Winter holidays are a magical time of year and offer lots of fun opportunities to help build children's motor skills! Here are 6 fun ways to promote fine, gross, and sensorimotor skill development this holiday season!
1. Wrapping Presents – Gift wrapping is an excellent fine motor activity (and is a good lifelong skill to teach children at an early age). Measuring and folding wrapping paper promotes fine motor control and bilateral coordination skills; peeling and tearing scotch tape strengthens fingers and hands; cutting the paper helps refine scissor skills! Work on developing more precise fine finger skills by having kids peel / stick bows on gifts, and tie / curl ribbons (adult supervision is needed for curling ribbons).
2. Make Your Own Wrapping Paper – Make gifts nice 'n personal by creating homemade wrapping paper! Kids will have a blast coloring, stamping, and stickering to create their own custom wrapping paper. Friends and family will love the nice personal touch, and it provides an engaging way to encourage creativity while building pincer grasps, finger strength, dexterity, and fine motor skills.
3. Holiday Baking – Baking makes a wonderful holiday tradition for families! Measuring, opening containers, scooping, pouring, sifting, mixing, rolling out dough, separating cupcake papers, and sprinkling decorations are all great ways to promote finger strength, eye-hand coordination, bilateral, and fine motor skills. Have your child use little tongs to decorate cookies or cupcakes; such a fun way to build pre-scissor skills. Gathering everything you need for baking projects (pans, bowls, measuring cups, etc.), measuring the ingredients, and following recipes are all wonderful ways to work on motor planning and executive function skills.
4. Snow Play – Most kids love playing in the snow, and provides a sneaky fun way to build gross motor skills and provide helpful sensory input. Shoveling snow, rolling snowballs to make a snowman or snow fort, sledding, and making snow angels are a few fun ways to build hand and arm strength, bilateral coordination, and provide nice doses of vestibular (movement) and proprioceptive (deep pressure) sensory input. Use tongs and sand toys like buckets, shovels, and molds for fine motor fun in the snow. Colored water in spray bottles provides a terrific way to let your child “paint” in the snow; the sky's the limit!
5. Outdoor Treats – Have kiddos make snacks for nature's creatures by rolling pine cones in peanut butter and birdseed – or string popcorn to hang on the trees in your yard or local park. These neat sensory activities are great for promoting bilateral coordination and fine motor skills; a neat way to entice birds into your backyard for the whole family to enjoy!
6. Paper Snowflakes and Homemade Ornaments – Making paper snowflakes and homemade ornaments are engaging holiday activities for building finger strength, scissor skills, and providing helpful practice using both hands together in a coordinated manner. Homemade ornaments can be as simple as stringing holiday colored beads onto pipe cleaners then bending them into candy cane shapes, or gluing sequins and pom poms onto ornament-shaped felt cut-outs. Folding and cutting through multiple layers of paper (for the snowflakes) provides a nice finger workout, and kids are always delighted to see their unique snowflake creations! The most important thing is to have fun as you create together!
Happy motor-skill building and warmest holiday wishes from all of us here at the Therapy Shoppe!