Now that it’s November, turkey-themed fine motor activities have taken over at work and home!
Here are four turkey-themed fine motor activities we’ve been having fun with lately.
1. Feed the Turkey
This was inspired by a post from Lovely Commotion and I love it because it is simple, cute, and uses stuff you probably already have around your house! All you have to do is find an empty plastic container from your recycling, make sure it’s cleaned and dried out, and then cut out a brown circle the same size as the lid. Cut a small circle for the turkey’s mouth in the paper and then make the rest of the face. Then lay the paper on top of the lid, poke a hole in the lid in the same location, and carefully cut out a similarly-sized hole so the two holes line up. Cut out paper feathers, glue the feathers and brown circle onto the lid, find some tube-shaped noddles or other small items to place in the turkey’s mouth, and you’re ready to go! For a quick tutorial on how to make colored dry pasta that your child can feed to the turkey (as shown in the photo above), check out these directions from Happy Hooligans.
***Whatever small items you choose to use, please make sure they do not pose a choking hazard to the child and are appropriate for their age.
Fine motor/visual motor skills addressed: Pincer grasp, bilateral coordination, hand-eye coordination, in-hand manipulation (what’s that?)
Good for ages (approximately): 1-4 years
Make it harder: Use tongs, place “turkey” on one side of child and the noodles on other side of child to promote crossing midline (what’s that?), have child rotate and orient noodle using only one hand (“complex rotation”) instead of using additional hand to get it in proper position, incorporate movement/gross motor challenges (such as safely incorporating an exercise ball, scooter board, or platform swing)
Make it easier: Make “mouth” larger, use round objects (such as marbles, pom poms, or small balls of play dough) instead of oblong ones
2. Play Dough Toothpick Turkey
I attempted to make purple play dough several months by adding red and blue food coloring to my usual play dough recipe but it just turned out…well…brown. Lucky for me, though, it was just the color I needed to be able to do play dough toothpick turkeys with kids in therapy! All you need is some play dough, colorful toothpicks (I picked up a pack of 250 for about $2 from the grocery store baking aisle a while ago), and some way to make a face (googly eyes and orange foam worked for me). I have found that, even though preschoolers usually have no problem being enticed by pushing toothpicks into play dough, the addition of the googly eyes and colorful toothpicks have made it all the more exciting for them. This has been a great fine motor “warm-up” activity to do prior to working on specific classroom-based fine motor skills such as coloring and cutting during therapy sessions.
Fine motor/visual motor skills addressed: Pincer grasp, tripod grasp, strengthening fingers and web space (what’s that?), separation of the two sides of the hand (why is that important?), bilateral coordination, hand-eye coordination
Good for ages (approximately): 2-5 years
Make it harder: Challenge child to create play dough ball by rolling it around on table with one hand, place “turkey” on one side of child and toothpicks on other side of child to promote crossing midline, have child copy your toothpick color pattern from the model, incorporate movement/gross motor challenges (such as safely incorporating an exercise ball, scooter board, or platform swing)
Make it easier: Provide child with pre-rolled ball of play dough, help child form play dough ball by guiding their hands as they roll, stabilize “turkey” for child so it doesn’t roll around, place turkey at child’s midline, make turkey toothpicks a “station” in an obstacle course so child only has to complete one or a few toothpicks at a time before continuing around the obstacle course until all toothpicks are completed
3. Clothespin Toilet Paper Roll Turkey
This turkey-themed fine motor activity inspired by Formula: Mom has provided such a great way for my kiddos to work on a variety of fine motor skills while also creating an end-product to be able to take home and practice when they are not in therapy! If you have the time and supplies, you could have children paint the TP roll and clothespins. However, we have just been focusing on learning to operate the clothespins by using those “pincher fingers” (as we call them in our sessions) as well as grasping the markers correctly in order to color the “feathers” (clothespins).
One thing I have come to love about using markers to color the clothespins is that, unlike with coloring on paper, the children find themselves coloring within a confined space (i.e., only the skinny boundaries of the surface of the clothespin) in a repetitive back-and-forth motion. This has been so great for the kiddos who typically are disorganized in their approach to coloring (scribbling everywhere) or who tend to only sustain their grasp or coloring efforts for a few seconds at a time. When coloring the clothespins, it is easier for them to tell how much coloring they need to do, and the repetitive motion helps them develop a rhythm while coloring (rather than erratically scribbling all over a picture). My students who typically only color for a few seconds at a time are now coloring for up to 20 seconds or more with this activity. I typically like to count or sing songs with them while they color so they can maintain that sense of rhythm and then, when the song is over, that means they are done and can flip the clothespin over to start coloring the other side! Like I said, great for extending the amount of time they are able to sustain their grasp on the marker or their overall attention to task.
Fine motor/visual motor skills addressed: Pincer grasp, strengthening fingers/hands/web space, bilateral coordination, hand-eye coordination, grading (adjusting) force used when holding TP tube and squeezing clothespins
Good for ages (approximately): 3-6 years
Make it harder: Incorporate movement/gross motor challenge (scooter board on tummy around room to gather clothespins, sit on exercise ball while coloring at table)
Make it easier: Stabilize clothespin for child while they color, help child color clothespins by turning clothespin vertically-oriented and then guiding their hand to color in up-and-down strokes, have the face already put together before child starts, hold TP “turkey” for child so they can focus just on getting the clothespins on the roll, place your fingers on the edges of the clothespins and have child “help” you squeeze them open by placing their fingers on top of yours, make turkey clothespins a “station” in an obstacle course so child only has to complete one clothespin at a time before continuing around the obstacle course a total of five times (one time per clothespin)
4. Button the Feathers on the Turkey
I am a big fan of using button snakes and other creative pre-buttoning activities to help kids develop their fine motor and self-dressing skills. So this button turkey, inspired by Gaining Mommymentum, is now the newest (and cutest!) addition to my collection of pre-buttoning activities for kids. All you need is some felt, buttons, googly eyes (or just make eyes out of felt), and some way of securing the buttons to the felt. Personally, I try to avoid sewing whenever possible, so I used a hot glue gun to glue the buttons in place. Just keep in mind it’s easier for the buttons to get pulled off by an energetic kiddo if you glue them vs. sew them. Just so you can get an idea of actual size, the brown turkey body (circle) in the photo above is 6 inches across (diameter) and the feathers are each approximately 2 inches wide by 4 inches tall (with a 1-inch button slit cut vertically in the fat part of each feather). Felt can typically be found at craft stores (or in the craft aisle of big stores like Wal-Mart) for around 25-30¢ per sheet. The buttons I used came from Amazon and have been a great resource for a variety of fine motor activities in therapy and at home. You can find these particular buttons through this affiliate link (full disclosure here).
Fine motor/visual motor skills addressed: Pincer grasp, bilateral coordination, hand-eye coordination, buttoning/self-help skills
Good for ages (approximately): 3-6 years
Make it harder: Place “turkey” on one side of child and “feathers” on other side of child to promote crossing midline, incorporate movement/gross motor challenge (scooter board on tummy around room to gather feathers, sit on exercise ball while buttoning, lay on tummy while buttoning)
Make it easier: Use larger buttons (such as the ones I love found at this affiliate link), “backward chain” by completing first step (adult pushing button into slit) and then having child complete last step (child pulling button all the way through the slit to finish it off), make turkey buttoning a “station” in an obstacle course so child only has to complete one button at a time before continuing around the obstacle course a total of five times (one time per feather)
I hope you get to try out some of these turkey-themed fine motor activities before November is over and you have to wait until next fall!
Want more fine motor ideas and resources you can (legally) download to your computer or print for your own use? Check out these helpful e-books from OT Mom, packed with practical, ready-to-use fine motor activity ideas:
OT Mom’s Fine Motor Bundle (Discounted price on Fine Motor Activities plus Scissor Skills Activities plus FREE Bonus Cutting Template)