School is out and summer is the time for being outdoors, enjoying family activities and even working on  fine motor skills! Since school is out, your children may not be getting therapy for a few months. To help them continue progressing and maintain the skills they gained during the school year, it’s important to incorporate fine motor activities during the summer months.

Below are just a few fun suggestions to get you started with summer time fine motor fun:

Fine motor skills refer to “manual dexterity,” or the coordination of the small muscles in our hands and fingers, along with our eyes, in order to complete tasks ranging from simple to complex.

Fine motor skills help us carry out a variety of routine tasks; picking up a small bead, shaping our hand around a medium-sized ball, using a pencil to form shapes and letters, or using our fingers to dexterously button the small buttons on the sleeve of our shirt.

These skills begin developing from the beginning of life, such as when newborns reflexively grasp your finger after you place it in their palm, and continue into infancy, such as when infants move their arms randomly to bat at a toy suspended in front of them, to control their grasp on a rattle, to using a precise pinch to pick up a Cheerio and bring it to their mouth, or to build with blocks, draw pictures and get dressed.

Activity 1:

Make a bin of small plastic containers, of different sizes, with lids. Spice jars, butter/margarine tubs, make up containers, travel shampoo bottles, etc. all work well.

Have your child practice opening and closing the containers or placing small items in them. Things like pony beads, pennies, cotton balls can be sorted and placed in the jars. WARNING: use caution and supervise small children, as this is a potential choking hazard.

You can also cut holes or slits in the lids of the containers. Have your child push cotton balls into the holes, or orient pennies into the slot.

Your child can play with a variety of tongs to pick up small items (tweezers, salad tongs, small strawberry huller all work well). Smaller tongs work better with small hands.

Activity 2:

Let your child help in the kitchen and around the house!

Have them stir foods, scoop or pour liquids, spread or cut condiments with a small plastic safety knife, wash dishes using a sponge and then use both hands to wring out the sponge. They can also use a spray bottle to wash the kitchen table, water plants, or rinse the bathtub. 

Activity 3:

Use Playdough, toothpicks and straws to practice making shapes or letters.

You can determine the simplicity or complexity of this activity depending on the age of your child.

There are many ways to practice writing skills without pencil and paper.

Have your child “write” in a container of dry uncooked beans, rice or sand.

Use a flashlight to “write” on the wall or ceiling in a darkened room.

“Draw” a shape, letter or word on your child’s hand, arm or back with your finger and have them guess what it is, or have them “draw “on you.

We hope these activities give you ideas for fun, practical ways to keep the learning going during the summer!