It is common knowledge that fine motor skills are an essential part of children’s development. They involve the ability to make movements using the small muscles in our hands and wrists. These movements suppose the coordinated work of the brain, hand and eyes.  Fine motor skills are closely connected with the development of gross motor skills and are a very important aspect to guarantee successful learning. This video shows the main differences between gross and fine motor skills.

Why should teachers help their students build fine motor skills?

Unlike other learning skills such as reading, listening, writing and speaking, fine motor skills come to use quite naturally as the usual work of the body. Little hands need to develop dexterity and strength. We, as teachers, can help this process by encouraging children to play, explore and interact with a variety of items. Different types of “play” activities and manipulation skills will actually help prepare a child to hold and use a crayon. The ability to do so is the first step in learning to colour, draw and ultimately write. It is essential to develop fine motor skills on a continuous basis in order to have a successful learning process. These skills can be greatly developed during English classes while working with kids. When it comes to English classes, the work on  fine motor skills can have the following benefits:

  • coordinated work between the brain and hand muscles; 
  • better concentration; 
  • engagement in the task; 
  • fun environment; 
  • ability to code-switch from physical activity to mental one.

Classroom activities which will foster fine motor skills 

  • Construction Activities

Construction requires pushing and pulling with fingers and storing construction materials in some boxes or jars, building blocks, etc. When kids are involved in these kinds of activities they are more engaged, they develop their team working skills and in addition to this, through movement the material they learn gets better fixed.

As a construction activity, they can be set a task called the ‘Marshmallow Challenge’. The learners need to build a tower with 20 sticks of spaghetti and put the marshmallow on the top. You can watch more about the Marshmallow Challenge in this video. 

Kids with a lower level of English can build towers with different colour blocks. They can do it after they learn colours. The teacher gives them a list of colours and they need to build a tower using the mentioned colour blocks. Each team is given different colours. 

  • Sorting Activities 

These type of activities can be greatly exercised while covering different topics. The teacher may prepare cards on nationalities and countries and pile them on the table. He/she divides the class into two/three groups, provides each group with two boxes and asks to put cards with nationalities in one box and cards with countries in another box. Some other activities may include sorting out parts of the speech, like nouns in one box, adjectives in another, classifying sentences with some tenses in relevant boxes. 

  • Scissors, glues, markers 

Classroom activities that involve precise cutting will encourage students to process information received from the eyes to control, guide and direct the hands.

Teaching children to recycle with materials such as old boxes, paper and egg cartons, and allowing them to create something new is a win-win for all, combining an eco-conscious activity with a fine motor skill session. The kids may be assigned to build small tree houses for birds. This is a great chance to talk in English and develop their motor skills.

In my classes, I assign a lot of tasks when the students need to prepare poster presentations. They need to cut and glue some pictures on the poster, colour them with markers, design the poster. All these activities help to reinforce the learnt material.  

  • Drawing/Using the pencils

It is essential to develop the kids’ skills of using the pencil appropriately. There are a number of worksheets which help them to practice these skills. You can print off free online dot-to-dot worksheets which may include letters, some words, etc. Kids may be asked to colour certain pictures with some colours mentioned by the teacher. This helps them to fix colours and develop their motor skills. 

Here you can find more useful activities aimed at developing motor skills. They can be easily implemented into any English lesson activity after being adapted to the target material. 

To sum up, the development of fine motor skills is crucial in terms of muscle strength, brain and eye coordination and engagement into classroom activities. When learners carry out tasks exercising fine motor skills, they are more concentrated and remember the material better. 

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