Archive for the '6 Principals for Fine Motor Activities: #5' Category

Summer Fun: Bowling with Blocks or Bottles!


Materials needed

Play Dough                                      Marker board and markers

Marbles/balls: Size will depend on size of the blocks that need to be knocked down

Ten wooden blocks of varying sizes or sixteen ounce water bottles (each filled partially with sand or water and carefully sealed)

1. Choose a place to play on the floor or at a table.

2. Choose the name of your team. Help your child with the beginning letter of the team.

Four year olds: Make the letters for your child out of sticks or wicky sticks or write the letters for your child on the marker board.  Do not expect him to write letters at this age.

Five years old and up:  Help your child write the beginning letter of each team on the paper (playing field).  If your child cannot write the letter, talk him through it or write it for him.  Remember the larger the letter is written, the easier it is to write and to remember.

3. Have your child use both hands to roll the play dough into long ropes to become the “bumper” pads for your bowling alley.  Put the bumper pads in place.

4. Set the blocks or bottles in a triangular pattern as in real bowling.

5. Roll the marbles or large ball down the alley, knocking down the blocks or bottles.

6. Help your child write tally marks or write numbers on the marker board to keep score.  Do not expect your child to keep adding the numbers. That is your job!


Rolling marbles down a swimming pool noodle to knock down small blocks.  The child places the marbles in the noodle, aligning the noodle with the blocks.

Shoe box with three doors cut out of it: Place the inverted shoe box at the end of the alley.  Give each “door” a number. As he rolls the marbles down the alley through a door, the child receives that number of points.

Place stickers with shapes or letters or numbers on the bottom of each bottle.  When a bottle is knocked down, the child may write or draw the shape, letters or number that appear for an extra turn.  Be a good sport if you don’t get a turn!

Memory game: Insure that there are pairs of matching stickers on the bottom of the bottles. Ask your child to find the matching pairs by turning the bottles over. The person with the most pairs wins the game.

Developmental Skills:

 Gross Motor: If playing on the floor, balance in sitting may be improved as the child moves to hit or retrieve the ball or to move his players. When standing, balance may be improved as the child shifts his weight to maintain his balance.

Fine Motor: Rolling the marbles requires precise eye hand coordination. Setting up the “bowling pins” requires arm strength and an adequate grasp of the objects. Using both hands together (bilateral integration) is promoted by using a large ball and by rolling the Play Dough ropes.

 Perceptual: Setting up the “pins” into a triangular shape stresses diagonal perception.

Numbers and letters may be learned as well as concepts of up and down.

 Language: Development of social skills such as taking turns and learning to play fair as well as losing or winning may be enhanced. Concepts of same and different, how many, are practiced.

 Tactile/Kinesthetic: As the fingers are used for precise movement, feedback is received as to their position with the hand and rest of the body.

Page 20 & 21 Alphabet Soup: Stirring Your Child’s Interest in Letters by Lyn Armstrong O.T.R.


Scissor Skills: Stability before Mobility

One rule to remember when you are preparing a child to do fine motor work such as using scissors, is “stability before mobility”.  We all need to feel like we are not going to fall before we put our hands out to use tools.  Encourage a “safe” feeling by placing a child in a chair that fits (feet flat on the floor) and at a table which fits (top should be two inches above his bent elbow).  Encourage a “safe” feel by working in sitting on the floor.  Try this interesting trick to see how it feels to fell “unsafe”.  Sit in a chair of your choice.  Scoot to the edge of the chair and pick up your feet to the point they are not touching the floor.  Do not lean back in the chair (for support) and put your arms and hands out in front of you as if to write or use scissors.  Pretty hard to do!  You are not stable!  So please remember before you put the scissors in your child’s hands to “stabilize” first!

Teaching Scissor Skills

During my recent workshops, the subject of how to teach scissor usage repeatedly came up.  I would love your input as we discuss the numerous skills needed for the actual use of scissors!  These are the ones I could think of!  Can you think of more?  We will take time to discuss these in my next blogs!

  1. Good posture: Stability before mobility
  2. Use of two hands together
  3. Strong hands
  4. Interest in scissor usage
  5. Concept of open and shut
  6. Equipment: types of scissors, practice “stuff”, paper weight

Isaiah 55:12

6 Principles for Fine Motor Activities: #5

5. “Begin at the edge of the Familiar” (Dr. Murdina Desmond)

 ALWAYS insure success by starting with a task your child can already do and building on those skills.  Success promotes motivation which promotes continued learning. If he is able to do a task easily and completely, introduce the task with an additional step to make it slightly more difficult.  For example:  Your child is able to play the game Connect 4 by easily holding and dropping the disc in the slots.  Add a pair of toaster tongs or strawberry hullers to be used for picking up the disc which provides an additional challenging step.

Next week we will finish with Principle #6:  “Freedom to Be” (Sally Dutton)

6 Principles for Fine Motor Activities: #4

4.Start with body, move to 3 D, move to paper

 As we have talked about before, your child needs to be secure by positioning either with the right sized furniture or with good posture before he is able to reach out effectively with his hands.  Each hand needs to be able to move from the left side of the body to the right side of the body. This is called crossing the body’s midline.  A child needs to be able to do so to help establish a hand dominance between ages 4 and 6, place a block diagonally for a “door” in a house, draw a diagonal, and last make a letter with a diagonal in it.  Can you see the progression?  Crossing midline with hands (body), building with blocks ( 3 D objects), and finally drawing and writing (to paper)!!!! Encourage lots of outside play!

P.S. Spatial terms are also  learned with the body first, then in play with blocks and toys and then transferred to paper. Choose a spatial term such as “beside”.  Teach it with body movements, then in play with toys and finally with a worksheet.

Next week we will look at principle #5:“Begin at the edge of the Familiar”

6 Principles for Fine Motor Activities: #3

3. Start with larger and work toward smaller 

To help us remember new motor movements our rotational joints like our shoulder joints and larger muscles have better “motor memory”.   This especially applies when you are practicing writing with your child.  Practice a letter with large movements until you are sure the child can make the letter correctly.  Then move to marker and paper to practice the letter. 

 Remember your child needs to feel secure with his body before reaching out with his hands.  Use larger activities to strengthen his whole body and provide the correct furniture to make him feel secure when he sits to work with his hands. Then pull out the fine motor activities.

Next week we will look at principle #4: Start with body, move to 3 D, move to paper

6 Principles for Fine Motor Activities: #2

2. Start with stability and work toward mobility

The body part must feel secure in different positions before it is ready to move. Make sure your child feels secure with his body by providing appropriate child size furniture or positioning him comfortably.

Furniture: Chair: Child’s feet should be flat on the floor. Desk or Table: Have your child sit in a chair that fits him/her.  Have him bend his elbows keeping the forearms parallel to the floor (making an “L with his arm).  The desk top should be 2 inches above his bent elbows.

Having furniture that “fits” your child will help him feel secure with his body and not worry about falling out of the chair.  His hands will be free to use scissors, hold a pencil or fork or play with small toys.

Next week we will talk about principle #3: Start with larger and work toward smaller

If you would like a copy of all 6 principles at once, please e mail me at  thanks!

Handwriting Questions

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Alphabet Soup: Fun Activities to Stir Your Child's Interest in Letters by Lyn Armstrong O.T.R