Try these simple fine motor activities using only one simple material – pencils!
Every household has a pencil or two stuffed somewhere in a junk drawer, on a desk, or in mom’s purse. Here are 5 beautifully simple play activities with pencils for kids using pencils that pack a lot of developmental fine motor punch!
Use the eraser end for dot art. This can be done using an ink pad, paint, or even a container of chocolate pudding if that is all you have on hand. Kiddos can create free art, or spell out their names with dot letters. They can use dots to create alphabet letters or numbers, trace over lines you have created for them, or just go crazy with dots all over the paper!
Play Dough Fun!
Use a pencil as a tool during your next play dough session! Use the pencil to roll out the dough, poke holes in the dough, or make lines in the dough. If they press hard enough, they can even divide the dough into sections using those strong hand muscles.
Use two pencils as “tongs.” Have the kiddos practice picking up marshmallows, fruit loops, or small plastic animal figurines and place them into a bin. They can try using them chopstick style in one hand, or have one pencil in each hand for some midline crossing, bilateral play. The smaller the item they are picking up, the more challenging it will be.
Penny Sliding Practice
Have kids slide pennies across the table into a container using only the eraser end of the pencil. Can they sustain enough pressure all the way across the table to drop the penny in? How many can they get in? How fast can they do it? Have them count their pennies when they are done. Try drawing different lines on a piece of paper (zig zag, curved, etc.) and have your child slide/push their penny along the lines.
If you’re feeling brave, let your child experiment with sounds using two pencils. What does it sound like when you gently tap them on different surfaces? What about rolling them on the table or between your hands? Can you create a beat? This is a great way to explore sound and rhythm when there are no drumsticks lying around.
Try some finger gymnastics! Challenge kids to manipulate a pencil in different ways: rotate it around like a baton using the fingers (tell them to hold the pencil like they’re going to write something, then rotate it around so the eraser end is down, then repeat…only use one hand!). Using only one hand, inch the fingers like an inchworm from the eraser end to the tip and back.
For Virtual Sessions:
Ask parents/caregivers to have the following materials on hand: pencils, paint or a stamp pad, play dough, cotton balls/marshmallows/other soft manipulatives, pennies. Then, simply provide the instructions listed above and model the different activities on screen.
Skill Areas Addressed:
Fine motor skills, bilateral coordination, motor control, visual motor skills