Categories
Fine Motor Activities

Fine Motor ABC

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I recently reviewed a book sent to me by the author Stacie Erfle, MS, OTR/L. It has lots of simple and fun activities with great visuals to help your child strengthen their fine motor skills. The book is alphabet themed, so each letter of the alphabet represents a different activity beginning with that letter! I promised to test drive it…Here are some way that I use the book and the kids love it!

1- Whatever letter of the Alphabet I am working on that day, I ask the children to open to that letter and we do the corresponding activity.

2- Child opens up to each letter of their name and we do those activities

3- I made a spinner with all the letters of the alphabet. We play a game where the child spins the wheel and whatever letter they fall on is the activity we have to do.

You can purchase on Amazon. Enjoy!

 

Categories
Fine Motor Activities Sensory Activities

Chevron Wall Art

I tried this activity that I found on http://www.refinery29.com/diy-paint-project with one of my 10 year-old students with ASD. The hardest part was putting the tape, however the rest requires minimal skills. It was an absolute success. It makes a beautiful gift just on time for Valentine’s Day!

You Will Need:

  • Canvas
  • Acrylic Paints in bright colors
  • White Acrylic paint
  • A paintbrush
  • Wide Painters Tape

The Activity:

You will need to do this activity in 2 parts since the first part has to dry completely before completing the second part.

First, begin by having children paint the entire canvas in stripes.

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Use different colored paints and let it dry completely.

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Then cut 2.5 inch pieces of painters tape and cover the dried canvas in a chevron pattern. Push down well on all corners.

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Paint the entire canvas with white acrylic paint. You can choose to do 2 coats and let dry completely. Next time i’d like to try this with silver or gold paint!

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Peel off the tape to reveal a beautiful art piece!

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Categories
Fine Motor Activities

14 Most Effective Tools to Add to Classroom Stations

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Working in the schools for many years, I see that teachers have less and less time to work one-on-one with a child that has fine motor difficulties. I therefore try to provide teachers with tools that they can easily incorporate into their classroom stations so that children are working on fine motor skills any chance they get. These simple changes are a wonderful pro-active way to make your stations go from great to AWESOME!

Advice from an OT:

 

1-Add clothespins:

The resistance from the clothespins strengthens pincer grasp. Just make sure that children are using a squeezing the pins with their thumb and index finger (they can also add middle finger if the strength is not there) all other fingers must be tucked in the palm of the hand.

Ex: Pick up pompoms to count or sort, write upper case letters on clothespins and have children match them to a card with its lowercase match.

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2. Add Adaptive chopsticks or tweezers:

The important thing is the placement of the fingers on these tools. We are looking to mimic a pencil grasp. Make sure that children use their thumb and index finger only. All other fingers are tucked inside the palm of the hand. The webspace (space between the thumb and index finger is open and forms an O, not flat. Use for all stations that require picking up items.

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3. Play doh or putty:

The resistance of the dough helps strengthen little fingers. There are so many ways to use dough. Ex: hide items in the dough and have children dig with little fingers, make little balls using the thumb, index and middle finger only to make little balls (these can be used to count), roll the dough to create letters and numbers, use dough to teach cutting, make stamps and imprints.

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4. Tiny items:

Use neat pincer grasp (i.e. thumb and index finger only, all other fingers tucked in the palm of the hand) to pick up tiny items like beads, beans, cheerios and mini shaped erasers (my favorite).

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5. Use coins or buttons:

An important skill to improve dexterity involves Nesting and retrieving small items. Nesting: Use the thumb and index finger to pick up coins and hold them in the palm of the same hand. Retrieving: hold coins in the palm of the hand and “wiggle” fingers to retrieve one coin at a time from the palm of the hand to the tip of the thumb and index finger. Use coins count, sort or stack.

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6. Push pins:

Place worksheets on a cork board and use pushpins. Children use a neat pincer grasp to hold the pin. I like using the extra-large push pins for little kids but you can use a variety of sizes. Ex: Draw a shape on construction paper, have kids push on the outline of the shape to “cut” out the figure, kids make letters using several pushpins, use for counting, use to poke the answer from worksheets.

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7. Use rice or bean bins:

An important skill to develop is tactile discrimination. This means that children use their fingers only to feel for items without visually monitoring what their fingers are doing. (This is useful when fastening buttons on oneself. We are more efficient closing buttons without visually monitoring our fingers). Hide items in bean bins for sorting, counting, categorizing, alphabet games like hiding all sorts of small figurines and asking children to find the ones that begin with the letter A only.

8. Stickers:

Peeling stickers is a great way to use little fingers and improve pincer grasp. Use stickers with numbers, letters, colors, categories etc…

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9. Easels:

One of the best tools to use to strengthen the wrist and position fingers correctly in preparation for handwriting. Put all worksheets on easels.

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10. Use containers with fasteners, twist tops and lids:

Place items such as cards, blocks etc.. in Ziploc bags or pencil cases that have zippers, buttons or snaps. It strengthens fingers to open and close them to retrieve items from inside them.

11. Use Manipulatives:

When picking manipulatives for counting or letters etc… try to pick some that that have resistance such as lego, links etc… (instead of blocks). Learning Resources has some great options.

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12. Use grippers, fat and short writing tools:

When picking tools for writing, choose short and fat markers/crayons. You can also attach grippers to all pencils.

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13. Use a stylus:

When children are using iPads, use a stylus with a gripper on it to mimic pencil grasp. Children are very motivated to use iPads and therefore using a stylus (with a gripper) gives them the chance to practice proper pencil grasp which they can then carry over during handwriting.

 

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14. Use dry erase boards:

Dry erase boards and markers are great for teaching skills. I find that children are so excited to use these tools, more fun and appealing than a pencil and paper. When teaching something new, consider using easels!

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Categories
Fine Motor Activities

Miss Mancy’s Favorite Toy List

The parents I work with always ask me for a list of suggested toys for Hanukah or Christmas so this year I put together a little list for different age groups:

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3 to 5 Years Old:

1- Dino Popper is a great way to strengthen little hands. I like the Dino more than the other animals because it fits better in small children’s’ hands.

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2- Snap and Learn Lady Bugs: This toy works on so many wonderful skills. Not only can you build number concepts and color concepts but the resistance allows to strengthen little hands and also works on constructional skills like a puzzle.

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3- Alex Toys ABC Beading: This is a versatile toy that not only helps children work on bilateral coordination skills through beading but it can be used to create words and learn letters.

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4-Mr Potato Head: The classic Mr Potato Head is a great toy for little ones. They work on body part identification as well as strengthen little hands.

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5- Smart Snack Cupcakes: Kids love this toy! They match the top and bottom of the cupcakes depending on the shape. I like to have older children try to put these together by placing the cupcake behind their backs so as to occlude vision.

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5 to 7 Years Old:

1- Magneatos: Get ready for your child to be busy for hours! These balls and sticks are large magnets that can be used to create really cool structures.

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2- Magnetiles: This is also a great toy! These magnetic shapes are flat and are used to create wonderful structures.

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3- Design and Drill: This is another fabulous toy! Children can copy designs by screwing colored screws with an electric drill! Kids really love this! They can also create their own design. This is great for hand strength and to shape the arches of the hand.

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4- Suigz: Love this toy for strengthening little fingers. By squeezing the squigz, children build structures that attach to one another with suction. Don’t forget to have children break apart the structures; another opportunity to strengthen hands/fingers.

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5- Edu-shape Magic Symmetry: Here is a fun way for children to create mirror images. This is a wonderful visual perceptual activity that requires problem solving and visual motor skills.

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7 Years and Up: 

1- Spot it: Excellent visual perceptual game. Children race to find 2 matching shapes, letters or numbers on the card.

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2- PathWords Jr: LOOOOOOVVVVVEEE this game. Such a smart toy! Children have to find the required words using different length/colored sticks. They must therefore use visual perceptual skills along with spelling skills. This is one of my favorite games for older children.

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3- Chocolate Fix: Here is another very cool game that works on visual perceptual skills as well as motor planning and problem solving. By process of elimination they try to figure out where the different chocolates go on the tray.

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4-Poppin’ Puzzlers: I grew up on this game and loved the thrill of finding the shapes before the tray popped! Now ypou can play against an opponent!

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5-Curious George Discovery Beach Day: Kids really really like this game. I like that it works on visual perceptual skills and visual memory. Children try to remember where they found the item from the card they picked.

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You can purchase any of these items on Miss Mancy’s AMAZON store. CLICK HERE for link

Categories
Fine Motor Activities

Fall Foam Stickers

1- Create a fall scene using stickers This is a great activity for little ones. Peeling stickers has the advantage of working on pincer strength (an important component of dexterity) while allowing children to express their creativity.

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2- Create a pattern on a small rectangular card. Draw a line to separate the card and ask children to copy the pattern that you see. They can then cut them in half to create fall tags. This is a wonderful visual-perceptual skill to learn.

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3-Draw outline in paper and children have to find the matching sticker to the outline. This is a great visual perceptual game.

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4-Peel 6 different stickers and place on a large die. Roll the die and the first to find that sticker wins a point.

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For older children Create patterned cards. Children pick a card and have to pick out the stickers that create the pattern.

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5-Create a sequence pattern and ask children to continue the sequence. This is a great visual perceptual and problem solving task.

6- Learning to trace is an important precursor to handwriting. Children learn to control their pencil. Using raised foam stickers is a great way to teach that skill to little ones because the sticker is raised and stays put! You can make this activity more challenging by not sticking down the sticker to the paper. Children have to coordinate both hands while tracing so that the sticker doesn’t move.

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7-Use a foam cube (dollar store) and stick foam stickers on it. Dip in paint to create a stamp. Note: if the foam sticker is too thin, put a second sticker on top of it. Stamps are a great way to strengthen little hands.

8-Work on handwriting by stick foam animal stickers on paper and draw a talking bubble where children can practice to write. If you laminate the bubble, you can re-use with dry erase markers.write

 

Categories
Fine Motor Activities

CUTTING- Everything you need to know!

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1- Begin with good scissors. i.e the blade is not too long, scissors are easy to open. Use Left-handed scissors for left- handed children (the blade opens up on the opposite side). Personally I like Fiskars with the round thumb opening and oval (wider) opening for other fingers.

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2- Position fingers correctly. This means make sure children use a thumbs up approach when cutting. Most children do not pay attention to the positioning of scissors…teach it! I show them the different sized holes and I tell them that the thumb goes in the small opening and other fingers in the larger opening. Teach it, teach it, teach it!!!

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Correct finger positioning

 

3- While cutting, make sure children keep the thumb up (ie the wrist is supinated, never pronated), their arm close to the body and the wrist in neutral (never flexed).

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Incorrect finger positioning 

 

4- Begin with resistive mediums such as playdoh, straws, card stock then graduate to thinner paper.

5- Always start with Prep activities to cutting. Here are some that I use: I like putty for strengthening and finger awareness. I also use tools that mimic the open/ close motion of scissors or mimic the cause and effect of squeezing a tool to get an outcome ex: hole puncher, spray bottle, clothespins, tweezers, egg holder, grabber.

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6- For beginners I  highlight a thick line where they have to cut.

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7-  If a child has a hard time cutting during art project and I want him to still be part of the art project, I use a highlighter to draw a square or circle frame around the picture.

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8- Teach cutting in the following order: snip, cut across paper, cut on a straight line, zig zag, curve. For shapes I like to teach square, triangle, circle then complex shape.

9- I like to verbally cue children with a little song as they cut…I’ll say open and close open and close and stop, now turn, open and close etc…I will also remind them to stay on the road!!!

10-  Kids can become so focused on the “open and close” motion that they don’t always realize where the scissor is cutting… so I teach it! Are you on the road?

 

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Are you on the road? “No!”
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Are you on the road? “Yes!”…so we cut

11- If the paper is too large, cut around it, to make it easier for children to manipulate.

Categories
Fine Motor Activities

Button the Princess

Therapeutic Corner:

Buttoning is a bilateral coordination skill as it requires both hands to do work simultaneously. Many children have difficulty with this task so I break it down in a fun and easy way. Teaching children how to manage buttons should be done first on a surface that can be placed in front of them and once that is mastered, it can be taught on items that are on their own body such as a shirt. (This is a more difficult task because it removes the visual component of this task and relies on tactile skills).

The Activity:

I used felt to create the face of a princess. I cut facial features out of felt and sewed buttons in the correct spots. This activity is fun for girls. You can also purchase it here at MissMancy’s Shop.

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They can change the hair color and accessories by buttoning and unbuttoning pieces unto the face!

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Here is a picture of the correct way to complete this activity:

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Here in the INcorrect way to complete this activity:

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