June 14, 2011

50 Fine Motor Skills Activities for Older Children

Fine motor skills are crucial for everyone, but focused practice on them usually ends in preschool or kindergarten. Older children often need a little more work, especially to increase the legibility of their handwriting, but just practicing penmanship is boring. How can working on fine motor skills be fun?

Here are some fun activities to improve fine motor skills. Of course everyone has different different likes and dislikes, so to make sure there are at least a few choices to suit everyones interests, I present fifty fine motor skills activities for older children.

Crafts for Fine Motor Skills
Improve eye-hand coordination with crafts

Origami Blue Bird by Jacque Davis
1. Stringing beads

2. Origami

3. Cloth or paper embroidery

4. Crocheting or knitting

5. Fusion beads (tip: use tweezers for even better fine motor skills practice)

6. Paper cutting (the art form, not the preschool activity)

7. Aqua Beads (like fusion beads, but you spray water on the beads to make them stick together instead of an iron)

8. Basket weaving

9. Sewing

10. Pottery

Games for Fine Motor Skills
Add some competition

Jenga Tournament by Tom Rolfe
11. Operation

12. Jenga

13. Make 'n' Break (see my review)

14. Yahtzee

15. Foosball

16. Rush Hour

17. Marbles

18. Darts

19. Play dough charades

20. Video games (hate to admit it, but they do improve eye-hand coordination and fine motor skills.)

Puzzles to Help Fine Motor Skills
Engage the brain too
Playing with Brain String Advanced

21. Mazes

22. Jigsaw puzzles

23. Rubik's Cube and other similar puzzles

24. Crossword Puzzles

25. Brain String Advanced (see my review)

25 More Fine Motor Skills Activities for Older Children
Something for everyone

26. Enjoy coloring (not just for kids)

27. Practice a musical instrument

Use Chopsticks for fine motor skills
28. Use chopsticks

29. Tie flies

30. Go fishing

31. Try writing Japanese or Chinese characters (see my ideas for learning Japanese)

32. Learn how to tie cool knots

33. Practice typing/keyboarding

34. Play with Wikki Stix (see my Wikki Stix review)

35. Learn sign language

36. Sculpt with clay

37. Do paper mache

38. Make plastic models

39. Play with gears

40. Braid hair

41. Build with Lego

42. Decorate cakes

Magnetic Sculpture by Tamra Hays
43. Make magnetic sculptures

44. Play paper football

45. Make designer lattes and cappuccinos

46. Play with a tilting ball maze

47. Do a connect-the-dots puzzle

48. Learn calligraphy

49. Make a mosaic

50. Write with a fountain pen

Question: Do you have a favorite fine motor skills activity for older children? Please share in the comments!

June 7, 2011

Summer Reading Programs 2011

Summer reading has been proven to help children retain their vocabulary, maintain their decoding skills, and improve their comprehension. Help your children avoid the summer slump by trying a summer reading challenge. There are several national summer reading programs, some of which offer free books, gift cards, prize packages, and even cash. Each program has its own form to fill out, but you might also want to print out a reading log to keep track of your child's reading. Your local library probably has a summer reading program too.

My kids love to read, but a little extra motivation never hurt, so I compiled this big list of summer reading programs for 2011. Check it out!

Summer Reading on the Beach

June 1, 2011

Wonderful Wordless (or Nearly Wordless) Books

Wordless books (and nearly wordless books) spark conversation, invite close inspection of illustrations, and are less threatening to reluctant emerging readers. Here are some of the most popular wordless books among my students and my own children.

Anno's Counting House

Mitsumasa Anno is a Japanese former math teacher who became an author and illustrator of children's books. He has written several books that lead naturally to understanding of math. Anno's Counting House, out of print, but still easy to find used, illustrates ten children moving from one house to another. One house gradually empties of people and belongings as the other house fills up. Cut-outs in the pages pique children's curiosity as they try to figure out which character will move the the new house next. Children are exposed to the the important concept of the conservation of number, which is crucial to later success when balancing equations in algebra. Interestingly the book can be enjoyed from back to front as well as from front to back I first blogged about Anno way back in 2007.

Good Night, Gorilla

Peggy Rathmann's Good Night, Gorilla is the most requested readaloud at my preschool. Other than "good night," there are only ten words in the entire book. The pictures are simple, yet full of fun surprises for those who look closely. Try to find the flyaway balloon in each photo. How many silhouettes can you see in the neighbor's window? Does the elephant really have a plush Babar? Here are even more fun illustration finds and several Good Night Gorilla activities.

1, 2, 3 To the Zoo

Animals. A train. The zoo. Eric Carle hit on several of kids' favorite things in his first picture book, 1, 2, 3 To the Zoo combines colorful animal pictures with bright clear numbers, and doesn't let words get in the way. Children enjoy finding all of the animals in the fold out page of the zoo at the end of the story. This just may be the book that your child learns to count with. Homeschool Share offers a 1, 2, 3 To the Zoo printable lapbook to go along with the book.


Besides his name, hug was the first word my toddler read, thanks to Hug, the nearly wordless book by Jez Alborough. The story story follows a baby monkey who sees several animal mothers and babies hugging one another and realizes that he has lost his own mom. A kind elephant takes him around the jungle until he finds his mother. All the animals rejoice with him. the word hug appears several times, but the only other words to appear are mommy and Bobo (the baby monkey's name).

Question: Do you have a favorite wordless or nearly wordless book?