Development of fine motor skills for infants and toddlers is crucial and should be worked on intentionally and frequently.
According to MedLinePlus.gov, fine motor skill or “fine motor control is the coordination of muscles, bones, and nerves to produce small, exact movements.”
You can imagine how necessary fine motor skills are in everyday life, so get started early. Depending on your child’s age, different activities can be done to improve this skill.
Throughout the past year and a half, we have used various activities to improve Little Coop’s fine motor skills. He has done very well with all of the activities we tried. But I felt that we needed to change it up a bit. I was thinking through all of the items in our house to see if there was a unique way to practice these skills. Then I remembered that we had the game Connect 4.
The yellow and red discs are small, and therefore, this game is recommended for ages 6+. Since Little Coop is only going to be 18 months this week, I decided it would only be safe if I closely monitored his handling of the discs. (I DO NOT RECOMMEND THIS ACTIVITY IF YOU CANNOT GIVE 100% ATTENTION TO YOUR CHILD) To be extra cautious, I counted the number of discs that we were playing with to ensure that he didn’t hide any or get one tucked away under another toy, only to choke on later. So, have fun but be safe.
I pulled out the game and put the “board” together. What do you call that part of Connect 4 anyway? I just looked it up…it’s called the grid. Anyway, as with any new toy, Little Coop was very enthusiastic to get started. I started by taking one disc and showing him how to place it in the grid. For the first few minutes, he attempted to put the discs in sideways. After a while, he tried to give up and decided to dismantle the grid. I let him do this for a minute or two before refocusing his attention on the task.
This time, I showed him how to hold the disc so that it would go into the grid. Then I did hand-over-hand direction with him. He really caught on after the hand-over-hand. Not only was I proud of him for getting the hang of it, but that it entertained him for 30 minutes. Us parents know that 30 minutes of fun is priceless.
As we were playing, I realized that there are many different ways you could play/learn with Connect 4.
- Hand/Eye Coordination – placing the discs into the grid in any order. Just getting your child to hold the disc facing the proper way to get them to slide into the grid easily.
- Counting – counting the discs in, counting the discs in each row and column, and counting the number of discs in each color.
- Sorting – having your child sort the discs by color.
- Stacking & Balancing – having your child stack the discs one on top of another, outside of the grid.
- Order – teach your child how to go in order from left to right, from right to left, 1st 2nd 3rd, etc. by having them place the discs into the grid accordingly.
- Strategy – if your child is old enough to understand how to play the game, you can teach them how to strategize their moves to win the game.
- Gravity – ha ha, when you slide the release bar at the bottom, you can teach your child how gravity works as all of the discs come falling out.
- Winning and Losing – since this is a game, you can also teach your child how to act appropriately when they win or when they win a game.
What other games or items do you use around the house to develop fine motor skills?
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