After the last two years of distance learning, our youngest learners have become quite proficient with technology and online learning, but they have also haven’t had as much time to hone in on a very important skill…hands-on learning. Now more than ever, our kiddos need all the help with strengthening their fine-motor muscles. Hands-on learning is crucial to their academic AND motor development.
Fine motor skills are incredibly important for our students and need to be a part of their everyday learning. These skills can be incorporated into daily centers, arts & crafts, and throughout the day in the classroom or at home. Crafts offer so many learning opportunities and are one of my favorite activities in the classroom. With these fine motor crafts, your students will have the opportunity to practice their fine motor skills, listening skills, following step-by-step directions, and tapping into their creativity all year long!
What Are Fine Motor Skills?
Fine motor skills can be defined as any movement a child makes with purpose using the small muscles in the wrists and hands. It is essential for students to have many opportunities to develop these muscles in the early years because it is these muscles that are used for many essential life skills. Because fine motor skills help build the connections between the small muscles and the brain, children need these skills to develop daily life and school tasks like:
- Buttoning a button on a shirt
- Tying Shoes
- Holding a toothbrush and brushing teeth
- Controlling a fork and spoon
- Holding a pencil, crayon or small item with the fingers
- Manipulating small items with fingers
- Using scissors to cut purposefully
- Stacking small items with precision
- Drawing and writing
All of these tasks are things that need good fine motor control. We also want our students to feel confident in their learning and provide them with opportunities for success so you can see the importance of helping students strengthen and develop these tiny muscles.
Ways to Develop Fine Motor Skills
We know the importance of fine motor skills, but more goes into developing these skills than just practicing them. Fine motor skills are muscle-based activities. Just like any muscle we want to strengthen and develop, we must do targeted exercises. Luckily, a gym membership is not needed to develop fine motor skills 😉 Instead, just be intentional about incorporating activities that work to strengthen these hand muscles into your students’ day.
Here is a list of some ideas your students can engage in to strengthen hand muscles and develop fine motor skills:
- using different sized crayons and pencils
- using scissors to make “snips”
- tearing paper
- using plastic tweezers
- opening and closing clothespins
- rolling play dough and modeling clay
- squeezing a dropper and controlling the drops
- stringing beads
As teachers, our goal is to take these activities and make them into fun and engaging lessons in the classroom. Our young students will likely not enjoy 50 reps of opening and closing a clothespin as a morning exercise. Rather, add that clothespin to a center activity and they won’t even realize they are getting those reps in!
The good news about fine motor skills is that with some thought and creativity they can be added into academic activities. For busy teachers that is good news! Any time an activity can help our students work on multiple skills it is a win-win!
Fine Motor Practice With Fun Crafts
One of my absolute favorite ways to help students develop solid fine motor skills is through crafts. Using crafts to help your students practice fine motor skills won’t seem like work at all. Kids love to create, and they also benefit from all the skills fine-motor crafts offer. Not only do they always turn out so cute and unique, showcasing each students’ personality, they are also purposeful and a wonderful learning opportunity.
Crafts are a fun to connect fine motor skills with academic skills, holidays, or seasons. And . . . adding crafts to your classroom routine is a sure fire way to engage your students!
Crafting Tips and Tricks
If the thought of adding crafts to your routine seems scary, don’t worry – you are not alone. For many teachers and parents, the thought of letting young children loose with scissors and glue can be downright terrifying. Over the years, I have found some tips and tricks to make crafts successful in the classroom.
1. Procedures and Expectations
The very first thing you need to do before you start a craft activity is to remind students of the procedures and expectations for using the craft supplies. We always talk about scissors, glue, markers, paint, or any other supply and talk about how we use them. Show students the correct way to use the supply or tool and let students practice. We also talk about what we DON’T do with our supplies to limit those accidents.
When doing crafts, I also like to practice the Hands Up rule. It is just what it sounds like! When I need my students to stop and listen, I simply say “hands up” or ding my classroom bell, and they immediately stop what they are doing and raise their hands. This is a great way to stop the activity quickly in the case of a spill or mess that needs some extra attention. It also works great when students need a reminder on the correct way to use the supplies.
2. Be Organized
It’s really important to have all your supplies out and ready before starting the craft project. You don’t want to find yourself needing to leave the room to grab a supply when students are working with scissors or paint. Get all the templates and supplies ready beforehand, and keep a tub of extra supplies in your classroom in case they’re needed.
As you gather supplies don’t forget to have paper towels or baby wipes available for cleaning hands or messes!
3. Model the Craft
Sometimes we let our students just work with craft supplies and be creative. Other times we have a specific craft activity that we want students to complete. While working on these learning crafts, it is important to model the activity step-by-step and give explicit directions for what your students will be doing.
Depending on the craft, you can walk through the steps prior to your students starting the activity, or you can guide the craft step by step as students are working. What you choose to do will likely depend on the ages and abilities of your students.
I also like to have a completed version of the craft hanging on the front board to show my students and to give them a reference for the completed project. Your students will naturally be creative and add their own individuality to their crafts.
4. Have Fun!
If you are stressed out or worried about doing crafts with young students, your kids will know. They will pick up on that and likely mimic your emotions and stress. If it feels easier to do a craft as a small group, that’s a great option too! Incorporate the craft into a center rotation so you can help a smaller group of students at one time. Follow the steps above and you have already set a solid foundation for your craft activity. And remember, you can always use the Hands Up Rule to stop the action if things are feeling out of control!
My Favorite Fine Motor Craft Activities
Over the years I’ve put together many craft activities for my classroom. These activities are a fun way to not only practice academic skills but also to help students develop those important fine motor skills.
Each craft activity includes all the templates and instructions you need to easily create them in your classroom. I even give you tips on what color of paper to copy the templates on for an easy and smooth craft activity. I have given you all of the tools to feel confident and prepared for crafting with your students!
Here’s a look at a few of the craft activities I love to use in my classroom:
Fine Motor Craft Ideas for the Entire Year
I intentionally incorporate craft activities into our lessons all year long! I want my students to continue working on those fine motor skills and to engage students in academic concepts too. Blending fine motor skills practice with a fun and engaging craft activity is the best way to make sure you are giving your students lots of opportunities to practice these important repetitive skills all year long.
You can find all of my craft activities in the Miss Kindergarten store. If you love these fine motor skills craft ideas as much as I do, be sure to check out my Crafts For The Whole Year Mega Bundle featuring over 40 tried and true fine motor skill craft ideas for you to pick and choose from year after year!
Crafts for the Whole Year Mega Bundle
All crafts include easy-to-use templates, step-by-step picture directions, as well as writing templates to incorporate writing into each lesson.
Save These Fine Motor Craft Ideas
Be sure to pin this page to your favorite Pinterest teaching board to make it easy or you to come back for more fine motor craft ideas and more teaching tips and resources for your primary students.