Archive for January, 2011

Hand Mapping and Fine Motor Development in Preschoolers

Monday, January 31st, 2011

Fine motor work generally refers to ‘working with the hands’. Many of the actions come naturally to most individuals. Normally we do not need to focus on bringing a spoon to our mouth or a tissue to our nose, but for those with fine motor concerns, it is not so natural.

The first step in focusing on fine motor development is to recognize the terminology. Finger pads are simply a persons finger tips. Pincer grasp is when a person can hold a small item, like a piece of dry circular cereal, between their thumb and index finger. Finger opposition is the ability for the thumb to touch the finger pads. Finally, the tripod grasp is when a person typically holds a pencil or crayon. The item rests along the side of the longer middle finger and is grasped between the pads of the thumb and index finger.


When dealing with fine motor delays or the initial development of these skills, incorporating fun activities makes the process (or therapy) go along more quickly. Some simple activities can include:


*pegs placed on a pegboard


*washing hands with scented soaps


*using hand lotion (rubbing it in throughout the tops and bottoms of each hand and in between each finger)


*sorting small items (like dry cereal) into small, clean trays (ice cube trays or egg cartons work nicely)


*using a spoon in a mug ¼ filled with jelly beans to relocate each bean to a color specific designation


*use tongs or tweezers to sort small to large sized items


*place pennies in a piggy bank


*roll balls of clay in between the palms of both hands or on a flat surface like a table


If the tasks are a little to difficult for the student, not because of physical limitations, but focus – break the task down to simple steps. Truly give specific steps for each movement and / or show by doing it yourself first.


Any activity that incorporates hand movement is perfect for developing the fine motor skills. Some examples would be:


*rolling, tossing or throwing a small ball


*find the coin game – two people needed for this game. One person takes the coin and mixes which hand the coin is grasped in (usually done behind the persons’ back) while the other person has to patiently wait. The coin holding person brings both clinched hands out in front of them and the other person must decide (guess) which fist the coin is located. If the person guesses correctly – it is their turn. If the person does not guess correctly then the coin person gets to do the ‘mix-up’ again. The key to extending the fine motor work is to be sure that the person needing the work has to place the ‘guessed’ coin (using pincer grasp) onto the other person’s opened hand (palm up). If that person is the guessing person, then they should take the coin (pincer style) from the coin holders open hand. This game is a lot of fun to do while waiting for appointments.


*do the wooden puzzle boards that come with the tiny knobs. If the board puzzles do not have the small knobs, add your own. This is really easy using push pin style tacks. Push a tack into the center of the wooden puzzle piece and remove. Dab a bit of wood glue or super glue onto the metal pin and bottom of the plastic tack topper. Push the pin back through the same pin hole and let dry. Do this with all of the pieces of the wood puzzle.


Fine motor work can be integrated into nearly any event with simple alterations to how a person holds, throws or distributes the pieces needed to complete the activity. Next time you are playing a board game that has small objects, observe how the players grasp and relocate the pieces. In other activities notice how a person will toss a foam ball or tap a bouncing balloon. Simple observations and corrections can go a long ways in adding to the developing skills of the preschool leveled student.


Fine Motor Skills and the Four to Five Year Old

Sunday, January 30th, 2011

Preschoolers have an incredible adaptive ability. The 4 to 5 year old has typically achieved numerous skills by this age. They can dress themselves, even if a few items ‘look’ backwards. They feed themselves. They use the toilet. They use their imaginations. So many accomplishments in such a short period of time, yet they still have a world to conquer.


Fine motor development for a typical preschooler, up to this age, has included many obstacles to overcome. Including putting together a 6 to 8 piece puzzle, cutting thru paper and play dough, putting tiny toys into tiny containers, screwing and unscrewing a container and winding up toys. This is only to name a few of the accomplishments of the already four year old child.


By the time these skills have been somewhat mastered, the preschooler is ready for new challenges. These fine motor objectives should come naturally to a child that does not have any delays or concerns. The goals for this age period should include:


*completing a 5 – 10 piece puzzle

*creasing paper with fingers

*drawing a picture that is recognizable

*prints name with a modeled example

*capable of placing a paper clip onto a sheet of paper

*readily traces shapes and letters

*places a key into a lock successfully

*builds with blocks and connective toys

*cuts out pictures from newspapers and magazines

*draws a line between two objects on a piece of paper

*uses a dominant hand the majority of the time


This list is not complete but should provide an idea of the type of accomplishments a preschool aged child without delays or impairments should be able to conquer.

Visiting the Preschool Zoo or Circus

Saturday, January 29th, 2011

Ohhh! Look …. It’s a lion! … and a llama! Imagine the journey of little feet visiting the zoo or the circus. The simple amazement of big eyes trying to take every little detail in, wishing that the day would never end. Well, it does not have to end there. At home or in the classroom, create your very own zoo or circus to keep the experience alive.


What animals did your little ones see? Was there a snake, an elephant, an ostrich or an iguana? What animals would they have liked to have seen? Did they want to see a koala, yak, turtle, vulture, whale, zebra, alligator and rhino? The simple solution is to make your own – sounds included.


All of the items that you will need to make your own preschool zoo or circus will be crayons, scissors, paper lunch bags, glue, printer with paper – of course, animal templates and an imagination. Your preschoolers will provide the imagination …. you will need to gather the rest.


You could create your own animals using the basic shapes (circles, squares, ovals and rectangles) or you could use ready made bag templates. If using the templates or printables …. have the student color the pieces prior to cutting out the shapes. This process eliminates a lot of frustration on the little one’s part. Next cut out the pieces, follow the directions and paste the pieces onto the bag. Once the critters have been created and dried…. let the imagination take over. If you do not readily have any bag templates, visit for a cute, complimentary llama template to get you started.


Creating the lunch bag puppets does not have to compliment a zoo or circus trip. It can be a fun rainy day activity, themed based art project or a fun fine motor task. No matter the reason for creating these wonderful animals, it is always a joy to see the smiles on the students’ faces as they roar, growl, meow and chirp.

Basic Ingredients for Fine Motor Success

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011


The preschool years are a very important time in the development of fine motor (hand based) skills. The lack of including appropriate activities can impede the future development of independent living. This is particularly true with individuals that suffer from diagnoses including autism, cerebral palsy or any neurodevelopmental disorder.


The exploration of activities can become overwhelming and expensive, but it does not need to be either. If you are a caregiver to an individual needing additional fine motor based activities and not certain what to do. STOP and look to your kitchen for some basic items. Do you have flour? Do you have sugar? Salt? If the answer is Yes …. then you are ready to begin.


Does your special person have any textural concerns? This activity is great for exposure to various tactile items as well. Use a cookie sheet or pan with a lip if wanting to keep the mess isolated to a certain space. Place approximately one cup of flour or salt or sugar on the pan and have the student smooth the powder out over the pan. Now have the student draw in the powder. You may need to do the activity first to set an example of what you would like to see happen. If the pan does not stay in place while the student is working and you have a dedicated therapy area, there is an easy remedy. Place a piece of hook tape onto the underside of the pan and place the loop tape onto the table to stabilize the pan while the student is working.


Additional ingredients in the cupboards that make excellent workable items include cornmeal, corn starch and baking soda. All have different textural qualities and are not considered dangerous unless inhaled inadvertently or allergy identified.


A variation to this activity would be a hide and seek game. If drawing at this time is not an option for the student, then place one of the items in a bowl. The bowl and quantity of the textured ingredient needs to be large enough to bury safe treasures in it. Once you have decided on the bowl (with lid), add about 3 – 4 inches of the tactile ingredient. The lid is necessary not only for storage purposes but so the ‘treasures’ can be shaken and buried. Suggested treasures would be plastic alphabet letters, mini plastic animals ….. anything that is considered safe for your student and would intrigue them enough to want to locate the treasures. Now have the student locate the hidden items. If you happen to be using cornstarch, you could add the activity of ‘cleaning’ each treasure as it is being removed since cornstarch tends to adhere to everything.


The suggestions are certainly expandable. Just remember that safety should be considered the primary concern when working with any object that is small enough to be placed in the student’s mouth.

Common Problems associated with Fine Motor Delays

Saturday, January 22nd, 2011

Fine motor skills can become impaired in a variety of ways, including injury, illness, stroke, and congenital deformities. An infant or child up to age five who is not developing new fine motor skills for that age may have a developmental disability. These problems can include major health conditions including cerebral palsy, mental retardation, blindness, deafness, and diabetes. Children with delays in fine motor skills development have difficulty controlling their coordinated body movements, especially with the face, hands, and fingers. Signs of fine motor skills delays include a failure to develop midline orientation by four months, reaching by five months, transferring objects from hand to hand by six months, a raking grasp by eight months, a mature pincer grip by one year, and index finger isolation by one year.

Developmental coordination disorder is a disorder of motor skills. A person with this disorder has a hard time with things like riding a bike, holding a pencil, and throwing a ball. People with this disorder are often called clumsy. Their movements are slow and awkward. People with developmental coordination disorder may also have a hard time completing tasks that involve movement of muscle groups in sequence. For example, such a person might be unable to do the following in order: open a closet door, get out a jacket, and put it on. It is thought that up to 6 percent of children may have developmental coordination disorder, according to the 2002 issue of the annual journal Clinical Reference Systems. The symptoms usually go unnoticed until the early years of elementary school. It is usually diagnosed in children who are between five and 11 years old.



This is directly copied (and pasted) from the address below- visit for more great info (this site is not associated in any fashion with the site below).

Practice Functional tasks while building Fine Motor Skills

Friday, January 21st, 2011

Incorporating everyday tasks into your therapeutic setting is an important part of growing the fine motor skills of any individual with delays or difficulties.


If your child or client has the ability to even attempt the tasks below – go for it! Every effort made is not one wasted!


* Zipping a Jacket and unzipping

* tie shoes and untie

* buckle and unbuckle a belt or bag strap

* do puzzles (any level)

* working with Legos or other snap together blocks – be sure to take apart too

* buttoning and snapping

* using scissors (with appropriate monitoring – of course)

 *painting (be sure to utilize several different angles – use a 90 degree then the next time use the 180 degree – just an example)


More suggestions coming – here are some sample pages from the Fine Motor Fun for Everyone Download Membership – I hope these help to get you started.