Fine Motor Skills are an essential life skill that all early years and primary school teachers should attempt to use in their classroom. I believe that they can be actively incorporated in a fun and easy way using drama games.
What are fine motor skills and why should we teach them?
Fine motor skills utilise the smaller muscles in fingers, hand and wrists. How many times a day do you have students come up to you in the playground asking for help tying up shoelaces or opening a bag of crisps? These are usually indicators of poor fine motor skills. Therefore, the development of these muscles is important in supporting students to perform these tasks themselves.
Not only are these life skills, but the development of these skills also leads to improvement in academic efficiency. For example, if students have confident handwriting ability then they are able to produce more work, therefore engaging more in the curriculum.
So how can you actively support your students development of fine motor skills?
Like any muscle, consistency and practice are essential to strengthening them! One strategy is to make your students sit and write lines over and over…but how boring is that?! I believe fine motor skills can be a more engaging practice in your classroom. So here are some fun ways to incorporate fine motor skills into your classroom programme.
1. Sing ‘Fingerplay’ Songs!
These songs use hand actions to improve a variety of fine motor skills such as finger dexterity and body awareness. Even making time to sing one song a day with your class will gradually improve these skills.
Here are a couple examples below;
2. Word at a Time Story with a Tennis Ball
- Have your class stand in a circle (depending on your class size, you may want an ‘audience’ and a smaller group of students in the circle).
- Give the students a title e.g. ‘Grandma goes to the supermarket.’
- The students then create the story by only saying one word at a time.
- However, rather than going around in a circle, the students must throw the tennis ball to each other.
- Once a student catches the tennis ball, they must contribute a word to the story, they then throw the tennis ball to another person.
- Continue the story until it reaches a natural end (should last 1-2 minutes).
- This game also practises attention, turn-taking and listening.
Top Tip: To create characters while developing fine motor skills, you could try using this technique while playing The Interview.
3. Crafting Props for Plays
There are many pros and cons to using props in school performances. If you are using props, rather than sourcing them, consider making them as a class. Through creating props you can engage students fine motor skills through colouring in, cutting up paper, using a glue stick or any other craft activities. For younger students, you may even use templates for children to practice cutting around lines.
4. Making Puppets
Specifically creating puppets is a great way to engage students in both performance and fine motor skills. I always recommend using puppets for a song that your class likes, devising specific hand actions that complement the movement of the puppets.
5. Creating Claymation
Use play dough to create figurines for a Claymation film. I recommend doing this as a step by step demonstration as a whole class so you ask students to manipulate the play dough in certain ways. For example, ask children to roll the balls with the tripod fingers, this is good way of isolating specific muscles.
This can be very difficult for some children, so ensure that you support them in being patient whilst doing this.
I would then use the figures to make a short Claymation film using a programme like Stop Motion Studio. Depending on your class size and resources, you may want to do this in your own time and present it back to the class!