Monday, November 30, 2015

Fine Motor Skills

There is definitely a lot of talk about fine motor skills and fine motor activities. Thousands of pins on Pinterest.  But what is it all about?

In Mother Goose Time's Research Foundation book they note that
"Fine motor skills involve the smaller muscles in the fingers, toes, eyes, wrists and ankles.  Fine motor skills are used in actions such as drawing, writing, grasping objects, waving and turning book pages.  Fine motor skills are linked to early reading and literacy achievement (Reno, 1995)."
(I could  not find a direct link to the Research Foundation book but you can see it for sale on this page.)

Mother Goose Time has this awesome thing called a Developmental Continuum of Skills.  They have broken down all the skills children need to learn and put them along developmental benchmarks.

The first benchmark starting at benchmark A and ending at benchmark H.  Preschoolers should fall somewhere in the middle at benchmark D.

When it comes to fine motor skills they break it down into 2 categories.

5.1 Controls Small Movements
"Children control small movements as they use their arms and hands to manipulate small objects.  As children increase their ability to control thier fingers, wrists, and toes, they are able to act on objects and move in their environment with greater accuracy and precision.  These fine motor skills, especially eye-hand coordination, are essential for school readiness (Brack, 2004)."
5.2 Uses drawing/writing tools.
"Children coordinate small movements to control drawing and writing tools.  This fine motor control is required for children to draw pictures, printing symbols, letters and eventually, words and sentences.  Children who have difficulty coordinating small muscle groups have difficulty dressing, feeding and manipulating scissors and writing utensils.  This difficulty may prevent children from independently meeting the demands of school (Reno, 19195)."
For 5.1 an infant should start by reaching for objects that are in sight.  Next, a toddler should manipulate objects with purpose, such as feeding self with a spoon.

Benchmark C says your toddler/almost preschooler should open, close, twist and pull objects.  Benchmark D, preschool age, should be able to snip with scissors and string large beads. 
Benchmark E - Follows a straight line when cutting and drawing.  Buttons, zips, buckles and laces.
Benchmark F, considered pre-primary (Kindergarten) should follows and outline with scissors.  Ties shoes and dresses self.
Benchmark G, primary school (1st grade) says they should be able to thread small beads and stack small objects.
Benchmark H which is 2nd grade says they should be able to bead, grasp and stack objects of all sizes with speed and accuracy.

Here are the benchmarks under 5.2, Uses drawing and writing tools.
Benchmark A - Picks up small objects with thumb and pointer finger (pincher grasp).
Benchmark B - Purposefully grasps and releases objects.  Makes random marks with writing tools.
Benchmark C - Holds drawing/writing tools with whole hand and may use whole arm to make intentional marks.
Benchmark D - Uses fingers to grasp and manipulate drawing/writing tools with increasing control.
Benchmark E - Uses mature tripod grip with writing/drawing tools.
Benchmark F - Consistently uses mature tripod grip with drawing/writing tools.
Benchmark G - Legibly prints letters, numbers and symbols.
Benchmark H - Uses appropriate spacing between letters and words.  Controls the size and placement of letters, numbers or details in drawings.

Why are these benchmarks important?  Well at MGT they believe in authentic assessment.  This just means that the educator takes note of where the child falls on a skill while they are at work on a project.  No special "test" is needed.  Once you are able to assess where a child is at on the benchmark you can look ahead to the next benchmark to see where the child should progress to next.  This is where learning happens, between what they know and what they need to know.  In this way you can encourage them to build upon their skills. 

So that's what they need to know, why it is important and how we can use that information to help teach our children.  So how do we see these skills played out when using Mother Goose Time?

We decided to dye our noodles in liquid water color.  You can see the fine motor skills at work as he scoops the noodles out of the dye.
 Then we colored our trains.
 Then we beaded our colored noodles on a pipe cleaner.
This is just one craft from MGT putting to work many aspects of the fine motor skills.

Many of my friends believe that I am a crafty person that loves to do crafts with my children.  I am actually quite the opposite.  I honestly would do very few crafts with my children if it were up to me.  I don't like the mess, I don't like the planning, and I don't like to have piles of craft supplies around the house.  The ONLY reason my children are exposed to daily activities like this train one, is because of Mother Goose Time.   These sort of crafts have so many opportunities to practice their fine motor skills that if offered, once a month (how often I would offer it if it were up to me), would just not make the same impact as they do now when doing them on an almost daily basis. 

Adam has also been exposed to these crafts along with his big brother since the day he was born because of that, he doesn't see any reason why he should not also join in.  You may have seen my last post about him using scissors!  He is only 20 months almost 21, not even 2 years old doing some fine motor skills out at Benchmark D, which is preschool level.
What are you thinking kid!

Here he is putting tape down on a map we made earlier in the month.  Wearing the same pajamas too. 
As with many skills we strive to learn, fine motor skills also fall into the category of  "practice makes perfect."  Mother Goose Time gives us plenty of opportunity for practice!

1 comment:

  1. The development continuum was sad for me today (we started a day early because I am a weirdo and thought it was awkward to break the themed weeks up). I had been thinking that Little Guy was so smart because he knows his letters and the sounds they make and can count and sort pretty well. Enter day one assessments, and he isn't really smart, he is just normal. Silly mom thinking her baby is the best thing since sliced bread LOL.

    I am so excited to work with him on stuff that I don't think to do. I am really just a workbook/flashcards kind of teacher, which while I think is effective with older kids it doesn't really give little kids the skills they need before the start the book work. I am glad to hear that your kids would be woefully art project deprived too if it were not for Mother Goose Time :P