Do you hear people mention the terms ‘fine’ and ‘gross motor skills’ and recognise that they are important for your child to develop but wonder how you can help support your own child to develop them further at home?

Let’s explore what motor skills are, why they are important plus some fun activity ideas with Connetix magnetic tiles that you can use with your child to develop these crucial skills needed for their lives ahead.

Why are motor skills important for early childhood development?

Play is vital for children to develop their fine and gross motor skills. It’s through play, that they are able to practice and perfect control and coordination of large body movements known as gross motor skills, as well as developing the coordination of their small muscle movements known as fine motor skills. The development of these muscles is not only important for practical life tasks, but it is also necessary for writing too.

Connetix magnetic tiles are particularly great to help strengthen these muscles, as they require a child to place them precisely due to the strong magnets enclosed within each tile.

Building up these muscles, promotes muscle tone and stamina (needed in latter school years when children are required to write for longer periods of time and for specific purposes) as well as promoting dexterity too.

Motor skills and motor control begin from when a child is born and progress as they grow. They are essential for their physical strength and movement and are used every day and throughout life. Motor skills help us move and do everything from walking and running to lifting, eating our food, speaking, singing and writing.

Motor skills are split into two categories: gross motor skills and fine motor skills. Mastering both is vital to help support children throughout their lives. For example, difficulties to do everyday tasks can thus affect one’s self-confidence, or a child’s ability to develop self-care and independence skills and even later on in life affect their academic performance.

The Development of Gross Motor Skills:

Gross motor skills are specific to the larger muscle movements within the body such as the legs, arms, head and torso.

Therefore, it is important to practice physical activities like walking, lifting, kicking, running and throwing etc. to develop these skills further and strengthen those all-important muscles.

Here are some ideas to help your child to develop their gross motor skills using Connetix Tiles:

Treasure Map – obstacle course:

Why not create an obstacle course using different Connetix for your child to follow on a treasure map? You can label different parts of the map with the shapes that your child needs to find. They can then climb up, down, over, under and through things to find the different shapes located on the map. You could also place lines of the tiles on the floor for your child to jump/hop over too, to reach the treasure at the end.

Shape Monster:

Pretend that there is a ‘shape monster’ lurking about! The aim of the game is to avoid the scary shape monster. To do this you need to jump over lines of tiles on the floor, collecting the different shapes hidden around the room. Keep those shapes safe by collecting them all as quickly as possible!

Targets:

Throwing and catching balls/objects (a rolled up pair of socks for example!) of different sizes, into boxes made from Connetix magnetic tiles.

Indoor bowling – Simply place the Connetix as though they are pins in a bowling alley. Use a ball to roll towards the pins and see how many you can knock down! You can extend this by placing colours in sections or different shapes to see if certain ones can be knocked down. You could also number them using a whiteboard pen or put post-it notes onto them and get your child to add up the total of the numbers labelled that they knock down.

The development of gross motor skills also form the basis for fine motor skills development too and relate to body awareness, strength, balance, reaction and speed.

The Development of Fine Motor Skills:

Fine motor skill development involves working on controlling the small muscles in the hands, fingers, feet, toes, lips and tongue alongside the coordination of the hands with the eyes.

Developing the muscles in the hands, wrists, fingers, feet and toes includes actions like pressing, pinching, grasping, holding, or using different grips (for example a pincer grip – holding something between the fore-finger and thumb). These are all required to be developed, as mentioned before, to be able to write.

It is also important to develop the muscles in and around the mouth too. Controlling the tongue and lips are also used in order to sing and speak. The lips, tongue and face muscles are also required to coordinate together and it is so important to work on this with your child.

Fine motor skill development also involves vision, specifically visual motor skills, often referred to as hand-eye coordination. Visual-motor skills are required to coordinate the hands, legs, and the rest of the body with what is seen.

You can develop these fine motor skills further through these suggested activities using Connetix Tiles:

Building:

This may seem quite an obvious one, but simply stacking and building with the Connetix magnetic tiles encourage fine motor development through pushing and pulling movements. By providing opportunities to build with these Connetix not only helps to foster creativity, persistence, a sense of accomplishment and an improved ability to solve problems, but it helps to build stronger muscles in their hands and improves coordination which all helps towards learning to hold a pencil and writing equipment in the future.

Puzzles:

You could also get your child to draw a large picture and then cut it up and tape it to some Connetix to create a puzzle for them to put back together.  You can also use removable stickers to place on the tiles or draw on the tiles with wipeable chalk markers to create puzzles

Light panel puzzle:

Another idea is to create different shapes using washi tape on a light panel. Your child needs to use the right shaped Connetix to fit inside the shapes marked out.

Threading and lacing:

You can use the Connetix which have holes in to provide opportunities to thread and lace. You could combine it with different items such as buttons, beads, pasta or hooped-shaped cereal to thread onto string, pipe cleaners or laces. Your child will love doing this and isn’t it just great to see their little concentration faces when they give activities like this a go!!

Tile Parcels:

You can wrap different tiles in foil/wrapping paper and then get your child to unwrap to find out what colour or shape it is inside.

Snack Time:

[ngg src=”galleries” ids=”31″ display=”basic_thumbnail” override_thumbnail_settings=”1″ thumbnail_crop=”1″ number_of_columns=”3″ show_slideshow_link=”0″]Place different snack items in a muffin tin and place a Connetix over each section so that your child has to pull them off to reveal the snack inside. (You can also try this with toys or loose parts)

Singing:

Place different animal pictures on your Connetix. Sing Old Mcdonald together and as you hold up a tile with the different animals on you can add in the different animals that are seen in the song at the farm! (This can of course be adapted for different songs – but they love having different pictures on the magnetic tiles to identify).

Tweezers or Tongs:

[ngg src=”galleries” ids=”32″ display=”basic_thumbnail” override_thumbnail_settings=”1″ thumbnail_crop=”1″ number_of_columns=”2″ show_slideshow_link=”0″]Provide opportunities for your child to start using tweezers or tongs to pick up items, initially of a larger size and then progress onto smaller items to increase the fine motor skill development of those muscles further. You could create a game where they need to pick up items and place them into different pots that you have made using the Connetix. You can extend this further to get them to sort items into categories, such as colour, by using the magnetic tiles to create different coloured pots or by size through creating different sized pots using the Connetix also.

Now that you have some cool examples of different games that can be played with your Connetix, I bet you can’t wait to start playing! Is there anything further you’d like to know about Motor Skills? Let me know in the comments and I will try and answer them for you!

What to do if you’re concerned

It’s worth reminding ourselves that child is different, especially when it comes to their physical development and the development of muscles relating to motor skills – these examples are given as a guide to help develop motor skills. It may not be noticeable until your child reaches school age that they may have difficulties with their balance or coordination, but as always if you have any concerns relating to your child’s development it is best to discuss this with their health visitor or even your GP who will be able to address these with you and provide further support if needed.

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