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Special educational needs and disabilities (SEND)

Fine motor development skills

Fine motor skills

Finger Mobility

  • Caterpillar fingers across the table, progressing on to scrunching up a crepe bandage with each hand in turn – could be competitive and timed
  • Play musical instruments e.g. keyboard, recorder
  • Screw paper into a ball with one hand and aim at target or bin
  • Screw and unscrew nuts and bolts
  • Wind yoyos, wool into balls or onto a large cotton reel
  • Make pom poms from circles of card and wool
  • Spin hoops and different sized balls

Isolated Finger Opposition

  • Use thumb + each finger in turn to pick up dried beans, peas, etc and put in cups
  • Use tweezers to pick up paper clips, buttons, rice, sequins, dried peas etc.
  • Take off and replace tops of pens
  • Flick ping-pong ball, screwed up paper or Maltesers at a target
  • Open and close clothes pegs with thumb and forefinger
  • Place pegs into peg board, marbles onto the marble run etc.
  • Turn over buttons and coins without moving them to the edge of the table.

Dynamic Pencil Grip

  • Encourage pencil to be held in tripod grasp, “pinch it” or with “froggy legs”
  • Strong elastic band around the fingers and thumb of each hand, open and close
  • Hold pen in tripod grasp draw imaginary circles, lines and figures of 8 in the air.
  • Practise scribble patterns on paper or whiteboard. Discourage heavy handedness and tense grasp.

Learning how to use scissors

  • Before holding scissors the child needs to be able to move their thumb, index and middle finger independently – bending and straightening
  • Open and close tools e.g. tongs to pick up different objects
  • Dress tongs with socks or material and a face to make a crocodile or dinosaur
  • Squeeze turkey baster to make bubbles in a bowl or draw up water and squirt
  • Use sponge, small pipette or eye dropper to pick up coloured water for mixing
  • See how far you can squirt water with squirt guns or washing up bottles
  • Move onto scissors – could try the Easy Grip, Self – Opening Scissors if needed
    • Correct hold gives control – thumb on top and scissors pointing away body
    • Open and close without attempting to cut
    • Stick a set of paper teeth on ‘jaws’ for fun
  • Start by cutting across 1cm strips of thin card, progressing to 3cm then 10 cm
  • Snip fringes in newspaper, then once able to cut across the paper
  • Cut within a band of 4cm then gradually reduce to cut within a thick pen line
  • Put a bend one way into the 4 cm band then reduce width, repeat the other way
  • Simple straight lined shapes and progress to curved lines, e.g. semicircle, circle
  • Gradually develop skill by cutting out more complex shapes

Activities for encouraging the use of both hands

Anything requiring the use of both hands will help develop bilateral skills e.g.

  • Construction, Duplo, Lego, Meccano, Mega Bloks, Stickle Bricks etc
  • Magnet games e.g. pull magnets apart after fishing with magnetised bait & fish
  • Use Velcro in games so that it has to be pulled apart afterwards e.g. ball & target
  • Wind-up toys / timers
  • Use a hula hoop – will take 2 hands to hold it steady to get started
  • Dressing and feeding dolly / teddy etc
  • Squeeze marble or button through small tube of material
  • Open and close containers, making sure a high level of success can be achieved
  • Open and close more complex containers e.g. screw top jars, draw strings bags
  • Playing musical instruments e.g. keyboard, drum, recorder
  • Clapping / catching a feather / bubble etc between 2 hands
  • Use empty squeezy bottles to blow a ping pong ball across the room / table
  • Use squeezy bottle filled with water to draw on concrete wall outside

Use non-preferred hand to hold item steady (Holding Hand & Doing Hand)

  • Templates – holding paper and template in place and drawing around template
  • Make rubbings with leaves or textured objects
  • Hold paper up against a wall or whiteboard for writing activity

Threading Activities

  • Place rings / hoops etc on the handle of a wooden spoon
  • Thread washing line and large beads, buttons, pasta, Cheerios, Hula Hoops
  • Thread pipe cleaners or ribbons through a colander or tennis racquet

Creative Activities

  • Papier mache, junk modelling, pom pom making
  • Pick out number of small items from bowl of e.g. salt / sand. (Eyes closed increases sensory awareness in the hands. Try finding paper clips in rice!)
  • Hide small objects in play dough for children to find and pull out
  • Cutting up pieces of paper / snipping bits off from a strip of card
  • Use potato and paint or stamps and an ink pad to stamp on small pieces of paper
  • Finger puppet play
  • Cooking – whisking, mixing, beating, mixing or egg-beating. Wind up a timer
  • Woodwork – hammering, sawing, sand papering, screwdriver / manual drill

Ball skills

  • Catch balls of different weight and size that are impossible to hold with one hand
  • Throw a ball up in the air, clap and catch the ball. See how many times the child can clap and still catch the ball. A balloon ball (Balzac) would be easiest as it moves more slowly
  • Throw a ball up in the air with 1 hand and catch in a plastic cup with the other
  • Bounce a ball on the spot alternate hands
  • Carry a tray with balls on and don’t let them roll off