Nov 28, 2008

How to Improve Fine Motor Skills of a Toddler

Writing is an ability which is developed only once a toddler is able to enhance his fine motor skills. Fine motor skills can be defined as coordination of small muscle movements which occur e.g., in the fingers, usually in coordination with the eyes.
The abilities which involve the use of hands, develop over time, starting with primitive gestures such as grabbing at objects to more precise activities that involve precise hand-eye coordination. Fine motor skills are skills that involve a refined use of the small muscles controlling the hand, fingers, and thumb. The development of these skills allows one to be able to complete tasks such as writing, drawing, and buttoning.

Here is list of things I have found useful in building on the fine motor skills of my daughter. Hoping that a regular variety of activities from this list can help her improve her fine motor skills for the future.

1. Colouring - Coloring books can be a good skill-builder. They help with teaching kids how to control a crayon or colored pencil I found that typical colouring books with big pictures for the child to colour was a bit too daunting for a beginner to colour. Toddlers hardly have the concentration time and patience to sit and colour one whole colouring page. They need to first develop the strength to hold a crayon or colour pencil properly. There's a Kumon workbook called 'Let's color' for 2 year olds that builds on the drawing skills literally from scratch. "Colouring inside the lines" is what you should ask your child to do but if they want to colour as per their free will, leave them to enjoy the colouring once in a while.

I took this before my daughter drew all the nice black hair on it. ;)

2. Cutting with Scissors help with coordination. I have found the Kumon workbook for that as well: "My First Book of Cutting." quite impressive. here, the doggy's whiskers need some cutting. My daughter kept saying 'Doggy cut doggy cut while i did this activity with her, while i kept reminding her to open and close the scissor. I've bought a plastic scissor for her safety that can cut paper. One can always DIY the cutting part with one's own materials. Kumon's books make it much more interesting with attractive pictures that my daughter simply adores. The dolls pics were given by Shichida method today itself to introduce cutting where my daughter goes once a week.

3. Pasting - The ability of taking out stickers with one's hand and then pasting on the paper and then moving on to pasting at the right place is quite important. While lots of stickers books are available in the market, I have liked the Kumon workbook, Let's Sticker and Paste particularly because it builds on to from the beginning skill of ability to take out a sticker and just place it anywhere in a particular design. Ruhani has been in Shichida for a long while now and stickers were introduced long back. So, she is quite confident at it now though it will take her time to understand where to place the sticker correctly as the book progresses.

4. Use a thick, triangular pencil that helps her grip. You can also find triangular grips that fit over conventional pencils.

5. Sewing card - I found a wonderful toy that teaches sewing in Toys R Us while helping little fingers gain control of the thread and putting it in the right hole.

6. Make a Necklace by threading beads - We gave her large wooden beads (from a craft store) and a shoelace to string the beads on, to help with fine-motor coordination.

7. Tweezers- Another small-motor techinique: have the children use tweezers to pick up small objects (small beads, thin puzzle pieces). We used large tweezers that came with an insect-study kit.* *

8. Tongs and pompoms. A bowl of coloured pompoms and a tong can keep your child happily engaged while she gains strength to use the tong properly.

9. Punching Paper- Let your little one have some fun making holes through a punch. A punch from a stationary store for children (i got mine from Kinokunia) , coloured strips of paper and a bowl is needed for this activity.
Various designs like flowers, letters, stars or animals for punching paper used for craft work are available in the market.
A punch uses the thumb and the forefinger and can engross your child with the colourful designs that are taken out. One can use the punched coloured paper designs by gluing them with a gluestick onto a card.

10. Dressing up Teddy (Snaps, Small Buttons, Big buttons, Zips, Shoe laces, velcro, belt)

11. Opening Bags/Dresses with chains.

12. Plastic pipe (Nuts and bolts) for wrist turning (screw and unscrew) : Give empty bottles with screw on lids (make sure the plastic is safe and also the lid size is big enough) in the bathtub for them to open and close rather than the popular bathtoys. Opening the bottles, adding water into it and then pouring it out can be real fun.

13. Wet Pouring - Pitcher to pitcher for wrist turning. Things needed are a tray, 2 pitchers, one with coloured water, 1 small sponge to wipe.
14. Dry Pouring - Pitcher to narrow neck bottle for wrist turning - Use kidney beans or rice. I did two activities with this. (1) Askng her to count while she picked up and dropped kidney beans one by one into the bowl to understand how much counting she has learnt. Was surprised to see the counting go on till 13. Great going for a 21 month old, aint it? :D
(2) Pouring from bowl to cup and from cup to bowl. Regular practice will help reduce the number of kidney beans falling out.

15. Sandpaper numerals: Make your own DIY sandpaper numerals and ask your child to trace the numbers. You will be amazed how fast they will learn the numbers or alphabets.
16. Knobbed cylinders: This is a montessori tool that you will find in montessori schools or can purchase online.
17. Stacking cubes from largest to smallest and so on.
18. Quadrilateral prisms/horizontal stairs
19. Carrying a table with the help of 2 adults will help build coordiantion and judgement.
20. Draw outlines of shapes from cut out cardboard shapes placed on paper

21. Water plants with a watering can
22. Putting pegs on clothes line: Make a mini clothesline and let your child hang all her doll's clothes on it and add pegs on to it.
23 Putting cloth pegs on the edge of a bowl. Also, teach your child to press to open the peg and put in the center of the bowl and vice versa. You may also teach the colours while mentioning the pegs.
24. Roll a mat
25. Pencil sharpener: Let them sharpen a pencil and watch how the pencil gets sharpened, and make a craft of the disposed stuff.
26. Play Doh: Get some playdoh and show your child how to make various shapes, letters, numbers or roll them into snakes. Hiding buttons in playdoh for your child to take out can strengthen hand muscles. Our daughter funnily doesnt like playdoh and is in fact funnily scared of it coz it changes shape. :D

27. Wooden Puzzles which have handles for picking up the pieces.

28. Self feeding with spoon
29. Winding a clock
30. Bathing with a mug
31. Piggybank: Make a piggybank by cutting a slit in a box. Ask your child to push play or real coins into it.
32. Squirt guns: Use small squirt guns for your child to use in the bathtub or outside. You may want to ask your baby to only aim at the bathtub walls or he/she will lose the squirt gun.
33. Finger Rhymes: Do finger plays and action rhymes with your child such as the Eentsy Weentsy Spider, Two Little Blackbirds, Where is Thumbkin, etc.
34. Involve your baby in loads of household activity from folding washcloths, make believe sweeping the kitchen floor with a small broom and dust pan, or spreading butter on toast.
35. While cooking, or baking, make them stir the batter for you.
36. Encourage them to make cards for their friends that involves cutting, pasting etc.
37. Popping the bubbles in a bubble wrap is something we all have enjoyed. Let your child enjoy it too.
38. Practice writing letters in a pan filled with a thin layer of salt or cornmeal. You can also make letters, numbers, and shapes out of Wikki Stix or draw on a Magnadoodle.
39. Use stencils for your baby to trace letters.
40. Water droppers can be used to make water color paintings or just to transfer water between small containers.
41. Locking and unlocking of doors.
42. Scrunching up 1 sheet of newspaper in one hand. This is a super strength builder.
43. Shaking dice by cupping the hands together, forming an empty air space between the palms.
44. Using a screwdriver

The list of similar activities can go on...Just put on your thinking caps. You can find many other interesting options. Any more ideas...please add to the list. Hope this was of help to all mums and dads with a toddler like mine.

Activities to Beat Boredom...

A common problem I keep hearing from parents and friends is that their children are getting bored with nothing to do. An energetic toddler can also make things worse by pulling the house down, the way he/she wants it.

There are plenty of simple activities that you and your child can enjoy doing at your own home.

Today, I thought of describing one such activity that we as a family enjoyed together one evening. Its a good means to keep your lives happily engaged without getting bored or making your child sit for hours glued to the television.

Just pick up sheets of paper and crayons/paints and a place where your toddler will be safe to spread out his sheets of paper and fly on his/her wings of imagination....and you never know...there within your own home could be the next budding 'Picaso'.

We plan to do this more often, provided the wind is blowing in the right direction.

We had brought big sheets of paper so that our 21 month old could colour on it with no restrictions on space.

She preferred adding some more colour after Daddy's drawing was done. Let the grass be red and the sun be green, don't criticize, just keep ENCOURAGING!

Let your child learn to express through colours...

Nov 13, 2008

Building Language Associations

While the Olympics was going on, our toddler saw the swimming championship happening on TV and pointed to the TV screen with excitement, "Fish! Fish!" We were soo amused. We told her that it was an 'Uncle' in the water.

Associating 'water' with 'fish' was the first learning for our child. Associating 'people' with 'water' is another learning. Now, she knows that boats, submarines, etc can also swim/float in water....not just 'fish'.

Next, she needs to learn that 'not all things' can swim.