Hand coordination skills, sometimes called “fine motor skills” are the skills needed to do things like use spoons, pinch salt, and hold a pencil. Young children need lots of practice, especially between the ages of 3 months and 7 years old. Around 2 years old is when playing with playdough starts to have a big impact on children’s hand coordination skills.
Encourage 2-3 year olds to try: – Opening the Ziploc bag or jar where dough is stored on their own – Snipping dough with safety scissors or plastic playdough scissors – Generally shaping play dough with their hands, squishing it, smashing it, and pulling it – Using tools like cookie cutters, spatulas, plastic straws, and pine cones to stamp and cut dough – Roll dough into snakes – Poke it using different fingers
Encourage 4-5 year olds to design detailed creations as they: – Continue practicing their age 2-3 skills – Practice using utensils like forks, knives, and spoons to poke, cut, and scoop – Use tongs to squish and carry dough – Use safety scissors to cut lines and shapes – Build 3D animals, buildings, and other creations – Build letters (especially letters to spell their names) by rolling dough into snakes and bending them into letter shapes – Using a pencil to etch letters into flattened play dough “paper” – Rolling dough into balls of the same and different sizes
Can you get a ball into a cup using a cookbook, Ramen noodles, a tuna can, and some rulers?
Build a wacky chain reaction known as a Rube Goldberg Machine by using things around the house! Fun for everyone aged 3 to 83.
Gather random materials to use. Some good starters are:
Things that roll (like marbles, bouncy balls, toilet paper tubes, cans of soup, and toy cars)
Things that can knock other things over (dominoes, cereal boxes, individual packets of Ramen noodles)
String (ribbon, shoelaces, neckties)
Building materials (tape, stacks of books, rubber bands, Popsicle sticks, clothespins, toy blocks )
If you would like, search YouTube for “Rube Goldberg Machine” for some ideas. When you find a video you feel is appropriate to share with the children in your care, watch it together for inspiration! Below are some of our favorites 😃
Shake up how the children in your care learn new words, follow instructions, do math, and communicate by playing a twist on Simon Says that focuses on developing children’s ideas about position, time, size, numbers, characteristics, and patterns.
Nothing is needed for this game- just some space for everyone to move around!
Standing somewhere where all children can understand your directions, follow the prompts below to get started, then change them up to make the game even more fun! The prompts are organized by what idea they inspire children to think deeply about, but feel free to go out of order.
Begin by saying: “Simon says…” and say one of the following commands. If you do not say “Simon says” before the command, the children should not do the action!
– Letter names – Letter sounds – Number names – Try having them catch fish in alphabetical order ( A, B, C, D…) – Or number order (1, 2, 3…) and (10, 9, 8…) – Counting how many fish they caught after identifying the letters
– Letter groups ( “Catch all the letters that can make the ‘Kuh’ sound,” like C, K, and Q ) – Patterns (number, letter, number, letter; or even, even, odd, odd…) – Equations ( “Catch the fish that is 5 + 2;” or “Catch the fish that is 3 less than 7” ) – Skip counting (2, 4, 6, 8… or 4, 8, 12, 16…) – Catching many fish to make a big number (if they catch 2, 7, 3, and 9, they will tell you the number ‘two thousand, seven hundred thirty-nine) -Spelling words by catching each letter (you may need to make more letter fish for this)
Tip: Looking at school-aged children’s homework or take-home folders might help you decide what to practice. If you aren’t sure, a great way to find out is to talk to their teacher! Call, email, or visit teachers to get the best recommendations!
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Make playdough using ingredients you might already have around the kitchen- Sarahi will teach you how!
Gather the following materials:
2 Heaping Tablespoons Flour
1 Tablespoon Salt
1 Tablespoon Cooking Oil
1 Tablespoon Warm Water
Food Coloring (optional)
Tablespoon (any spoon will do)
1. In a bowl, mix warm water with cooking oil (wet ingredients). Then, add the flour and salt (dry ingredients).
? Ask children: Is the flour and salt dry or wet? What about the oil and water?
2. Mix the wet and dry ingredients together with your hands until it looks and feels like play-dough.
? As a challenge, ask children: does this feel wet or dry to you?
3. If the kids think the dough is too wet and sticky, try saying: “Oh no! Should we add more flour or more water to make it more dry?” Slowly sprinkle more flour into the dough until it feels like play-dough.
Or, if the kids think the mixture is dry and crumbly, try saying: “Oh no! Should we add more flour or water to make it stickier?” Add just a few drops of water at a time until the dough is smooth.
4. To add color, squeeze a few drops of food coloring into the dough. This is a great opportunity to learn about color: point at different food coloring tubes and ask the kids to name the colors.
For a mini science experiment, mix two primary color food coloring dyes (red, yellow, and blue) and have your kids name the colors you made together.
5. Keep the dough in a sealed container to use over and over again!