Tuesday, February 15, 2011

WFMW: 10 Fine Motor activities

I work in an autism class. We work on fine motor skills. A lot. Here are some of the things that we do to help our kiddos with fine motor activities. 

1. Clothespins- we give each child one clothes pin and have them use only one hand to pick something up and put it on a plate. We have really thin rectangular blocks at my school so we use those a lot but it could be anything- just as you can get the clothes pin around it. 

2) Cutting Sandwiches- so....that's actually my name for it. I really have no idea what it's called. All you need for this is two pieces of cardboard, a piece of paper, and a brass paper fastener. Cut your two pieces of cardboard into identical shapes- these will be the "bread" of your sandwich...they should be as alike as possible. Cut a hole through the middle of each, making sure that the holes line up. Stick a piece of paper in between each cardboard shape- making it a sandwich. Use the brass paper fastener, insert it through the hole on one side of the cardboard, through the paper, and then open the two sides away from one another on the back of the second piece of cardboard. The goal is for the child to be able to cut around the piece of paper and end up with the piece of paper being the same shape and size as the cardboard. For circles this is fairly easy. However, for a shape like a triangle the child has to be able to hold the "sandwich" together as they turn and cut. I hope this makes sense?

3. Tracing: We use a lot of shape templates. I have found that for kids with poor fine motor it is much easier for them to use templates where they are tracing on the inside- such as a shape cut out of a square piece of cardboard, then for them to trace the outside of a shape. Being able to press their pencil against the inside walls of the cardboard to form the shape seems to help them a lot. For those of you who are visual--- here's my word picture for you. It would be easier for a child to trace the inside of a cookie cutter rather than the outside. We don't use cookie cutters mind you, it's just to give you a visual picture. I really wish I had pictures from school to show you but I don't. Perhaps I will take some and update this post.

4. Play-doh. Oh, how we love play-doh. But we don't just let them squish it around. Nope, we give them tasks. We will often mix things into the play-doh, beads or beans for instance, and then have them search through the play-doh and pick them all out.

5. Paint! Finger paint or with paintbrushes. Usually trying to trace (large) shapes or letters that area already on paper.

6. When I worked at the pre-school we had parmesan shakers like you find at pizza parlors and the kids would put those red, hollow, stir stars through the holes.

7. Tongs- This is harder than using clothes pins because once you grasp an item with the clothes pin it automatically stays shut and you have to pinch it to open the clothespin and release the item. Using tongs is harder because it forces them to a) open the tongs to grasp the item, b) hold the tongs closed to keep the item, c) open the tongs to release the item.

8) Legos- or blocks that stick together. We usually use the very small square legos and they get to play around and stick them together.

9) Tracing- plain old boring paper and pencil tracing. This is my least favorite (and probably theirs, too!) but we do it. *sigh* Some of our kids have a very had time tracing but if we highlight everything that they need to trace it seems to help them.

10. Grab Bag Game- this is actually a lot of fun. It's also something you could easily re-create without having to buy the actual product. You fill a bag- ours is fabric- with small distinctly shaped items. We have a lot of weird little shapes with different textures. You need two of each shape. One goes into the bag and the other the teacher keeps. Then the teacher will show a shape to the child and let them feel it with their hands. The teacher then takes the shape back and the child sticks their hand into the bag. Without looking the child tries to grab the same shaped piece from the bag.

What have you used for fine motor that seems to work well? Anything that the kids really love? I'd love to know!


  1. Have you heard of Bubber? It's available through several schooling resource catalogs. It's a very unique material - but my hands-on children love to play with it to keep them busy when they're listening to me read, etc.

  2. No, I haven't! I'll have to check that out! Thanks for the tip!