All children develop their fine motor skills at different rates and this isn't something you need to 'teach' a younger toddler....but providing fun opportunities for them to practice their emerging skills is a valuable gift. These activities don't need to be time consuming or difficult to prepare and clean up. Simple is best for this age i have found...remember their attention spans are still quite short so a few easy activities are much more rewarding to both parent and toddler than any fancy ones you might spend ages preparing!!
I like to try and use common materials found around the home and yard or brought cheaply from the budget shops. What i am trying to do with these activities is encourage the toddler twosome's hand-eye coordination, spatial awareness (understanding size and how things fit into and out of other things and spaces) and palm and finger grasps (how a child holds the brush,pen, crayon etc and controls its movements) By providing opportunities to enhance the development of these skills it will also help the toddler twosome begin to manipulate the tricky parts of their clothing and shoes, play meaningfully with smaller items such as teasets with lids and cutlery, small figurines and blocks and generally interact with the 'smaller' items in their world...all while having fun through play!
There are many variations on fine motor activities such as threading, cutting, pasting and painting for the older toddler....but often the younger (18mths- 2yrs)toddler is overlooked so i thought i would make a list of the toddler twosome's favourite fine motor activities so far. If looking for some inspiration for your own toddler...just remember that all children develop at different paces and therefore you may need to modify some of the activities for your child's skill level.
If an activity is not a great success the first time around...try it again in a few weeks and they may surprise you!! Above all....just have some fun just exploring your regular everyday play....if they are using their hand, finger and wrist muscles (no matter what the activity)...they are developing their fine motor skills...EASY!
1. Nature Fun Playdough ...playdough provides many fine motor opportunities and this playdough activity outside with twigs and beans was a lot of fun...and so easy...all while outdoors in the winter sunshine!
2. Easy Toddler Threading.....this was a variation on more difficult threading activities and both girls modified the activity to suit their interest and developmental level....threading items with larger holes allows for independance and achievment rather than the frustration of trying to thread smaller items.
Threading onto ribbon required some different skills and was a little more challenging due to the angle and having to both thread and pull through.
3. Cotton Bud Painting is a fantastic fine motor activity and so easy to set out...kept the toddler twosome busy for a long time with lots of pincer grip practise!
4. Drawing with Chalk....whether inside on a small board or outside on a larger board those hand and wrist muscles are getting a workout! By having the board on a wall or on a table or floor you also vary the angle of the drawing and therefore the muscles used.
5. Painting with Shaving Brushes is a great way to build a toddler's confidence with using paintbrushes. They are chubby and short and therefore fit neatly and easily into little toddler hands!
6. Block Play offers many opportunities to explore and enhance fine motor skills just by varying the block sizes and introducing different materials to pick up and add to the play.
7. Spice Jar Posting...this remains Ruby's absolute favourite and is such a great posting and spatial awareness activity. I love it when i can find ways to recycle jars to!
8.Sponge Painting....another easy favourite....by offering lots of different sized sponges with paint there are many ways to explore with the hands....squeeze,dab, pinch, pat.....
9. Pebble & Basket Fun ....giving toddlers small items to pick up and put in and out of baskets is always going to be a winner and is a favourite in this household!!
10. Vegetable Seed Planting.....getting out into the garden provides many opportunities for toddlers to explore and use their hand muscles....poking, digging, picking, pouring........
11. Sticky Paper Collage...I'm sure you have seen this one before.....i love this activity because it takes just minutes to set up and they come back to it over and over throughout the day...with little mess involved! Vary the size of the pieces to collage and you add to the fun!
12. Squeeze Bottle Painting...this is one for outside or forget the paint dye and just use water! Little hands love to squeeze and tip and twist and try to turn lids!
13. Pom Poms, Pasta & Jar Fun...another wonderful in and out activity...this one keeps the twins busy for quite awhile and we play variations of this activity regularly.
14. Spaghetti Stick Threading...another easier version of threading. Tara loves to see how many spaghetti sticks she can get into her playdough when playing with this one!
15. No mess chalkboard painting....combines the chalkboard and shaving brushes....and no mess! Great rainy day activity.
This list could no doubt go on and on but I hope that perhaps you have found a little inspiration or a new idea to try for some easy fine motor activities to explore with your younger toddler...have fun playing!