Develop fine motor skills with manipulative toys

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A puzzle is a wonderful manipulative toy for your child
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A child's fine motor skills will develop quickly if given manipulative toys

Fine motor skills refer to the coordination of small muscle movements, which occur in the fingers, for instance, and in coordination with the eyes. Dexterity is a term that is frequently used when talking about motor skills of the fingers and hands.


Adults do not think much about their motor skills until they become elderly and begin to lose them and then we realize how much we miss the ability to easily remove a lid from a jar or tie a shoe lace. Infants are not born with them but they quickly start to develop fine motor skills.


Babies begin grabbing at objects early on, which is considered a primitive gesture, and then progress to more precise activities, such as that which require eye-hand coordination.


When an infant, or adult, uses his small muscles that control the thumb, fingers and hand, this is a fine motor skill. Without these skills, we could not draw, write or button our jackets.


As a child grows, he becomes more adept at holding grips, construction and doing tasks that require both hands. Playthings and toys that encourage reaching, grabbing, threading and inserting pieces are valuable to develop fine motor skills. By the time a child is pre-pubescent, he is capable of expressing himself artistically, through sculpting, clay modeling and drawing, all of which require fine motor skills.


A manipulative toy, which helps develop fine motor skills, is something that requires the child to manipulate with his hands and fingers and it also requires coordinating the hands and the eyes. Manipulative toys promote fine motor development because the child has to control his finger and hand muscles. A puzzle is a manipulative toy and is self-correcting. If the child does not put the right piece in the right space it does not work. The puzzle only fits one way and the child has to figure it out, which he will, eventually.


Play dough is another manipulative toy and helps strengthen and develop fine motor skills. The dough can be pounded and rolled or squeeze into shapes. Designs can be made. Plastic knives and forks can be used to cut the dough or make designs in it.

In time, a child can complete activities independently and is able to manipulate zippers and buttons and put his clothes on, and take them off, without assistance. Eventually, a child is able to use a fork and can even cut out shapes using scissors.

As the fine motor skills become more and more refined, the child learns to scribble and then progresses to printing and then writing in cursive.

Drawing is an excellent way to hone fine motor skills. The scribbles will eventually turn into consistent symbols. As the child gets older, he will begin to draw faces and eventually he will add a trunk and arms and legs to his figures.


You can also assist your child by providing her with modified tools that she is capable of handling. Crayons may be difficult for young children to use because their hands and fingers are so small. Consider buying your child 3-D tetrahedral shaped crayons, excellent educational toys which the child can grab in any position and which enable your child to make more precise pictures because she will have better control. This allows her to be more successful at self expression because she will not be frustrated by her inability to use a tool. Get primer pencils for your child, because they are thicker and easier for a small child to handle.


You can help a child develop fine motor skills by making sure that he is positioned properly when he is engaging in fine motor tasks, such as drawing. His chair should not be too tall and he should be sitting comfortably and in a stable position because stability is required for good mobility of the fingers, hands and arms.

Resources: fine motor skills activities fine motor skills

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