As occupational therapist it is part of our job to analyze a task and figure out what skills need to be worked on to improve a specific task or skill for a child. If they are struggling with large print, why. If they are struggling to copy letters or cutting, why. Is it a strength issue, a motor control/ coordination problem, visual perceptual delay, &/ a visual motor issue? Within doing this we must figure out activities to work on these skills that are lacking within a fine motor activity. Here are some activities I did in the last two weeks, to work on some of these skills. These activities work mainly on motor control and coordination. Again, to be able to do motor coordination as a fine motor skill they must be able to do it as a gross motor skill. Normally, gross motor happens first so it is important to not leave it out when you are addressing the fine motor aspect.
The first activities, I am showing you, are for the elementary student but can be adapted for a younger student. I took a plastic lid off of a Tupperware box and taped a visual boarder. For my younger students, I used a Koosh ball placed on top of the tray. You can also use a large plastic serving size type spoon to do this task. For my older students, I used a ping pong ball on the tray. Then I would have the student complete a basic obstacle course while they try to not let the item fall off. This works on motor control/ coordination, arm stability, and forearm supination. Now supination is important for writing and cutting. Basically, it is having the thumb rotated on top. This is done when they carry a tray but make sure they hold the tray with the thumb on top (in picture)
I happened to do this around Easter so I also did it with the plastic eggs placed on the tray. This is actually easier than the ping pong ball so another great way to adapt the activity.
On the note of Easter, I also used these egg dying scissors/ tongs for a task this week. This is a perfect way to work the muscles needed for cutting. I put cotton balls on the floor and said they were Easter bunny tails. The kids held a cup in one hand and used the tongs with their other hand while completing a gross motor task. Of course you can make this real easy by just having them do it on a table.
Now another high level motor control task I did, this week, was taking a firm card board paper towel role, cut out a section for a marble, and tape to the lid. I used the paper towel roll from my schools brown paper towels as they are firm. I have the student hold the lid (with thumbs up), I place the marble at the center of the lid, and I tell them to get the marble to go through the tube. Later I did mark the right side of the tube with a red line. I would tell the child to get the marble through the tube starting on the right red line side. Then not only are you working on the skills for motor control but also on visual scanning. If you had a bigger tray you could add another tube.
I do something similar to this with my younger students. I often use this when a student is struggling with coordinating turning the paper while cutting with their other hand. Often they do not have strong bilateral motor coordination skills so this is a fun way to work on that skill. I take a swimming noodle, cut it in half, and tape together with different colored duck tape. I place a marble in it, the student tries to rotate the noodle while keeping the marble in and getting to the other tape color.
Another different “builder” skill I did this week was for my younger students that struggling writing letters. I did also use it with writing words too. I took a gallon plastic bag and filled it with dollar store colored hair gel. Of course, having your student help you make this activity is another great hand strength building task. Make sure those thumbs are up while they squeeze they bottle.
Then I took the HWT capital letter construct cards and placed them underneath the gel bag. Finally, they traced the letter using their finger.
For my older students, that do not love that pencil in their hand, I also used it for them to write their words on the gel pad.
I hope this gives you some fun ideas to use with your child or student to build critical skills needed in life.