Covid lockdown significantly damaged toddlers' speech and motor skills as they weren't given the opportunity…
Art projects offer one of the best ways for young children to develop their hands and learn the pincer grip they’ll need to write successfully later on. But the Montessori artwork is a little different than what you’ll find on Pinterest. It’s kid-led, which means you provide them with the materials they need and take a step back to let them explore and create.
When you use the Montessori Method to fine-tune motor skills, the trick is to find activities that your child will come back to over and over again on their own, without having to ask them to practice.
Will the results be recognizable or cute? Not necessarily, but your child will be involved in the process and with every brushstroke or wavy line they will prepare their hand for writing and other fine hand movements.
Here are 10 Montessori-style art ideas to help promote fine motor skills:
Peeling off stickers from a sheet is hard work for a young child, but they are very motivated by the sticker and will persevere in the difficulty. For toddlers, cut out the sticker sheet so your child only has 4-5 at a time. This will keep it from being overwhelming. You can also peel off the white backing from the sticker sheet in advance to make it easier.
2. Tear the paper
Tearing strips of paper into small pieces is something even the youngest of toddlers can enjoy. In addition to being fun, tearing paper helps strengthen small muscles in the hands and develop hand coordination.
First, choose a beautiful paper and cut it into strips. Wrapping paper or some of your child’s paintings are great choices. Then place a few strips of paper and a small bowl on a tray and show your child how to tear the paper and place the pieces in the bowl. As your child gains strength and control over their impulses, you can introduce scissors for a similar activity.
Clay is a great alternative to Play-Doh as it requires more hand strength to mold. There are a number of ways you can change the tools you provide to help your child work with their hands. Working with clay can also be very calming and therapeutic for many children.
4. Pencil rocks
Most kids can’t wait to draw and practice writing before they perfect the three-finger gripper needed to properly hold a pencil. An incorrect pencil grip is very difficult to relearn, which is why Montessori classes prevent children from using pencils until their hand is ready.
Pencil rocks provide the perfect backing for this step. Their shape encourages children to hold them with a three-finger grip, without any interference from you. You can also just break regular pencils into small pieces or use those inevitable broken pieces from an older sibling’s scrap pile. While young children will often use a full grip with a long pencil, they will need to use their pliers for small pieces.
Chalk requires more pressure than pencils, which helps your child get a feel for how much pressure it takes to write. Offer them chalk on an easel, small board at a table, or sidewalk chalk to give them the experience of drawing from different angles and on different surfaces.
6. Stringing of beads
Stringing beads is a great fine motor activity as most kids are really drawn to beautiful beads and the level of challenge can easily be adjusted depending on the type of bead you choose. Start with larger beads and toddler pipe cleaners. Help them turn the pipe cleaner into a bracelet or bookmark.
For older children, you can gift thread, pony beads, and a thread needle (not sharp!) And show them how to make necklaces.
Painting is another wonderful activity for developing fine motor skills at all levels. Younger children can paint with their fingers, which is great for building hand strength and experimenting with applying different levels of pressure, while older toddlers can paint with cotton balls if they still working on their clamp.
Once your child can hold a paintbrush with the three-finger grip, painting with a paintbrush is a great way to practice control and precision. To set up a Montessori-style painting, provide a tray with a cup of water, a brush, paints, and a sponge to clean up spills. Make everything accessible to your child and also show them how to set up and clean the activity.
Showing your child how to use glue can be intimidating due to the risk of damage, but it can be a great exercise in fine motor skills. Provide your child with small things to stick on, like glitter or tiny pieces of paper to maximize the fine motor challenge and encourage precision.
9. prick a pin
The pin prick, or punch, is a classic Montessori exercise for ages 3-6.
For this exercise, a child can carefully punch holes around the edge of a drawn circle. If the child does this carefully and makes the holes close together, then he can cut out the shape. It takes a lot of focus and control. As with anything sharp, you’ll want to make sure your child is prepared to work safely and to always supervise this activity.
Once your child has mastered the pincer grip and begins to write with a pencil, tracing can be a great way for them to improve their hand control. Children in Montessori classes draw metal inserts, a special set of metal shapes, but you can certainly use simple stencils at home.
Once they have mastered how to outline a shape, show them how to decorate the shapes with designs and patterns.
Art is something that most children are naturally drawn to on their own. By thinking about what art materials you offer your child, you can use their creative experience to help them develop fine motor skills as well, without any prompting.
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