simple project = a total win!
We absolutely love our sliding glass door. It is such a great location to do all sorts of fine motor and play activities. Recently I set up a coffee filter garden for Trevor to water. He had sooooo much fun! And using a spray bottle (plus working on that all-important vertical surface!) is great for improving strength.
On the inside of the door I drew the stem and leaves of the flowers using a green window crayon. Then on the outside of the door I taped up some coffee filters that I had dotted with our dot markers. Finally I gave him a spray bottle filled with water and let him go at it!
He had a great time “watering his garden”. After he had sprayed literally every single inch of the coffee filters, he wanted to go inside and spray away the stems too.
I hope your kids enjoy this activity as much as Trevor did!
Trevor is really into tools and “fixing” things right now. He likes to go in his Daddy’s shop and see (and touch) all of his tools. So I’ve been trying to let him explore real tools in a fun and safe way. I made him his own workbench using a scrap piece of wood. I nailed in a few nails for him to hammer and started a few screws for him to try and finish screwing. He loves it! It’s great fine motor work too. I also squirted some shaving cream on his workbench so he could use the putty knife he stole, ahem, borrowed from his Daddy. It was a fun way to add in tactile sensory play as well.
I’ve also set him up with wrenches, pliers and hammers before at a Play-Doh station. It’s a fun and interesting way to encourage squeezing and hand strengthening. Since Trevor has some weakness in his hands this was a great activity for him. And using Play-Doh is a great pre-writing activity for any kid.
One of the best ways to strengthen the small muscles in the hand is to encourage your child to work on vertical surfaces. To help Trevor with his fine motor skills I try hard to find fun ways to get him to use a vertical surface. This weekend it was nice outside so I thought we’d do some window painting.
I squirted some of his washable Crayola sidewalk paint onto a plate and let him go to town on our sliding glass patio door. He had tons of fun! After he was finished painting I gave him a spray bottle filled with water to squirt so he could help wash the paint away and do some more fun fine motor work.
Spring is finally starting to show up around here. We celebrated a nice sunny day by going outside and engaging in some water play!
Since Easter is tomorrow we played with plastic Easter eggs. I filled two bins up with water and colored one yellow and one blue. Then I added in plastic eggs and various scoopers, spoons, and tongs so we could work on some fine motor skills too. I also ended up adding in some ice cubes. Trevor thought that was great! We opened the eggs, put the ice cubes inside, then closed them back up. The ice makes a great sound when you shake the eggs! We pretended the noise they made was a chick hatching and cracked the eggs back open to see the ice cubes “hatch”. It was a great way to spend a sunny Spring morning!