If you have young children, you know that finding new activities for them daily to balance fun, learning, and family time can be a challenge. Combining all three goals into one activity is an easy way to meet your child’s needs across the development spectrum. For young children, practicing fine motor skills is vital to meeting milestones. By combining opportunities to practice this skill with fun projects like crafts, you can set your family up for success.
Fine Motor Skills Explained
Early childhood is a time of rapid development for children. It can be hard to keep track of everything they’re learning and working towards! Fine motor skills are a crucial part of physical development since they pave the way for everyday tasks like self-care, schoolwork, and participation in hobbies. While gross motor skills refer to body movements that coordinate larger muscles and joints, fine motor skills are focused on the hands, fingers, and wrists. Activities that offer a chance to strengthen these muscles and experiment with different movements can help children develop their fine motor capacity.
Opportunity for Practice: Crafting!
Little kids need abundant opportunities throughout the day to develop their fine motor skills. Many of your family’s usual activities will provide a chance for development, including mealtimes, getting dressed, and even playing games! If you’re looking for a low-stress way to add more practice into the day, craft projects are the perfect solution.
Children learn best through play, and crafting can be a play-based experience for everyone involved. Combining a fun, low-pressure atmosphere with steps requiring fine motor skills will foster your child’s development with only a few key resources.
The Best Crafts for Fine Motor Skills
If you’d like to use crafts as an opportunity for fine motor development, look for projects that fit three criteria:
- They’re age-appropriate.
- They feel fun for your particular child and family.
- They incorporate at least one core fine motor skill.
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Here are a few ideas for each motor skill area to get started.
Learning to use scissors is hard! Fortunately, almost every craft project can involve some cutting. Choose kid-friendly scissors so that you don’t worry about cuts. Projects that allow your child to practice cutting through different materials are also beneficial. These flowers can be scaled in difficulty and used to decorate papers and windows or glued to pipe cleaners for 3D bouquets. Egg carton crafts are another great option since they require slightly more advanced cutting and can be tailored to any theme.
The ability to hold a pencil and write starts with learning how to hold crayons and markers. For fine motor development, focus less on whether or not your child is drawing recognizable objects and more on whether or not they’re using an age-appropriate grip. Introduce abstract art to your kids to strengthen their grip without requiring a specific scene; make a big poster to hang in their room!
Pasting and Decorating
While putting a sticker onto a piece of paper may seem like a small task, this can be tricky for developing hands. The cross-body coordination necessary to make this successful is a skill that requires plenty of practice. Any craft that involves pasting and decorating will help children develop this process. Nature collage suncatchers incorporate fine motor skills with a trip outdoors — a winning combination for any kid! Projects like homemade treasure boxes are another way to personalize decorating for each child.
Lacing can be one of the more challenging activities, so save these crafts for your older preschool children. The hand-eye and cross-body coordination for lacing and threading takes time to master, so it’s a good idea to start with crafts that only incorporate a tiny bit of this skill and work your way up. Basic lacing is perfect for heart cards to hang around the house or give as gifts. Adapt this rainbow lacing activity to fit any holiday or theme for more advanced practice.
With some creativity, your child won’t even know they’re practicing fine motor skills; they’ll just see the fun!