Focused Fine Motor Activities to Help Young Children Reset

Fine motor activities are critical for young children.  The workout for those little fingers gives them the strength and control to write, button, and otherwise use their hands as the marvelous tools that they are.  But there’s another perk to fine motor activities.

I’ve noticed that fine motor activities can also be a great redirection, bringing focus to a child who may be feeling overwhelmed, excited, nervous, or just a bit wild.  Bringing the child’s focus in to a smaller scale and giving them fine motor tasks that require concentration, often has a soothing effect.

At our house, we followed a prompt from Pinterest, spreading soda on the bottom of a baking sheet and flanking that with jars of colored vinegar.  Soon, boys who, moments before were climbing over couches, racing around the kitchen island, and otherwise taking turns pestering and overreacting, were each taking a dropper, carefully filling it, emptying it, and reveling in the ensuing reaction.  They stayed at it for quite a while, watching drops slowly fall and bubbles erupt.  It was like hitting a reset button in our day, calling their hands, eyes, and minds to a task that allowed us all to slow down and focus.

Are you looking for more fine motor activities to invite the children you love and teach to reset?  Check out these great resources:

Pom Poms and PVC pipes.  Why didn’t I think of that?  Get all the details at Cute and Peculiar.

Simple supplies.  Awesome results.  Read about Rachelle’s colander sculpture at Tinker Lab.

Karen has a treasure trove of fine motor activities at PreKinders.  Be inspired by her collection here.

Jamie at Hands On As We Grow has gathered 30 of the best fine motor activities from around the blogosphere for her round up here.  You’re sure to find your next fine motor activity there!

Have you used focused fine motor activities to help your kids reset?  What’s your go-to fine motor activity?



Filed under Learning through Play and Experience, Positive Guidance and Social Skills, Uncategorized

13 Responses to Focused Fine Motor Activities to Help Young Children Reset

  1. My daughter loves the colored vinegar and baking soda game. I pull it out on grumpy days and it is just like a reset button.

    • notjustcute

      We’ve done volcanoes for a long time, but this was our first go at the tray full of soda. I’m sure it’s become a new favorite!

  2. Hi Amanda, You make a good point about focusing energy on fine motor activities in order to reset. We do this all the time by cozying up with a book, drawing in a sketchbook, or trying a new experiment. We all need to make shifts in our attention periodically to get centered. Lovely post.

  3. Susie

    The 3 yr olds in our class love perler beads but they are often too small for them to manipulate at the beginning of the year. Fortunately, the folks who make perler beads now make BIGGIE beads which come with their own specially sized bead board. Perfect for 3 yr old fingers!

  4. Thank you for the featuring my PVC pipe post with all these other wonderful ideas. I can’t wait to try a few of them. Thanks again.

  5. What a lovely post. I agree about this kind of play being vital in helping to press the “reset” button. A few weeks ago my son (3.5y) was in a real funk and his behaviour was getting worse and worse. So I sat him down at the table with his big sister and gave them a handful of dried spaghetti to snap. Sounds weird, but it totally “snapped” him out of his funk. I then introduced some dried lasagne sheets and told him that he had to snap them into really small pieces, the smallest he could manage. Then he was a man on a mission! After a bit I gave them a big piece of paper and some PVA glue and they stuck the pasta pieces down to make a picture together with a few other pasta shapes. I’m definitely going to try some of the ideas above – I think it makes sense to have a few of these up your sleeve for days like that! :)

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  7. Maybe us not so much toddlers need this, too –I love these!

  8. Love this! I think that this may be help for children of all ages, including us parents! A link will be in the August 28th issue of Parenting News, our weekly newsletter for parents and educators all over the country. I hope it brings you many readers!

    Thanks –
    Maggie Macaulay, MS Ed

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  10. Great ideas! My little guy loves crafty time and it is a nice way to refocus our energies. I recently saw the idea to sort pom pom balls into a cupcake pan using tongs and he loved it! I’m excited to try the soda/colored vinegar idea, though we don’t have many droppers at our house. hmmm…need to do some problem solving there. I also love Lady Muck’s pasta snapping then pasta art idea. So much to do… :)

  11. Pingback: Reset your day (plus a link party!)

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