Students will use fine motor skills throughout kindergarten as they write, color, count objects, and use scissors. Fine motor skills are also essential for self-care tasks like buttoning, zipping, and tying shoes. These tasks involve many different aspects of hand strength and coordination, so it’s important to add opportunities throughout the school day for students to strengthen their fine motor skills. One of my favorite ways to do this is by using fine motor centers for kindergarten.
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Benefits of Fine Motor Centers for Kindergarten
There are several reasons that centers are such a great way to incorporate fine motor practice during the school day.
- Centers are hands-on and highly engaging. If you told students that they were going to do hand-strengthening exercises, they might not be as excited to participate. Instead, fine motor centers use child-friendly activities that students love!
- Fine motor centers can be individualized. Students enter kindergarten with a wide range of fine motor development and previous exposure to learning tools. By using fine motor centers, you can choose activities that best serve the needs of individual students.
- Since centers are completed in small groups, it is easier to monitor students for progress, behavior, and safety. This is especially important when scissors are involved!
- Fine motor centers are multi-purpose. Since time is of the essence in kindergarten, it’s always ideal when fine motor practice can be incorporated with other academic activities. Fine motor centers can do just that!
The Best Supplies for Fine Motor Centers
Are you interested in reaping the benefits of adding fine motor centers to your classroom? There are a handful of supplies that I suggest keeping on hand. These supplies and tools will help your students improve their coordination, pincer grasp, and hand strength. Find my favorite fine motor tools linked on Amazon here.
The best part about using play dough for fine motor centers is that students won’t even recognize they’re hard at work! Students can use play dough to form letters and numbers. They can also use their fine motor skills to pinch smaller pieces of dough, roll them into balls, and then squash them. This can be used for counting practice or modeling the sounds in a CVC word!
Blocks and Cubes
There are so many things that you can do with blocks and cubes during centers time! Students can create stacks to model a number or map the sounds in a word. They can also use blocks to form numbers and letters. As students practice lining up blocks, snapping them together, and pulling them apart, they will be improving their coordination and hand strength.
Geoboards are fun for free play and exploration of shapes. However, they can also be used for fine motor centers that incorporate numbers or letters! For example, as students pull and stretch rubberbands to create numbers on a geoboard, they are strengthening their pincer grasp as they explore number formation!
Stringing beads can be a fun way to add fine motor practice to the classroom. Since beads are so small, students need to really concentrate on their pincer grasp to pick up the beads and turn them so they will line up with the string or pipe cleaner. I like using pipe cleaners instead of string because it holds the beads in place as the student works on stringing the next one. Pipe cleaners can also be easily attached to number cards for counting practice!
Tweezers and Tongs
Fine motor centers can also help students practice using tools to complete tasks. Tweezers and tongs are a perfect tool for many different fine motor activities in kindergarten. For example, instead of just placing pom poms or manipulatives on a math task card, students can use tweezers or tongs. This practice will help students improve their hand strength and coordination for tasks like handwriting!
Another fun tool for students to use during fine motor centers is a hole punch.
In the eyes of a kindergartner, there is something magical about creating perfectly round holes in paper! Since it’s highly motivating for them to use this tool, students often don’t realize how much hand strength they use for the task. While hole punching strips of paper can be very effective for fine motor practice, you could add some math practice to the task by having students add holes to a ten frame.
Young students who need fine motor practice are often less interested in using markers or other writing utensils. That’s when bingo daubers come in handy! Adding dot markers to fine motor centers can encourage students to practice holding and using a writing utensil.
Just like using a hole punch, students love the novelty of adding clothes pins to cards during fine motor centers!
The added bonus of clip activities is that they can be self-correcting, which is perfect for independent center activities. Just place a sticker on the back of the card that lines up with the correct answer. Once students have added the clothes pin to the card, they can turn it over to see if the clip is on the sticker.
In order to reap all of the benefits of creating crafts in kindergarten, students need to be able to use scissors. As students work to improve their cutting skills, fine motor centers can provide some helpful practice with scissors. Before adding cutting activities to centers, be sure that students can safely handle scissors and review the safety rules often.
Printable Fine Motor Centers for Kindergarten
Would you like to add more fine motor practice to your school day this year? Try fine motor centers! I have created a set of activities that use all of the highly engaging and effective tools mentioned in this post. They come in a fun back-to-school theme that can be used to give your students a fine motor jump start at the beginning of the year as they practice early kindergarten academic skills. You can take a closer look at everything included in these fine motor centers in my shop!
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