Developing Fine Motor Skills

In Counting Down to Kindergarten, the art project and playdough stations are the main builders of a child’s fine motor skills. The first and foremost goal behind these stations is to help develop the child’s fine motor skills and build hand dexterity. Many articles online and academic journals state that a child who enters kindergarten with much experience building their fine motor skills will feel more successful in kindergarten (click here and here for the latest research). In fact, it is the second most important factor that many kindergarten teachers state as a determiner of kindergarten readiness (the first being the social/emotional skills of negotiation, getting along, sharing and using kind words). Many people think that fine motor skills is the ability to write with a pencil. It is in part, but there is so much more to fine motor skill building. If we, as teachers and parents, can get the children to use their hands in a myriad of ways, then we are building optimal fine motor skills.

When children are engaged in activities that help develop their fine motor skills, they also are developing many other skills: self-regulation (self-control), cognition (creating art and considering design), coordination, language development (talking about what they are doing and using vocabulary), dexterity, and following directions (following the steps in each project). This is where the playdough and art element of our projects come into play. We enjoy open-ended art projects each week using numerous materials and art mediums. The playdough station helps give strength to the child’s hands, develop their coordination with cutting, rolling, and forming the dough, and builds their cognitive skills by planning what they are building and carrying it out. It is also one of the ultimate sensory experiences. I scent our dough so it has a fun smell, the child uses his/her vision to play with it as well as its pleasant to look at, and they are touching it repeatedly. Many senses are involved in playing with playdough. It seems to me that each child really enjoys spending time at these stations and that is wonderful because of the skills they are developing.

Here are a few articles that stress building the child’s fine motor skills (click here and here). Click here and here for simple art ideas to do with your child at home. Click here for the playdough recipe that I use (I also add a packet of Kool-Aid drink mix to color and add scent.)