Here is another fun Christmas Fine Motor Activity I have done with my kiddos in therapy this month that you can use with children who are of preschool and early elementary age.
What you’ll need: Piece of blue paper (or other non-white paper color), piece of white paper, glue, cotton balls, Q-tips, white paint (such as finger paint or tempera paint)
How you make it: Start with the 3 circles for the snowman’s body. Help your child cut out each circle and help him understand the difference between their sizes of small, medium, and large. Then have him glue the circles on the paper, emphasizing that one circle goes at the TOP, one goes in the MIDDLE, and one goes at the BOTTOM. (Top/middle/bottom are super important concepts for preschool and Kindergarten kids to understand because it helps them when learning to write letters as they start at the TOP and then make lines and curves that must come to the MIDDLE or BOTTOM.)
Once the circles are glued in place, move on to the cotton balls. Show your child how to pinch the edges of the cotton balls with his “pincher fingers” (thumb and pointer fingers) and gently pull on the cotton ball to make it grow. After each pull on the cotton ball, show him how to slightly turn it and then gently pull on it again to make it grow even more. Do this all the way around the cotton ball until it has grown into a larger, relatively flat circle (rather than a puffy ball). Emphasize that he should pull not “too hard” and not “too soft”, but “just right”. This may be very difficult for kids who are impulsive or who struggle with using the “just right” amount of strength during play, but it’s great practice! If your child accidentally pulls the cotton ball apart, don’t get mad at him and don’t scold him. This is practice! Simply say something like, “Oops,” and then offer another cotton ball to try again. Offer encouragement and hand-over-hand support if needed to help him succeed. Once the flattened cotton ball is large enough to cover the snowman’s head, help your child glue it onto the top circle. Continue this process (using more cotton balls as needed to fill the medium middle and large bottom circles) until they are all covered with puffy “snow”!
After the snowman is done, finish off the picture by showing your child how to pinch the Q-tip with those pincher fingers again (holding the Q-tip like you would hold a pencil), dip it in the white paint, and then dab it all around the paper to make snow in the sky. They can make as many or as few snowflakes as they want. Let the project dry and help them display it proudly on the fridge or a designated “Look What I Made!” wall space around the house.
How it helps fine motor skills: Pinching and pulling the cotton balls apart with two hands helps children practice their pincer grasp while also giving them a chance to practice coordinating their two hands together (known as bilateral coordination). It also helps them understand what it means to use the “just right” amount of pressure during a fine motor activity, which can be hard for kids who have difficulties with impulsivity or processing proprioceptive input. Squeezing the glue onto the paper helps strengthen their little hands while also providing practice for bilateral coordination. And dipping and dabbing with the Q-tips provides the opportunity to use the thumb, pointer, and middle finger to pinch and stabilize in order to practice the skills needed for holding a crayon or pencil!
You can make this activity easier by: Having the 3 circles pre-cut for your child; drawing circles on the paper rather than gluing circles on the paper; pulling the cotton balls all the way apart instead of having them pull a little bit to make them grow; having your child simply glue the cotton balls on the circles rather than pulling on them to make them grow; having a pre-made model in view so he knows what it may look like when it’s finished.
You can make this activity more challenging by: Having your child trace the 3 circle shapes either with stencils or around the outside of round objects such as cups, a roll of masking tape, or a round paint cap; having your child tear and roll up small pieces of tape to make the snowman circles stick to the paper rather than gluing them on (I like to tell kids to roll the tape with their fingers to make a “sticky burrito”); placing the cotton balls, glue, and paint on the side opposite your child’s “favorite hand” in order to encourage him to reach across the middle of his body (known as “crossing the midline” which is helpful for brain and hand skill development) to get the materials; giving him the supplies, telling him the steps or writing them down for him to reference, and then encouraging him to make the snowman all by himself (though you can certainly help if he needs it!).
What age it’s good for: Toddlers through elementary age, depending on how you modify.
Check out this list for more Christmas Fine Motor Activities for Kids:
Torn Paper Christmas Tree
Christmas Tree Sponge Painting
Santa Fine Motor Craft
Reindeer Fine Motor Craft
Christmas Activities for Kids board on Pinterest