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Activities to Strengthen Fine Motor Skills & Tactile Perception

by Carissa Lawrence

As children grow, they develop the fine motor skills and tactile perception that allow them to perform tasks, such as holding an eating utensil, buttoning a jacket or gripping a crayon. Tactile perception -- which involves discriminating between different textures, shapes and objects -- plays an important role in fine motor dexterity. Development in both of these areas can be achieved through a variety of engaging activities.

Pom Pom Pick Up

Activities that require students to use tongs, tweezers or similar tools to pick up objects promote development of the hand and finger muscles necessary to complete tasks, such as holding a pencil or using scissors. Making the activity a type of game or competition can keep children engaged and motivated. For example, challenging children to see who can pick up the most small craft pom poms with a clothespin in a given period of time is a fun activity that allows for motor skill development.

Bag Hunt

Tactile discrimination can be developed through an activity that requires students to locate objects only by touch. This activity can be done using common objects, different shapes or letters -- any items that children are familiar with. Bag hunt is done in two ways. The first variation involves placing an object in a bag and having children try to guess what it is without looking. The second way is completed by placing numerous items in a bag and asking children to pick out a specific object.

Strings and Things

Incorporating activities that require children to work with small materials also promotes fine motor development. Kids will enjoy being engaged in projects that allow them to practice skills including weaving, twisting and braiding. Using different yarns, strings and other materials, such as pipe cleaners, adds a tactile element to these activities as well. Stringing beads, noodles or other appropriate materials to make bracelets and necklaces is another activity that is good for fine motor development.

Development on Their Time

A number of child-directed play activities promote fine motor and tactile development as well. Completing puzzles, building with connecting blocks or wooden blocks and using manipulatives, such as lacing cards or peg boards, allow children to gain practice using their hands on a level that feels comfortable to them. Kids can also develop fine motor skills and tactile perception simultaneously through sculpting with play dough or clay. Providing children free-choice play time with materials that encourage fine motor and tactile development is important. Children need opportunities to develop these skills without the element of performance being involved -- in settings where success or failure is irrelevant.

About the Author

Based in Gainesville, Carissa Lawrence is an experienced teacher who has been writing education related articles since 2013. Lawrence holds a master's degree in early childhood education from the University of Florida.

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