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Designing Activities for Motor Skills Development

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The building blocks that are needed for the successful development of fine motor skills are measurable and defined as the following.

  • Bilateral Integration: the ability to use both hands when performing a task e. g. depositing coins with left hand while right hand stabilizes the box.
  • Crossing Mid-line: When the left or right side of the body can cross the imaginary divide to the opposite side.
  • Hand and finger strength: Using hand and finger muscles with controlled force against a resistance.
  • Hand eye coordination: Being able to judge spatially when guiding hands to perform an action like writing or stacking blocks on top of each other.
  • Hand Dominance: Determining which the dominant hand through which specialized functions is will be developed.
  • Hand division: the ability to pinch with certain fingers whilst the rest of the fingers are providing stability for the rest by being tucked into the palm.
  • Object Manipulation: The controlled movement of pencils scissors and other tools like brushes and cutlery.
  • Body Awareness: The awareness of our muscles and joints needed for controlled movement.

It is important to know that mastery of fine motor skills will allow children to perform the activities that is needed for daily life like taking care of themselves, dressing up, using cutlery, opening boxes, eating, brushing teeth and opening doors and such. It also covers the ability to write and colour as well as to cut and paste. The ability to perform these tasks has a direct effect on self-esteem and has a major psychological impact on the child. The fine motor patterns within which students are able to perform tasks are categorized into 3 main motor skills called release, grasp and rotate and the apt description from the OT toolbox clarify these concepts perfectly.

“Precision release is needed for stacking blocks without toppling them over, placing cards on a pile, opening scissors just a small amount, or placing small beads into a bowl. Precision is needed for a child to let go of an item in a controlled manner. If they are not exercising precision in release, you might see them rolling or tossing an object as they let go. They will knock over a stack of blocks, or over open the scissors when cutting lines, making their accuracy very choppy”.

Precision in grasp is about picking up and squeezing scissors halfway shut by using a graded lateral grasp. A child of about three or four normally can begin precision grasping. This skill can be developed by having kids pick up and sort very small beads with accuracy. Precision in rotation is an activity that is developed in 5 year old students when they learn to roll a coin on its edge or rotate a pencil in a circular motion to draw a ball or a curved shape. It is therefore crucial that within a school environment, supporting activities be implemented to help students avoid difficulties such as task avoidance, frustration and refusal to participate in certain tasks which will directly impact their academic performance and self-esteem. A fine motor skills program will support the development of each of the stages against which students can be evaluated and can also increase the fun factor in the classroom. Because it is not possible to know at this early age what the learning style and intelligence the different students might have, it is prudent to develop activities that will cover all possible options when aiming for maximum efficiency.

In designing activities through which fine motor skills can be utilized in a classroom, the most important fact to consider might be effectiveness vs. cost. Some teachers do not yet realize the importance of time and effort spent on the fine motor skills development of their young charges and without fail, they utilize the materials for Motor skills development that they are provided with, for arts and craft production of items or for classroom displays which would eventually lead to the depletion of said materials. This problem could be part of the general lack of resources that prevail in these schools and the fact that teachers, regardless of salary, are expected to supply their own resources. With the implementation of a set curriculum which is supported with specific supplies for specific developmental goals the issue will be addressed effectively. In supplying a school with a set of materials that can be used for multiple objectives the possibility of fine motor skills development can be addressed effectively if these resources are supported by a list of activities to be performed over a set period of time. There is a plethora of fine motor skills activities which will improve manual dexterity, most of which can be practiced with a basic set of supplies, used with an individual paper plate in front of each child as focus point. In an outcomes based lesson, which will start from the opening of the container, the understanding of instructions, performing of the task, the reaching of the goal and the eventual clearing up and putting away of all materials the list of items and activities to be implemented in this curriculum will cover some of the following.

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Designing Activities For Motor Skills Development. (2020, March 16). GradesFixer. Retrieved January 29, 2022, from
“Designing Activities For Motor Skills Development.” GradesFixer, 16 Mar. 2020,
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Designing Activities For Motor Skills Development [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2020 Mar 16 [cited 2022 Jan 29]. Available from:
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