All children may benefit from exercising their fine motor muscles. Fine motor skills (coordination, grasping, precision) as well as fine motor strength and endurance are strongly associated with handwriting legibility, endurance and speed. Additional skills, such as bilateral coordination, visual-motor integration (eye-hand coordination) and manual dexterity (manipulation speed) contribute to producing legible writing as well. Legible handwriting, of course, is pertinent in order to successfully complete written schoolwork and assignments. The holidays offer a plethora of opportunities to exercise little hands—here are just a few!
Holiday Activities To Improve Handwriting Skills:
- Stringing popcorn—this activity can strengthen your child’s fine pincher grasp abilities and improve bilateral coordination—both of which are vital skills for handwriting. If your child is too young to use a needle, have him or her string holiday colored beads onto a shoelace to add a bit of homemade flair to your tree. This will also provide a finger flexion frenzy for your child.
- Stringing ribbon or hooks onto ornaments—This activity requires a significant amount of visual motor coordination as well as fine motor control. Use ribbon to increase the difficulty—tying the string in a knot requires additional fine motor control, bilateral coordination and visual-motor control. In order to work on manipulation speed, make this into a game and see who can string the fastest!
- Hanging ornaments on the tree—this activity requires your child’s visual and motor systems to cooperate together in order to successfully place an ornament on the desired branch. You may provide verbal directions to your child, such as “hang this ornament on the branch that is below the yellow light and above the green bulb ornament” in order to work on visual perception as well as discrimination skills!
- Replacing light bulbs on light strings—this activity requires fine motor control and strength to grip the light-bulb (various sizes may be appropriate—the smaller the bulb, the more difficult it is to grip!) and twist it into place. It’s also fun to watch the lights pop on when all of the new bulbs are in place!
- Wrapping presents—Wrapping is an activity that requires a lot of fine motor precision (correctly folding the paper and fine motor endurance) holding the paper in place for taping. In addition, wrapping requires bilateral coordination (cutting the paper and working with both hands to hold the paper down and tape). You may increase the difficulty of the activity by having your child tie ribbons on the package and work with two hands to curl the ribbon with scissors or peel the backing off of stick-on bows (which requires a lot of control). The gifts may not look perfect, but with the assistance of your little elves, you’ll have them wrapped in no time at all!
There is a wide selection of activities that you’re already planning on doing for the holidays that can help to fine-tune your child’s individual muscles. Not only are these activities fun, but your child will always remember how she helped you decorate the tree—memories in the making. Happy Decorating!