Water play is a wonderful way for children across a wide range of ages to develop strong fine motor skills. Fine motor activities encourage skill development and help children and disabled adults develop abilities such as pinching, grasping, hand-eye coordination and finger isolation. Most school programs offer fine motor skills development, but there are also a wealth of simple steps parents and caregivers can take at home to help enhance these skills. Here are five fun, developmentally appropriate ideas to encourage these skills using basic household supplies and water.
One way to integrate fine motor work into water play is by adding tools like a baster. Kids love to watch the water flow up then squeeze it out. >> Read about the Montessori Basting lesson.
What is it about sponges? Dry. Hard. Wet. Soft. Kids love to squeeze and transfer water with sponges. My kids also love to paint with sponges. >> Read about the Montessori Sponging lesson.
Pouring Water Transfer
Transferring H2O from one container to another helps learners develop hand-eye coordination and overall motor control. All you need for this activities are bottles or jugs of different sizes. Fill one of the jugs with H2O, and then show your little one how to pour its contents into another container. Kids can keep pouring liquid from one container to another until they're bored.
For this activity, you'll need a shallow baking dish filled with everyday items such as dry sponges, pieces of paper, scraps of cloth and waterproof toys. You'll also need a plastic cup with about a dozen small holes poked in the bottom. Have your child hold the cup over the tray, then pour H2O in and watch as the rain begins to fall. Encourage your child to move the rain over all the objects. Once the cup is empty, have your little one touch the various objects and describe how they feel when wet.
Picking Up All the Caps
Gather assorted caps from drink containers, several popsicle sticks and a wash basin for this fun activity. First, fill the basin with H2O. Then, place drink caps upside down on the surface of the liquid so that they float. Have your child hold a popsicle stick in each hand, and show them how to pick up individual caps using the sticks. Repeat the activity until all of the caps have been removed from the wash basin.
Outside Painting with H2O
This activity is one of the easiest to pull off when you want to have some impromptu, learning-driven fun outside. All you need is a paintbrush and cup of H2O. Take your little ones outside on a sunny day and let them have fun painting the sidewalk, house and anything else they desire. This activity helps to develop the pincer grip while teaching about evaporation and the water cycle too.
Funky Fishing Fun
For this activity, you'll need a wash basin filled with H2O, a few ping-pong balls, and an aquarium fish net. Simply toss the ping-pong balls into the liquid. Then demonstrate to your child how to scoop them up using the net. This super fun kids' activity can be repeated over and over (kids love repetition!) until your child is tired of scooping! (Erh…bedtime?)
Remember that building fine motor skills doesn't have to be complicated. In addition to these ideas, you'll come across dozens more going about your regular day. Let inspiration be your guide as you teach your little one all about interacting with the world through H2O.