These fun and simple fine motor coordination activities are the perfect warm-ups for handwriting and other fine motor tasks, whether in the classroom, at home, or in a therapy session!
Kids use their hands and fingers all day long as they play and complete functional tasks. They grasp small objects, they fasten zippers and buttons, they play with games that have small pieces, they open snack packages, and they have to pick up those snacks to eat them!
Whew! Those little fingers are working hard! Kids who struggle with in-hand manipulation skills have difficulty moving and manipulating objects within their hands. There are three in-hand manipulation skills: shift, rotation, and translation.
Kids need to be strong with all of these skills to be successful with school-based, play-based, and self-care tasks. As a warm-up to other activities like handwriting during OT sessions, I like to lead kids through a quick round of Finger Gymnastics to target the in-hand manipulation skills.
Twirl the Baton (Rotation)
Pick a fun and sparkly pencil for this one! Show kids how to twirl the pencil like a baton between their fingers!
Inch Worm (Shift)
Have the child grasp a pencil toward the tip like he is going to write with it. Then, using those tripod fingers see if he can inch his way up to the eraser without using his other hand!
Hide and Seek (Translation)
Choose a set of 3-6 small objects (depending on the size of the child’s hands) – you can use marbles, pennies, or craft pompoms. Place the objects on the table and challenge the child to pick up the objects one at a time using only one hand – picking them up with their fingertips and “hiding” them inside their palm.
Then, challenge the child to bring the objects one at a time from the palm of the hand to the fingertips, again – using only one hand!
Why Finger Gymnastics for Fine Motor Coordination?
These activities only take a few minutes (or seconds even), but if they’re practiced consistently they can make a big difference in a child’s in-hand manipulation skills! These activities would be appropriate to try with younger preschoolers and I continue to use them with kindergarteners who continue to struggle with in-hand manipulation skills.