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Learn about Fine Motor Skills and How to Improve Them

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Updated May 16, 2014

Little Girl Painting.
Stephen W. Morris/Digital Vision/Getty Images

What are Fine Motor Skills:

Fine motor skills involve the small muscles of the body that enable such functions as writing, grasping small objects, and fastening clothing. They involve strength, fine motor control, and dexterity.

How Fine Motor Skills Affect Learning and Living Skills:

These skills are important in most school activities as well as in life in general. Weaknesses in fine motor skills can affect a child's ability to eat, write legibly, use a computer, turn pages in a book, and perform personal care tasks such as dressing and grooming.

Fine Motor Weakness and Practical Strategies for Improvement:

If your child has fine motor weaknesses that may affect his education, discuss your concerns with your child's IEP team. Evaluation by a physical and/or occupational therapist can determine if his fine motor skills are a concern and if therapy can improve them.

The IEP team will use therapists' assessments and other evaluation data to determine if your child needs regular therapy as a related service. If your child needs therapy to benefit from specially designed instruction, these services will be written into the individual education program.

Toys and Games Help Strengthen Fine Motor Skills:

Many toys develop fine motor skills:

Drawing and Coloring Strengthen Fine Motor Skills:

Develop skills by drawing with your child using markers, crayons, colored pencils, and chalk. Drawings needn't be perfect, and scribbling is just fine for developing fine motor skills. Find more recipes here.

These Scratch Magic kits have the cool factor older children like.

Make your own by coloring paper with multiple colors and shapes and then covering the sheet in black crayon. Scratch off with an orange stick or safety scissors.

Develop Fine Motor Skills with Origami:

Origami is a paper folding art that builds skills and is a fun family craft. You can use construction, wrapping, or other decorative papers to make these fine motor skill building origami shapes.

Ready for a Fine Motor Skills Challenge? Try Paper Cutting Arts:

Paper cutting activities build skills and control and can be as simple or complex as you need. Beginners can start with cutting out paper chains and progress to more complex projects.
More Fine Motor Skills Crafts:
  • Paper snowflakes ideas. The tortilla snowflake is not to be missed.
  • Greeting card and place mat crafts are also a fun fine motor skills activity.
  • Kirigami is a Chinese art that can build fine motor skills using decorative paper cutting. For older children, ages 9 and up, this can be a fun activity that rewards kids with a decorative keepsake suitable for the refrigerator art gallery.

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