I have been having fun working on Christmas fine motor activities this month with my kiddos and thought it would be fun to share some of them with you. This post is the first in a series of Christmas fine motor crafts I will be sharing in the next few days, so get ready for some festive fine motor fun!
What you’ll need: Paper, marker, Christmas-colored paint (finger paint or tempera paint works well), one small sponge cube per color used (about 1/2″ x 1/2″ or 1″ x 1″)
How you make it: Draw the outline of a Christmas tree on a blank piece of paper. Have your child pinch the small sponge cube between her thumb and index finger (using the same fingers needed for holding a pencil) and dip the sponge in the green paint. Then she can press the sponge onto the paper over and over to turn the Christmas tree green! Show her how she can re-dip the sponge to get more paint and continue turning the tree green. Once the tree is green, help her wait a few minutes to let it dry a bit. She can help you get the new colors and sponges for the ornaments ready while she waits. Once the green has dried a bit, she can pinch, dip, and paint with the sponge cube using red, purple, blue…whatever colors she wants to use to decorated her sponge-painted Christmas tree!
How it helps fine motor skills: When your child pinches the small sponge cube with her thumb and index finger, with it slightly resting on the middle finger, she is using the most important fingers needed for writing. We call these the “tripod” fingers. The tripod grasp is one of the most efficient pencil grasps used for writing, and it is important to give children lots of practice with this grasp pattern before they ever even pick up a pencil! Using small tools such as sponge cubes is just one of several ways to teach a good pencil grip.
You can make this activity easier by: Taking turns with your child to decrease the amount of repetitions needed to complete the activity; using a half sheet of paper to make a smaller tree instead of using a whole sheet of paper; having a pre-made model ready so your child can see what the finished product will look like; making a sponge-painted tree right alongside your child as she makes it so you both can do it together step by step.
You can make this activity more challenging by: Having your child trace the outline of the tree before sponge painting; placing the paint on the side opposite the hand she is painting with (if using her right hand, then place the paint on her left side) so she must cross over to the other side of her body (known as “crossing the midline”) in order to dip in the paint; having a pre-made model in view; giving her the supplies, telling her the steps or writing them down for her to reference, and then encouraging her to make the sponge-painted tree all by herself (though you can certainly help if she needs it!).
What age it’s good for: Toddlers through early elementary age, depending on how you modify it.
Try it out. Let me know what you think. Stay tuned for the rest of the Christmas fine motor activities I will be sharing soon!