February is Fine Motor Month

Set up some special activities related to fine motor development in your classroom.  Here are some ideas to encourage eye-hand coordination and strengthening of small muscles:

INFANTS: Any activity in which the baby is reaching for or batting an object promotes eye-hand coordination. Set up a center in your classroom that includes clutch balls, busy boxes, interlocking (snap) blocks, nesting cups, bean bags, and shape-sorting boxes.  Also provide containers of all sizes to fill and dump and 1-2piece puzzles w/ knobs to manipulate. For older infants, feeding themselves cheerios or other finger foods is great fine motor practice.  Encourage your parents to provide these types of foods when you feel their child is ready.

TODDLERS: Young toddlers enjoy puzzles, shape sorting blocks, beads to drop in a can, and assorted manipulatives.  Although it is difficult to keep these materials out on shelves all the time, setting aside a “special” time of day to use manipulatives is a good idea.  Perhaps, before or after lunch works best or when children arrive in the morning.  Small paintbrushes are great for painting boxes and cleaning things in the water table with soap and water! Sting or yarn painting is fun too!
Older toddlers enjoy using special writing tools like chunky chalk (on black paper), chubby markers, pens (w/ supervision), and golf pencils.  Play-doh is a wonderful exercise in fine motor development, as well as tongs and cotton balls, clothespins and mittens, and fingerpainting!  Children this age also love to draw, fold their paper and “mail” it in a box.

PRESCHOOL:  February is a great month to set up your class writing center or “post office”. Provide all kinds of writing materials, paper, junk mail, envelopes, stickers, etc. so that your students can begin writing!  Remember to set up a “cutting box” area and include stencils, letters to manipulate and copy, buttons, and a variety of sizes of writing materials.

2 cups of flour
1 cup of salt
2 cups of water
2 T. of cream of tartar
2 T. of vegetable oil
Mix all ingredients in a pot till smooth.
Cook over medium heat till a ball forms and sticks to spoon
Cool, knead and store in a ziplock bag or airtight container.
(You can add powdered jello for color or smell OR extract OR glitter)

1 cup ivory snow flakes detergent
3 cups warm water
First add the food coloring to the water.  Then add the soap flakes and beat with an electric mixer till the soap is fluffy and can be manipulated.
4 cups of clean play sand
3 cups flour
1 cup water
¼ cup vegetable oil
Combine the flour, sand, water, and oil in a mixing bowl.  Knead with your hands until the mixture forms a ball.  If the mixture is too dry, gradually add water until it reaches a nice dough consistency.  If the mixture is too watery, gradually add more flour.  This is a super play dough for children who really enjoy tactile experiences.

2 cups baking soda
1 and ½ cups water
1 cup cornstarch
Place all ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat and stir until smooth.  This mixture needs to boil and be stirred constantly until it is thick.  Remove from the heat and cool.  Now let the children enjoy the feel and texture, as well as the movement of this rubbery goop!

½ cup white glue
food coloring (optional)
¼ cup liquid starch
wooden spoon
Put all the ingredients in a bowl and mix with a wooden spoon, craft stick or tongue depressor.  Let the children get their fingers sticky and have a lot of “goopy” fun!

Flour, salt, liquid tempera paint, cardboard, empty squeeze bottles, mixing bowls, and paper towels.
Mix equal parts of flour, salt, and water together in a bowl.  Add tempera paint for color. Mix well and pour into a squeeze bottle that has a narrow nozzle.  Squeeze the puffy paint onto cardboard.  The mixture will become hard when it dries.

You will need: paper, an ice cube tray, eyedroppers, and coffee filters
What you do:  Cover the workspace with newspaper.  Flatten a dry circular coffee filter and lay it on the newspaper.  Fill the sections of an ice cube tray with water.  Add several drops of food coloring to each section of the ice cube tray.  Using eyedroppers, drop the colored water on the coffee filter.  The more color you add, the more the colors will spread and blend.
by Nancy Nathanson

Prime Time Early Learning Center

Regional Education Director