Here are a few exercises to help elementary students with the development of fine motor skills and writing control:
Items needed: putty, 10 pennies, index cards, 10 paperclips, pencil, paper, margarine tub
1. Roll putty into a snake. Pull off 10 pieces. Roll each piece into a small ball using thumb and 2 fingers. No cheating by using the table or other hand!
2. Flatten all putty pieces and roll into a large ball. Rotate this ball in your fingertips (like the earth rotating on it’s axis – repeat for 30 seconds each direction).
3. Line up 10 pennies on the desktop. Flip them over quickly from left to right and return back to the left side.
4. Put away the 10 pennies by picking up 3 and storing them in your hand by trapping them with your little finger. A 3 1/2 year old can do this. Then rotate each coin singly out to your pinch and place the penny into the slot of the margarine tub. Repeat until all pennies are stored in the bank. If 3 are easy, try holding 4 at a time.
5. Write 10 letters or numbers along the borders of an index card. We want to challenge our student by having them quickly place a paperclip onto the correct letter or number, in sequence.
6. Make an “OK” sign with your thumb and index finger. Link your fingers with a partner and play 5 tug-of-war games.
7. Play dice games. Cupping the hand is very important to build the arches of the palm.
8. Fingerspell the alphabet, having students practice their name, as a motor planning activity.
9. Hold a pencil in your best writing grip and walk your tripod up and down the length of the pencil.
10. Place 10 dots across a piece of paper. Quickly make a circle around each dot. Check your work for ovals. We want to develop greater distal control to form circles quickly.
* For younger students that are struggling with directionality of letters, use a tracing method where the student goes over your printing with a changeable marker. This is usually motivating. For the older student, try using a yellow or blue highlighter and let the student trace with this pencil.
** For difficulty learning spacing, give a visual cue by underlining 4 spaces per writing line, with a yellow highlighter. You will give your student a concrete place to put the words. Fade the spaces after one month and reassess.
Written by: Editorial Team, My Learning Springboard, Inc.