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Preschool fine motor and handwriting development

This post was originally from 2012 when I routinely had what I called a Mini Charmer’s Pre-K Class. I had 10-15 children that were 4 years old and they spent 1.5 hours a week in class with me and their peers in my 1000 square foot gym, and in the fine motor and craft room. The purpose was completely enrichment and learning to be ready for kindergarten in a fun way. I thought I would repost. Hope you enjoy!

2012: Today in our Mini Charmer’s Pre-K class, we continued our focus on numbers.  Our class contains ten gifted kiddos ready to learn formal handwriting prior to kindergarten.

After spending the first several months on uppercase letters the change to numbers is a nice change of pace.   Boys especially like numbers as they relate to numbers often better than girls ( girls often have an easier time with letters).

Our first activity is for the kids to find the numbered foam-shaped gingerbread men in the gym.  Each child is assigned a number to find.

Kids had to find their name and see the number they were to find that was hiding in the sensory gym

This format helps kids to increase skills in visual perceptual, visual memory, and number recognition.  This also helped with team building, as we heard “Jack, here is your number!”, “thanks!”, and so on.   Next, we took all of the numbers and laid them out on the floor one by one.  I asked, “is a 4 bigger or smaller than a 12?”.   As we continued this process we ordered them from 1-20 on the floor and then counted forward and backward.  Many kids this age do not consistently recognize numbers in the teens and so this repetition is great for them.  

After some good gross motor action in the gym, we settled in the classroom and did centers that warm up and increase fine motor skills. 

Wind-up toys were a big hit. Wind-up toys help so much with translation (stabilizing something with one part of your hand and mobilizing with the other part) as well grip strength. 

Most of these came from kiddie meals

Pop beads were another center.  These pop beads are quite hard, but the kids had no trouble at all with them!

Pop beads

Pop beads of this size are super because they force a child to utilize a stable pincer grasp while using strength in pushing together.   This carries over to grasping a pencil correctly.  

Another fun center was the textured stencil and rubbings of dinosaurs and sea creatures.  This would also be a super Christmas gift (kids love these).  They are made by Melissa and Doug.  The stencils are two part-  they first can be used to stencil amazing animals, insects or dinosaurs and then they can be used as a rubbing plate.  

Using a crab rubbing plate

In this picture, he is completing the stencil side.  Next, he will put the textured stencil under the paper and then rub the crayon to make the drawing come to life.  As an occupational therapist, this is one of my all-time favorite activities to develop hand and handwriting skills WITHOUT doing handwriting.  The children quickly learn about stabilizing the plates with their non-dominant (“helper hand” ) or else the stencil moves all around. Great fun for all.  My 11-year-old even likes doing these stencils.  

Lastly, I teach the direct skill of writing numbers.   We use our Handwriting Without Tears book and the kids lay on their stomachs (it works on core strength but also makes sure that the wrists are stabilized appropriately).  This is usually when I allow for their snacks to be eaten and I have soft classical music playing in the foreground.

I give everyone a slate chalkboard and demonstrate how to write each number 1-3 today and then each child practices it.  I was truly amazed at how well they did and they were so proud of their accomplishment.  It is a wonderful experience to see children learn to love handwriting and gain such confidence.

1 Comment

  • Henry Peter
    Posted June 14, 2023 at 7:17 AM

    Thank you for highlighting the importance of fine motor and handwriting development in preschool. These foundational skills play a crucial role in a child’s overall development and academic success. It’s wonderful to see articles like this that provide valuable insights and strategies for fostering these skills in young learners. Keep up the great work!

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