Activities for Kids that Encourage Motor Skills Development
Every able-bodied adult takes hand-eye coordination for granted. But the abilities to put on mascara or take a chip from bag to mouth are advanced motor skills requiring us to process information about size, distance, and depth. This kind of coordination feels inherent – but motor skills development doesn’t just happen magically. Motor development in children begins in the earliest stages of childhood and can be encouraged through simple, fun motor skills activities for kids.
Motor skills activities for kids aged 5+ months
Starting at about 5 months, children’s reflexes begin to develop. Babies will grab objects and transfer them from one hand to the other. The main role of the parent or caregiver wanting to strengthen motor skills is to encourage this exploration by setting an example.
Go Fetch (Sans Bone)
Place a stuffed animal, ball, small toy or object at one end of a blanket. Encourage your child to crawl to the object (and you), by calling, “Bring the (toy) to mommy/daddy!” She’ll soon learn the objective and even if she doesn’t finish the marathon crawl, she will try. (As a bonus, this helps strengthen baby’s neck muscles as well.)
Grab a length of rope or ribbon long enough to tie around your waist and dangle as a tail. Stay just out of reach of your baby and swish your hips, pretending to be whatever tailed animal you prefer (we suggest unicorn) and get your baby to catch that tail! Don’t make it too difficult; that will defeat the purpose of the game. Encourage him by saying things like, “Grab the tail!”
Make A Mess – And Clean It Up
It’s no secret that babies love messing stuff up. Whether it’s emptying kitchen jars of dal, pulling books out of the bookcase, or rummaging through your sock drawer, babies are not so different from tornadoes. But there’s a silver lining: You can channel their innate destructive behavior into kids’ activities that help them learn skills like stacking, pouring, and filling.
Put stuffed animals into a small bin and let your kiddo empty it all out. Then, help him pick up the pieces — but don’t do it entirely for him; the point is to get him to pick up the objects – and let him do it all over again. Encourage him by saying, “Can you help mommy/daddy pick up the pieces?” The cycle can continue till one of you (read: mom/dad) is bored. (This also sets the foundation for cleaning up after himself. Win-win.)
Motor skills activities for kids aged 1-2
Most toddlers can pick up small objects between their fingers or grasp a pencil. This is the time for activities that stimulate kids’ finer motor skills while also continuing to develop more complex hand-eye coordination.
Pick Out The Snacks
Mix up some dry fruits in a plate or bowl and ask your child to pick out just one kind. For example, from a mix of almonds and raisins, tell him separate out the raisins. Make sure you participate — you’re the sous chef!
Put The Bindi On Mama
Print an A4-size photo of yourself and ask your toddler to put the bindi on your photo-forehead. If you don’t wear bindis, you can use stickers for earrings or barrettes, or any other familiar accessory. (Put the watch/tie on Dad could also work.) If you have the patience of a saint, you can try letting your kid play the same game on your real face.
Play Balloon Volleyball
This is exactly what it sounds like. Blow up a balloon and take turns smacking it into the air. Our guess is, you will be doing most of the smacking, but the reaching out and aiming is what’s beneficial for your child. Kids are infinitely amused by this one. (Keep the fans off to avoid any wind currents or sudden explosions.)
Check it: Imagination-building activities for kids
Motor skills activities for kids aged 2+
By 2 years old, children can stack objects like blocks, eat by themselves, and hold writing instruments with confidence. But there are still activities for kids that will help fine-tune motor skills in preschoolers.
Give A High Five
Your child is probably starting to tire of all your antics by this age, so time to play the cool parent card and offer high fives for every exciting or celebratory moment. Not only does this up your awesomeness quotient, it also requires a high level of skill to make the hands match up.
Hire A Little Waiter
At meal times, employ your child as head waiter or waitress for the evening. Give her a small water bottle and help her pour water into glasses. Or ask her to place the plates, cutlery and napkins on the table together. You might want to retain responsibility for food serving, though, to avoid a mess.
Trace Hand Prints
Grab a pencil and paper and demonstrate how to trace around your own hand to create a handprint (that can be turned into a peacock, if your kid likes drawing). Of course you can’t expect a 3-year-old to do it with as much accuracy as you can, but an exact trace isn’t the point, nor is staying in the lines while colouring. It’s the practice that matters.