Summer break can be a wonderful time for enjoying the great outdoors, promoting family bonding, and for increased leisure activities and free play.
Many camps, summer therapy programs, and other organized summer activities that kids look forward to/parents count on – have been scaled back or even canceled this year due to the pandemic; activities that can be so helpful for maintaining and boosting children's motor skills over the summer. It's more important than ever as a result, to provide activities at home that will help your child maintain and continue building their crucial motor skills. Consistency is the key to maintaining the progress made during the school year. There are endless kid-friendly activities to achieve that goal that doesn't involve worksheets or sit down paper-pencil tasks. Today we're going to focus on fun ways to continue boosting children's fine motor skills this summer!
Strengthening Fingers and Hands
- Hide tiny treasures like pennies, marbles, or putty charms in putty for kids to dig out with their fingers
- Pack a picnic lunch and let your child be in charge of opening/closing Tupperware, wrapping silverware in folded napkins, sealing Ziploc baggies, etc.
- Use squirt bottles to water plants
- Cooking activities that involve stirring, pouring, measuring, sifting, etc. are great for building fine motor skills
- Play with a ball launcher/poppers. Set up a bucket as a target for kids to aim at
- Fill a squirt gun with watercolor paints and let your kids play artist
Fine Motor Coordination and Precise Finger Skills
- Have kids sort or roll change by denomination and/or put change in a piggy bank. These are fun ways to help build the finger grasps needed to efficiently hold writing and eating utensils
- Activities with tongs (see this article for specific ideas)
- String beads to make a bracelet or necklace
- Incorporate squeezy finger droppers into water play
- Have your kids create a racetrack with chalk, string, or cardboard – and have races using hot wheels cars, wind up toys or marbles
- Play dress up using clothing with different types of fasteners; encourage your kids to put on "shows" or "plays" making tickets and setting up an impromptu stage and seating
Bilateral Coordination (using both hands and/or sides of the body together)
- Swimming lessons*
- Hopscotch, shooting baskets, playing kickball or four square*
- Playing with a Zipper Zoom Ball
- Riding a bicycle*
- Jumping rope*
- Washing the car with a cloth/sponge in each hand
- Legos and other constructional toys such as Nut and Bolt fidgets, Pop Beads, Stacking Pegs, Flexy fidgets, and Plus Plus Playsets
- Play catch with a Velcro Catch Set
- Planting flowers
- Do different animal walks* (crab, duck, bear, or even wheelbarrow walks, etc). Having strong gross motor skills promotes having good small motor skills.
Handwriting and Promoting Correct Letter Formation
- Make letters using Wikki Stix or jumbo pipe cleaners
- Use a flashlight to write letters on the ceiling and wall
- Make lines, circles, zig-zags, and other pre-writing geometric shapes with sidewalk chalk; trace over them using different colored chalk each time (rainbow writing)
- Use your finger to make letters in sand, shaving creme, or on gel pads
- Practice coloring inside and on lines, and making letters using Do-a-Dot Markers
- Use play dough, play foam, or putty to create letters, numbers, animals, and shapes
- Make letters using toothpicks and little marshmallows (as the connectors)
- Have your children lay on the floor and make letter shapes with their bodies
- Use finger paints to practice drawing pre-writing shapes and letters; do this activity on a vertical surface to increase the therapeutic value
Scissor Cutting Skills
- Tear up pieces of magazines or junk mail and glue them on construction paper to make a collage
- Have your child help cut out coupons
- Set up 2 buckets (one full of water, one empty) and have your child use a sponge and squeeze it out to transfer water between buckets
- Use a punch to decorate around the edges of homemade cards or to make confetti
- Do activities with tongs (see this article for specific ideas)
- Tear paper into strips using the thumb and index finger
- Practice cutting using a variety of textures and consistencies (regular paper, construction paper, cardstock, envelopes full of junk mail, playdough, cardboard, sand paper, etc.)
*Denotes gross motor skills that promote bilateral coordination; strong gross motor skills provide the foundation for strong fine motor skills.
Please feel free to reach out to us with any questions you might have or favorite activities that have been helpful for your child (or the children you work with), we'd love to add them! Know we're here for you and always just an email away!
Thanks for being with us today. Be well and have a great week!
– The Therapy Shoppe OTs 💗
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