At your fingertips, fine motor skills
Activities for toddlers and babies
Trace your hand several times on colourful pieces of construction paper and cut them out. Hang them from the ceiling in your daycare.
ROUTINES AND TRANSITIONS
You will need plastic containers with lids. Cut a small hole in each lid and put them back on the corresponding containers. Give each child a container as well as a small quantity of dry cereal. Encourage children to insert the cereal in their container, one piece at a time, through the hole cut out of the lid. Once their container is full, let children open it and eat the cereal. Variation: You may cut a second hole out of the bottom of each container. Toddlers will enjoy shaking their container to make the cereal fall out of it.
Squeeze a dollop of moisturizing lotion into the palm of your hand and massage it into children's hands during diaper changes. Be sure to massage each finger. You may use the following rhyme to make this activity even more appealing for little ones.
I walk around the garden (gently caress the child's hand)
I remove the big rocks (pretend to pick a few rocks out of the child's hand)
I squish the weeds (gently press the child's hand with your fingers)
And plant tiny seeds (tickle the child's hand)
Hello Mrs. Rain (gently tap the child's hand repeatedly)
Hello Mr. Wind (gently blow on the child's hand)
Hello Mr. Sun (gently blow hot air on the child's open hand)
1, 2, 3, 4, 5...happy little flowers (massage each finger one by one)
SENSORY ACTIVITIES (touch and taste)
Fingertips in yogurt
Spread a thin layer of vanilla yogurt in a plate or bowl. Set blueberries on top of the yogurt so they are semi-submerged in the yogurt. Encourage babies and toddlers to use their fingers to eat the blueberries one by one. The yogurt offers an interesting texture for little ones to explore. What's more, the color contrast of the blue blueberries on the white yogurt will encourage children to manipulate and eat them.
SENSORY ACTIVITIES (touch and look)
Ice cube trays
I enjoy using empty ice cube trays for snack time activities. Deposit a different type of food in each section. For example, you may set blueberries in one section, cheese cubes in another section, tiny crackers in yet another section and so on. Let children use their fingers to grasp the foods at snack time.
ARTS & CRAFTS
Collect several old catalogues. Thick Sears catalogues are ideal, but magazines can work too. Let babies and toddlers manipulate the catalogues as they wish for a simple fine motor skills activity. After a while, show them how they can tear the pages. If this seems challenging for some, cut tiny slits at the bottom of a few pages to simplify this task for children. Add plastic containers children can fill and empty with torn and crumpled catalogue pages.
Variation with paper
If you do not have catalogues or magazines on hand for the previous activity, use paper instead. Use paper that is already in your recycling bin. Wrapping paper is interesting for little hands since it tears very easily.
MORAL AND SOCIAL ACTIVITIES
Print pictures of the children in your group as well as pictures of people who play an important role in their lives. Hang a clothesline in your daycare, at children's level. Use wooden or plastic clothespins to display the pictures on your clothesline. Let babies and toddlers use their fingers to grasp the pictures. Show older toddlers how they can hang the pictures on the clothesline. Supervision required.
Pour water in a shallow container. Add foam bath and stir to create a thick layer of bubbles. Add several tiny objects that can safely be manipulated by the children in your group. Encourage babies and toddlers to use their hands to grab hold of one item at a time. Let them explore each one for a few minutes before asking them to hide it under the bubbles once more (object permanence).
Paint the tip of one of your fingers. Show toddlers your finger and name the color. Gently rub your finger on toddlers' fingertips to transfer the color. Variation: If you wish, you can explore a simple color combination by applying one color on your fingertip and a different color on toddlers' fingertips. For example if you apply yellow paint on your fingertip and blue paint on a toddler's fingertip, when you rub your fingers together, you will see green appear. Name the colors.
PHYSICAL ACTIVITY AND MOTOR SKILLS
Half-inflated beach balls
To make it easier for young babies to grab hold of balls, let the air out of several beach balls so they are approximately half-inflated. Since beach balls are very light, they are perfect for little hands. This activity requires constant supervision.
Homemade shape sorter
Foster children's fine motor skills by creating your own shape sorter, one that is easier than store-bought versions for very young children. You will need a plastic container with a lid. Cut a hole out of the lid, large enough for children to be able to easily insert the objects you have chosen. For example, you could use wooden blocks, ping-pong balls, figurines, etc. Put the lid back on the container and encourage babies and toddlers to insert the objects in the container through the hole in the lid.
Gather all the finger puppets you can find. Place one puppet on each finger and have fun moving them and making them "speak" with babies and toddlers. This is the perfect language exploration activity for this theme!
Early childhood educator
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