– Written by Nashella Zarek, elementary school teacher with Masters’ in Reading/Language Arts
Providing Young Child with Opportunities to Develop their Fine Motor Skills: Everyone knows that children develop at different rates in different areas. One of the ways in which children vary widely in their development is in their fine motor skills. Some children easily master skills like tracing, cutting, writing and drawing, while it is cumbersome and difficult for others. As with any other skill, there are ways that children can improve their fine motor coordination and providing them with opportunities to practice these skills can make it much easier for them.
In my first grade classroom, I have noticed that my students’ fine motor skills are lower than usual this year, and I have looked for new ways of incorporating extra opportunities for practice into my day to help them develop the muscles that they will need most especially when writing. In the past, there were many chances for children to practice these skills with things like art projects and play time. In today’s jam-packed curriculum, it can be harder for teachers to fit ways to fit these crucial skills in. It is in a teacher’s best interest to squeeze in chances for kids to cut, trace, string, and build.
While I am teaching small guided reading groups, the rest of my class works on different activities where they have a chance for some independent practice on some of the reading, writing and spelling activities we have been working on in class. I decided this year to add a fine motor station to these rotations so that my class would get a few minutes every dedicated to stringing beads, building with blocks, cutting out patterns, using clay, bending Wikki Stix and pipe cleaners and any other type of activity I think will be fun and interesting for my students.
I recently acquired a Spielgaben and was thrilled at the opportunities it would present to my children for math and cooperative learning activities. Once I received it, I realized that it would also be a great way for my students to get some extra fine motor practice. I put the Spielgaben in the fine motor station, and was instantly thrilled with my decision. The boys and girls came up with more interesting ways to use it than I ever could have imagined!
I simply introduced my students to the materials and waited to see what they would do with them. Keeping in mind that they were at the fine motor station, several of the children began to to string the beads with holes. Another student then got the clever idea to use the rods as “skewers” and announced that she was creating shish kebobs!
In addition to the lacing activities there are many other components of the Spielgaben that promote fine motor strength, like the example here that my students constructed! After working together to tie the cube onto the beam, they decided to use the rings to decorate it. What great chances to get those finger muscles moving!
The fine motor opportunities are endless with the Spielgaben, and I have decided to keep this as a permanent fixture in the fine motor station. I also use the toy during other times during the day/week, but this daily opportunity to explore and build has provided my students with excellent opportunities to build their fine motor skills.