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Hammering It Up! This Toddler Game Is a Smash at Building Motor Skills

Photo by lostinbids / iStock
Photo by lostinbids / iStock

By Rachel Ward

Yesterday they were only learning how to stretch their arms; today they’re taking those first tottering steps on their own! Your toddler is making leaps and bounds in all kinds of physical skills, and it’s only a matter of time before they literally start leaping and bounding.

Granted, they’re still a long way from that point—but that’s where you come in (and us, too)!

“Toddlers are at that wonderful age where they start reaching physical milestones at a rapid-fire pace,” says Linda Nelson from KinderCare’s Education team. “They’ve gained basic control over their arms and legs, which means they’re exploring the world more independently in search of their latest and greatest find—but they’re still working on building small-muscle control in their hands.”

That’s why we’re whipping out an activity filled with smashing fun that’s also helping them practice those important fine-motor skills!

Fine Motor Skills Activities in Early Childhood Offer a Lot of Learning

Tots grab onto toy hammers and try their hand at using them to push golf tees into blocks of florist foam—a great skill-builder, but also pretty entertaining at the same time. (After all, what toddler doesn’t love smashing and bashing things?)

“By holding and working with a hammer, toddlers aren’t just developing fine-motor skills—they’re also being introduced to the idea that we can use tools to help us accomplish tasks,” explains Nelson.

There’s a lot that we’re teaching toddlers here at KinderCare, but you can extend that learning, too! Check out our fun, easy ways to help your tot develop fine-motor skills right in the comfort of your own home.

Build Those Muscles! 4 Easy Fine Motor Skills Activities to Do at Home

Photo by yaoinlove / iStock
Photo by yaoinlove / iStock

1. Dig into play dough

Most tots adore the sensation of smooshing play dough between their fingers, but when you add in rolling pins and cookie cutters, you’re upping the fine-motor skill-building and giving them even more ways to get creative. (Not to mention, your child is also discovering ways that tools can add to the play-dough fun!)

2. Make a Cheerio® necklace on a string

Let your toddler eat their fill first, of course, but then pour out a few extra pieces of cereal and hand over a knotted piece of yarn with the open end wrapped in masking tape so they can take a shot at slipping the cereal pieces onto the string (safety tip: make sure you’re always supervising your child around small items like cereal and string).

3. A washcloth + cups + water = skill-building fun

Bath time is always great for exploring the sensation of water and its movements, but introducing a few props into your tot’s fun can also add some learning into the mix. Squeezing washcloths and pouring water from one cup into another is excellent practice at controlling those little fingers!

4. Pull up strips of tape

Simple? Absolutely. But as your tot works to pull a strip of masking tape or painter’s tape from the tabletop, they’re practicing what’s called a pincer grasp, which is the precursor to being able to hold crayons or pencils. Drawing and writing are just around the corner!

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