Today’s guest post comes from Hillary Smith. Hillary Smith loves technology and hasn’t met a gadget that didn’t catch her attention. After graduating from the Northwestern Medill School of Journalism, Hillary began a career as a freelance writer focusing on the telecommunications industry. She works out every day and spoils her English bulldog, Chauncey.
Children are an amazing wonder. Watching them play outside can be an astounding display of energy, coordination, and agility. How can their bodies run, hop, jump, roll, skip, and gallop with such ease? From the time they enter this world, babies are working on developing countless motor skills. These are necessary for every physical movement or motion we make. Gross motor skills are the bigger movements requiring more energy and motion such as rolling over, crawling, pulling up, and finally walking. Equally as important, fine motor skills are more precise and require controlled movement of the small muscles in the fingers, toes, and wrists. You notice them when your baby grasps your finger or pinches a cheerio, or your toddler holds a crayon to draw a picture. As children progress through the various stages of growth and development, it’s important for them to develop both their fine and gross motor skills to help with balance, mobility, dexterity, and athleticism, as well as the strength and coordination to help them carry out everyday tasks.
Spring is the perfect time to get outside and have some fun with your children while helping develop their motor skills. The best part is they won’t even know it, they’ll just think they’re having fun!
Fine Motor Fun
- Draw with sidewalk chalk. Encourage their creativity by letting them decorate your driveway with colorful pictures or writing.
- Pick up rocks. Go on a nature walk and admire the beauty of nature all around you. Have them pick up different pebbles and rocks along the way to start a collection. If they get enough of them, they can use them like mosaics to make a pattern or create a design.
- Plant a garden. Let them dig the holes for the seeds with their fingers, drop the seeds in, and cover them up. As the garden grows, let them pull weeds and pick the flowers.
- Pop bubbles. Whether you blow them or the kiddos do, they will have fun chasing them and trying to pop them with their fingers.
- Play with sand. Whether in a sandbox or at the beach, pouring sand through their fingers or from one bucket to another is good for their dexterity. Teach them how to make a sand castle.
- Paint the sidewalk. Release their inner Picasso and let them use a paintbrush and child-safe temporary paint to turn the sidewalk into an art gallery.
- Have sponge races. See how quickly they can squeeze the water from one bucket into another.
- Pin clothes on the line. This is great for strengthening the tiny muscles of the fingers and hands. If they think it feels too much like a chore, make a game using the pins instead. See who can pick flowers using spring-loaded clothespins.
- Have hula hooping contests. See who can go the longest or be the most creative with their hooping.
- Play hopscotch. Drawing the frame with sidewalk chalk also works on fine motor skills.
- Make an obstacle course in the backyard. Then see who can finish it the fastest.
- Play ball! Any kind of ball game works on gross motor development. Basketball, football, volleyball, baseball, softball, soccer, and lacrosse are just some examples. If it involves a ball, it is good for motor development.
- Run all kinds of races. Relay races, three-legged races, sack races, or even a one mile fun run are all great choices. Playing tag is always an option, too.
- Teach them to climb a tree. Or find a hill, and show them how to roll down it.
- Help them do the monkey bars until they are strong enough to do it themselves.
- Play frisbee. This can be the classic hard plastic frisbee or the soft oversized ones with a hole in the middle. They can catch the latter ones with their hands, arms, or whole bodies for even more gross motor fun.
- Go for a bike ride together.
Be creative and create your own games or choose some of the activities listed above. Regardless of what you choose, just get outside with your children and get them moving. If they are in motion, they are using and developing their motor skills. The extra benefit is spending quality time together, having fun, and nurturing your family bond.