This weeks’ blog came about because of a discussion between 2 parents in our classes today. Their eldest children have just started school and they were talking about some of the ways the school were suggesting to help the children get started with writing. The exercises they were talking about are basically stuff we do at our Active and Arty Adventure classes for toddlers every week. My classes are first and foremost designed to be fun, but I am fully aware of the many educational benefits that the activities we do provide. So I thought I would share some of the most popular activities we do at classes that can be very beneficial for helping to develop the muscles and technique needed for fluent writing.
The skills needed for good writing are Fine Motor Skills and Gross Motor Skills.
Fine Motor Skills
These are the small movements, such as picking up small objects, that use the small muscles of the fingers and hands. They are important for developing control and the pincer grip that helps little ones hold and control a pen/pencil.
Gross Motor Skills
These are the bigger movements, such as circling arms and crawling, that use the large muscles in the arms and shoulders. These help children to develop the flow and curve needed for fluent writing.
Taking this weeks classes as an example we include so many exercises that help develop fine and gross motor skills. This week in Active Adventures the children used hoops which helped their gross motor skills through rolling them and fine motor skills by using a fine finger and wrist movement to spin them. We tried this particular activity a few months back and many of the children couldn’t do it but now they were all spinning them successfully, which shows great development. We also used scarves to go on a magic carpet ride. The children had to use their pincer grip to hold them and also to unfold them out into a square. Their gross motor skills were helped by circling the scarves, waving them high above their heads and up and down, using the full range of their shoulder movements.
The children also pretended to bake cakes and used a stirring action, again great for shoulder muscles development and we had plenty of bubbles to pop when we pretending it was bathtime, which again helps those motor skills as well as hand eye co-ordination. We also use parachute games regularly which help gross motor skills (shaking and lifting), but also develop the pincer grip as the children hold the parachute.
In our Arty Adventure classes there were lots of opportunities to develop fine motor skills. We had lots of sticking activities which required the children to peel the backs off stickers, great for that pincer grip. We also regularly include bead threading activities and using clay or playdoh which helps fine motor skills by squishing and stretching it. We also have plenty of art activities that help develop gross motor skills. We have painted with fly swats, by rolling balls and cars through paint, rolling marbles around in paint on a tray – all of which develop control but by using big movements to do this.
All of these activities can of course be done at home but sometimes it is more fun to do it with others and also easier for the grown-ups as someone else has prepared the activities leaving you free to join in and have fun too.
If you would like to come along to our sessions to see how fun and educational they are contact us below to arrange this and do have a look at our class pages.