Strategy

Fine Motor Tools & Toys

Fine Motor Manipulatives, Fine Motor Tools, Fine Motor Toys

UDL 4.1

Fine Motor Tools & Toys are manipulatives that strengthen the small muscles in children’s hands and fingers. Fine motor development is an essential skill students need to color, cut, write, and play, when manipulating small objects (e.g., beads, Legos). To effectively support students’ fine motor development, teachers integrate an intentional variation of Fine Motor Tools & Toys that support fine motor strength (e.g., play dough, scissors, lacing cards, tweezers) into planned activities and centers for free exploration. Integrating Fine Motor Toys & Tools is a developmentally appropriate approach for young learners building the fine motor strength necessary for future academic tasks (e.g., sophisticated pencil grip, handwriting). Fine Motor Tools & Toys afford young learners the “right” level of challenge, promoting persistence, frequent practice and also providing a sense of accomplishment.

Implementation Tips

Selecting Tools & Toys
Choose Fine Motor Tools & Toys that are age appropriate, stimulating, and relevant to the intended purpose (e.g., stickers for crafts, small Legos for building, tongs in the sensory table). Ask an OT for additional ideas.
Integrating Throughout the Classroom
Place Fine Motor Tools & Toys in differing, relevant areas of the classroom for appropriate use (e.g., Legos in block area, scissors in art area, play dough on tables designated for exploration).
Sustaining Student Interest
Rotate Fine Motor Tools & Toys to sustain students’ interest, motivating students to engage in fine motor practice (e.g., add stickers and confetti to art area, exchange standard scissors for craft scissors, use dry erase markers and boards as an alternative to paper and pencils).
Cross-Curricular Practice
Integrate Fine Motor Tools & Toys into content lesson plans (e.g., If the content theme is “making friends,” designate a center in the classroom for students to make friendship bracelets using beads and string).
Whole Group Implementation
Support children’s fine motor development with planned and intentional large group activities (e.g., class art project, drawing exercises, finger painting).
Encouraging Students
Encourage students to properly manipulate motor tools and toys to foster development of fine motor muscles (e.g., peeling stickers, hand placement for using scissors, how to hold string while threading beads).
Offering Additional Support
Offer additional support to children who lack fine motor strength through supplemental activities, tools and toys (e.g., scissor cutting outlines, paper-ripping activities, cutting playdough with scissors).
Developmentally Appropriate Practice
Avoid pressuring early learners into more sophisticated fine motor tasks before they are ready. Young students are growing and strengthening their fine motor muscles. Work with an OT to ensure fine motor practice is purposeful, but fun and developmentally appropriate.

Examples

Learning Centers
At the beginning of the school year, a teacher notices that students are developing fine motor strength. Students grip crayons and paintbrushes with a fisted grasp and experiment with different ways to manipulate small objects. To promote fine motor strength, the teacher intentionally integrates diverse materials and tools in appropriate centers to support students’ development through play. The teacher places small Legos in the block area, stickers and scissors in the craft area and tweezers in the sensory table, to encourage students to utilize varying Fine Motor Tools & Toys in all areas of the classroom. The teacher frequently rotates tools and toys that serve the same purpose to appeal to students’ senses and curiosity, encouraging consistent exploration.
Content Integration
To further promote fine motor development, the teacher looks for opportunities to intentionally integrate opportunities for fine motor practice that align with the content objective. This week’s math lesson focuses on geometric shapes. To integrate fine motor tools into the lesson, the teacher plans a center activity for students to create shapes. Students are tasked to use rubber bands and peg boards to make geometric shapes. The following week, students are tasked to use tweezers to count out cotton balls as they place them in a jar, which aligns with a counting content objective. The teacher understands that varying fine motor tools, manipulatives, and activities will keep students stimulated, engaged and motivated to learn.

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