children need to develop strong hands and
shoulders in order to control writing utensils such
as chalk, crayons, paint brushes, rollers and pencils.
Using a variety of shapes such as those used in the
toys, stencils, ink stamps, rubbing tools
and sponge painting help children
to refine grasp patterns.
These activities are fun and emotionally as well as
physically prepare children for the more challenging
task of controlling a pencil to form letters and numbers.
Prewriting and drawing activities also develop the visual
motor skills required to make discriminations as children
learn to read and
Other recommended activities include:
- Glitter pens
- Changeable markers
- Finger paint
- Water paint books
- Forming shapes on plastic bag filled with
- Sidewalk chalk
- "Drawing" in wet sand or a corn starch and
Dolls with fasteners
such as buttons, ties, velcro straps,
zippers,hooks or snaps are a great way for
develop dexterity while learning dressing skills. Dressing
up a doll is a great motivator and not as frustrating as
trying to quickly get dressed to run out and play.
Another tip is to practice on oversized clothing such as
grandma's big old sweater with large buttons. Opening
fasteners is often easier
than closing so encourage
learning that skill first. Make a big bag out of an old shirt
or pair of pants so that children can unfasten the buttons,
zipper or snaps to get at something fun inside. Dress up
also provides a great opportunity to manipulate
Activities such as lacing blocks, boards and beads also
eye-hand coordination and dexterity to use both
hands together. Be sure to use
lacing boards with large
holes for younger children. They will also
larger beads and stiffer laces or string.
Try this for an even easier modification: Cut out a circle
inside a yogurt cover. Tie it to the end of stiff
Then show a child how to string these easy to
grasp " yogurt cover
beads" onto the cord.
simple form boards or single piece
puzzles and peg boards help
children to develop spatial
perception. This means that children learn how one
object fits inside or next to another object. Toys like
this also teach language concepts such as "in" and
"out", "next to", "above" or "big" and "little".
Pegboards can vary greatly in difficulty level ranging from
simple large pegs with big whole to small "match stick"
size pegs. The peg boards made of foam require develops
hand strength as the child pushes the peg in. The "easy grip"
mushroom shaped pegs are ideal for helping children develop
grasp patterns and hand control. Some peg boards teach
number or alphabet concepts. Other peg boards use different
sizes and shapes to promote discrimination skills. Pegs that
can stack vertically teach up/ down and high/low concepts.
that Teach Matching, Counting
and Letter Concepts
Some of our oldest and
most popular games have endured
time because they continue to teach basic
in a fun way. Children make sense of the world by putting
objects into categories. This begins with matching objects and
later- matching pictures.
The many versions of the Lotto
game develops picture
matching skills. The game Candy Land requires children to
discriminate colors and pictures of candy creations. Since
no reading or counting is involved, very young children can
Simple board games such as the popular Hi HO Cherry -O help
pre-school age children learn to take turns, recognize numbers
and count. Use of the spinner develops hand control. Where the
pointer lands determines how many cherries to put in the bucket
or back on the tree. The first player to get all the cherries in the
The game of Trouble does
not require reading, but it is for older
children (over 5 or 6 years of age) since it requires strategy. The
players must handle the frustration of having pieces captured
and sent back home. The "Pop-o-matic" dice container is fun
to push. Players move their pegs according to the number on the
dice. This game develops eye-hand coordination and left/right and
clockwise/counterclockwise directional concepts.
The game of Sorry involves
even more fun and strategy and is
recommended for children age eight and older. The game requires
some simple reading skills, more complex counting and rules to
follow- all of which makes this game fun for adults.
Fine-Motor Skills lead
to Reading and Writing
Fine-motor toys and
activities develop the eye-hand coordination,
visual-perceptual skills, memory and learning concepts required
for reading and writing. Please visit these pages for more learning
activities and information:
©2008 Barbara Smith
Disabilities Pediatrics Geriatrics Fun and Games Hippotherapy Resources