Hand-eye coordination, hand strength and visual motor integration are important parts of the learning process for young children. Hand-eye coordination and visual motor integration allow your child to track the movements of their hands with their eyes. Once they enter school, it impacts handwriting as they use their eyes to guide, direct and control their hand movements across the page. These skills are also essential components for reading and decoding.
Your child needs a lot of opportunities to develop these skills in order to be ready to enter school. Play is a natural and fun way to encourage these activities. At HoneyTree, one of our favorite activities to develop these skills is playing with playdough.
Playdough is a great opportunity to develop the fine motor skills, eye hand coordination and bilateral coordination skills that are so important. It is also a great activity for them to use their imagination and allow their creativity to shine.
- Encourage your child to squeeze, pound, pull, roll and squish playdough into a variety of shapes including snakes, caterpillars, a bird's nest, your child's favorite animal or food, roads for their favorite cars or anything else they want to create. They are only limited by their imagination!
- Provide your child with plastic playdough scissors and knives to encourage them to practice their cutting skills in a safe environment.
- To add an extra sensory element, experiment with different types of homemade playdough with different textures, add glitter or other items of interest or add a drop of an essential oil that is safe for children in a scent your child enjoys.
- To add an extra challenge and element of fun, set a 1 minute timer to see who can make the best pizza or penguin in under a minute.
Cutting with scissors gives your child the opportunity to use both hands while tracking with their eyes. It is a great activity for increasing visual motor and perceptual skills. Scissors come in a variety of sizes, so search for a pair that fits your child's hand. For an inexperienced cutter, select scissors with a blunt point. Left-handed children should always use left-handed scissors. Once you find the right pair, try snipping playdough or cut scrap paper or old magazines for a collage that is educational, creative and fun.
Looking for other easy ways to help your child get ready for Kindergarten? Try lacing! Cut colored straws into sections or use different shapes of pasta for lacing with yarn or string for a great fine motor activity. Use items like beads with larger holes for very young children and smaller holes to increase the difficulty level for older children. Just be sure that the item is large enough to not be a choking hazard for any children under the age of 3. Place items in a small bag to take on the go to appointments or restaurants to keep little hands busy.