Archive for the ‘Day Care / Home School’ Category

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.

Fine Motor work with Pennies

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

These are fun activities – but close monitoring will be needed since working with objects that could be placed in young peoples mouths.


Using a bucket with water in it – place 10 to 20 pennies in the bottom – have the student collect the pennies one at a time and place on a paper towel or wash cloth.


Using a container of dry oats ( remove some of the oats so they do not spill all over the place when the student is digging in the container) – add 10 – 20 pennies into the oat container. This is a very ‘textural’ activity. Shake the container – so the pennies will be ‘floating’ throughout the oats. Have the student pick out each of the pennies.


Same ‘game’ as above – but instead of using oats – use play dough. Hide 10 – 20 pennies inside of the dough prior to giving the student the glob of dough and have them pick them out. On the opposite end – give the student a mound of claydoh and have them insert the pennies or stick the pennies onto it.


Penny stacking – give the student 10 – 20 pennies and have them stack them one at a time on top of each other. Skills will vary with this activity – so have the student graph their accomplishments from day to day – the challenge is to add 1 more penny to their last previously graphed – you will notice that this one is not just a fine motor activity – but math too.


Penny Tracing is an excellent fine motor activity but is not a good activity for many very young preschoolers. Have the student trace pennies with a pen or pencil onto a piece of paper – these circles could be set up that they create snowmen or other objects with the drawings.


Penny counting – use small containers with lids – or zip style bags will work for this activity and provide an additional fine motor challenge. If using containers – write numbers on the side and have the student add the correct amount of pennies to each of the containers (either have the student remove the lid or you will need to cut a slit in the lid prior to doing this game. If using baggies – add a recipe card with a number written on it and place the card into each of the baggies. Have the student unzip the bag and add the correct amount of pennies – then zip the bag up using the thumb and index finger.


Of course there are many other games that can be created using pennies – this is only a few of them – just be creative.

Exercise Roll

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

This is such a fun way to get the kids moving …. and they want to do it!


First you will need to make some dice – use 2 – larger square boxes for this. You will need to decide appropriate exercises for your group of students – older kids can do considerably more activities than younger preschoolers. Whether you are choosing jumping jacks and running in place or doing an obstacle course as an option – choose carefully so that every person in your class can accomplish the task.


You will need 6 activities – Options could be windmills, toe touches, knee bends, knee hugs, arm circles…. even rolling on the floor. For younger students – words printed on the die may not be sufficient – create a picture of the activity – either print a picture off of the internet or use your great skill to ‘draw’ it (I personally am not a great artist – give me simple any day!) Paste the drawings onto the sides of the box.


The other box will need numbers printed on the sides – for older students – use numbers counted by 2 or 5 – but for the younger students that may lose interest quickly or have the need for ‘counting’ practice – number it 1 – 6.


Now you are ready to choose a student to be the first to roll the dice – example if the top sides says 3 and jumping jacks – then the students will need to do 3 jumping jacks. Have the students take turn rolling the exercise.

The Freeze Dance

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

You played it when you were a kid …. but this is a new variation of the same game.


You need something to play fun music (if able to create a collage of styles – it is even more fun – Use music with varying rhythms – slow to super fast)


Play the music and have the students do silly dances and movements – when you stop the music they need to freeze in place ….. remember this game now?


The variation is that you will take pictures of the students immediately when the music stops.


After playing and photographing this game for a little while ….. have a review of the photos and discuss the pics. (Make sure you have taken an equal amount of photos for each student – of course).


The students love this game and if you can print off a picture (in black and white – more affordable) of each of the student’s funniest pose as a surprise for the parents (or guardians) – the parents and students can have a great memento for the day and this can inspire further discussion of the activity at home.

Special Days

Saturday, October 16th, 2010


Have a special day every week. Children (like adults) love to have something to look forward to doing.


The special days can be something as simple as Bubble Day ….. Set up a bubble table and have the children see how many bubbles they can fill up the room with (while blowing several bubble sticks – everyone at the same time).


Another would be ‘Plane’ Day – Make paper airplanes and fly them around the room or outdoors. Have contests to see which will fly the farthest or the fastest.


Have a book party – everyone bring their favorite short read – provide a special snack and take turns reading. Another option would be to read a book that has a coordinating movie – read the book first – then watch the movie during rest time and discuss it afterwards.


Backwards Day is always popular – wear your clothes backwards, come to school in pajamas, eat dessert first, have rest time before lunch – anything that gets the kids giggling.


Favorite Toy Day – Let everyone bring their favorite toy to play with during free time.


There are so many options – you could have a different special day every week for the entire year without repeating the event.


Some additional suggestions:

Camping Day


Beach Party

Art Fair

Grown-up Day

Do something Special Day

Song Day

Fashion Show

Hat Day

Favorite Cartoon Day

Circus Day

Luau Day

Pajama Party

Puppet Day


and so many more!

Unique Picture Puzzles

Saturday, October 16th, 2010

 This is a fun puzzle (visual discrimination activity) set. Take a snap shot of each student – print off a small picture of each student (no larger than 2” squared). Create individualized name to picture puzzles by pasting each photo onto a recipe type of card – photo on the left side and the student’s name on the right side. Cut a zig-zag line down the center of each card (make sure the lines on each card are unique). Now the students can practice recognizing their own name and their classmates names with these fun (yet simple) puzzles.

It’s Magic

Thursday, October 14th, 2010

This is a great pretend game to get the imagination flowing.


Provide a hat, cape, jacket …. or any item that can be worn safely. Tell the students that it is magic and will let them pretend to be anything they would like to be. Have a student put the item on and pretend to be something or someone different …. have the other students in the room take turns guessing what that student is. After everyone has had a turn or the student identifies what they are … it is then the next student’s turn.


This is a fun game and can be theme directed even. Example – The theme is ‘safety’ – the students can be a fire hydrant, police person, fire person or even an emergency vehicle! Have Fun with it.

Framework Recommendations

Thursday, October 14th, 2010

This list was compiled awhile ago but is still very pertinent today. It includes many of the recommended guidelines for preschool to early kindergarten leveled curriculum.