Fine Motor Skills Toys – Will a Toy Help or Not?
Are you looking for fine motor skills toys? Do you find that choosing one can sometimes be a bit confusing because after all there are a number of resources offering a bunch of possible solutions? Our goal is to help our child master the skills they need to handle getting dressed, brushing their hair and teeth, having dexterity to write and yes, to manage a knife and fork so they can independently eat their food.
Are you wondering will a toy really help kid’s fine motor skills? If you want to find toys that encourage fine motor skills I hope I can shorten your search. The answer simply is YES, there are engaging games and toys that will strengthen their muscles and, hmm yes, exercises that address poor posture. All of this matters.
Let’s do a quick review to see why it matters and define fine motor skills. Also, we can look for a few fine motor skills examples. So let’s get cracking.
Define Fine Motor Skills
The simplest way to think of this is how our children are able to use their hands. They need to be able to grasp things to get stuff done, right. Things like:
- managing their spoon to eat soup
- holding a pencil to write
- cutting paper for their school projects or to do something artsy
- buttoning their clothing, or
- zipping their coat
- tying their shoes
- brushing their teeth and hair
The strength in their fingers and hands are critically important if they are going to be able to accomplish these finer movements in contrast to gross motor skills, the type of skills an Occupational Therapist works on with your child. So, consider this, isn’t it a health concern when brushing their teeth is so hard they fight getting it done. How many of us are still helping our kiddos with tooth brushing? Granted it can be a sensory thing having that toothbrush in their mouth, but holding and brushing with the toothbrush is also part of this challenge.
What perspective should we have?
This is a pretty important skill. Just think of it this way, if your child is struggling to correctly hold a pencil then their focus is on that pencil and not on what they need to be learning. If they are having problems learning then what do you think is going to happen to their self-esteem from always struggling in class? What about their attitude toward learning? If it’s hard, it will be resisted, right?
That is the overall experience in our household. My little one has developed distraction and avoidance tactics out the kazoo. This is why I am drilling down on more of what I can do from within our home to help her. I expect what I am learning can help you too. Whether the problems you are facing are learning disabilities like dysgraphia, dyslexia, dyspraxia, or the global developmental delays that you have observed all along, then finding a toy that does double duty will help.
4 Foundations to Improve Fine Motor Skills
Without good posture, a child can get tired pretty easily when doing writing. They may be holding up their shoulders because the desk is not correctly adjusted for them, may be pressing very hard on the paper to help stabilize themselves because their core isn’t keeping them stable. We need to seek ways to strengthen the girdle of muscles in the shoulders and their trunk too. Think core exercises.
- Bilateral Coordination
Being able to coordinate both sides of the body to get a job done is what this skill means. We are talking about getting both hands involved at the same time possibly doing something different one from the other. Two examples are holding a piece of paper and rotating it while cutting a shape out and then there is tying shoes.
- Tactile Perception
If the brain isn’t processing what your child is touching then it could feel to him that he is feeling things through a rubber glove, not so cool. The nervous system is probably okay, it a processing issue. If he is dropping small items or lets things fall from his grasp this could be the problem, he just isn’t sensing things with his hands and fingers the same way we do.
- Hand Function
All those little muscles in the hands need to work together in order to do fine motor tasks like writing, or holding a spoon and eating soup. It’s a matter of controlling small objects like that pencil. But this hand function is also dependent on the wrist and forearm, too, because they are getting the hand in position to do its job.
This does make sense, doesn’t it? Good posture, being able to have both sides of the body working in tandem with each other, having good touch perception, and getting the hand, wrists, and forearms working so that there is good control means that fine motor skills will develop and be in place for them. It will facilitate their successes at school and at home, being more able to accomplish for themselves what they need, like buttoning their own shirt. YIPEE they are going to be able to be fully functioning in their own world. Yup, YIPEE! Whoot Whoot! Yahoo! Okay, enough silliness. “-)
So here are a couple of things we are doing now that I have evaluated for you.
Block Beads on a String
For many, many months she worked with the difficulty of stringing these block beads onto this small cord. This was very hard for her as the ‘bilateral coordination’ just wasn’t developed. One hand wasn’t doing well working along with the other to poke the string through the little holes and then grab and pull it through. It was tough, really tough. I have had this in our collection of things to do since she was 2 years old.
Here is a product we recently purchased that you may want to consider.
A fun new game in our house that also supports fine motor skills development.
PRODUCT: The Honeybee Tree Game
OVERALL RATE: 4.5
from: National Autism Resources Corp
Keeping my little one engaged, yes to keep her ‘on task’ is a big job. How about you and your little one? Are they prone to avoiding the hard work too? We need to find a toy that can strengthen them and keep their interest at the same time.
It has accomplished two things that are fine motor-oriented, a pincher grasp when removing the leaves, and holding good posture because controlling the grasp and removing the leaf needs to be done cautiously. To bump against the table or the tree would upset the release of the bees and end the game, or necessitate starting it over.
There are other benefits we have experienced, too. Like using hand strength to turn the tree to each lawn cup and using the bees to do number association are also helping her further develop skills. This is a win-win addition to our game collection.
Who Is it For?
Any family can use this little game, but it is for children 3 years and older and from 2 to 4 players. It must be remembered that the bees could be considered a choking hazard so of course that makes it important to not use the game with kids who still put things in their mouth. However, I do have to say that the bees are not tiny, in fact, I was surprised at how large they really are, and well made too.
This game is not exclusively a game for special needs kiddos, either. Anyone can enjoy this little toy. In fact, we have played it with her older sister and brother who patiently played along with her and her speech therapist joined in a game once too.
The manufacturer of this toy is the company Game Zone and it is marketed by International Playthings, L.L.C. whose saying is “Toys…that make a difference!”
Their locations is: 75D Lackawanna Ave., Parslyppany, NJ 07054 USA
Honeybee Tree – $17.49
Retail Price: $19.99
You Save: $2.50
from: National Autism Resources Corp
Final Opinion & Recommendation
I have purchased this from the National Autism Resources Corporation and have every confidence this product is safe. It meets European standards having acquired the CE designation and therefore “meets or exceeds ASTM F963” criteria. These criteria in Europe can only be acquired if a product has met strict manufacturing and product control guidelines. Of course, this is good news as the toy itself was made in China. Having a CE designation is assurance of its quality and safety.
I have given it a rating of 4.5 for only one reason. It takes a bit of time to set up the game to play. The leaves need to be put into and through the plastic housing which is the beehive of the tree. Other than that I feel it is a great toy. Anytime I can get my little one to engage in a concentration task I consider that to be a success. The fact this game also encourages good posture, using a controlled finger grasp, and she gets to practice number association too, well that’s a win-win for sure.
Here are a few other items that I have either purchased or intend to soon. I will be doing a review on them in upcoming posts but thought you might find it interesting and helpful to see what else I have discovered and am using.
- Pencil Weight
- Price: $17.89
- Why Does Izzy Cover Her Ears?
- Price: $17.49
- Theraputty 1 lb
- Price: $29.99
- Diving Dolphin
- Price: $21.95
- Weighted Pencil
- Price: $24.99
- Butter Grip Combo (1 Purple & 1 Blue)
- Price: $6.99
If you have found this review to be of value, please take a look at this page of other items that can be ordered from the National Autism Resources company. And look for upcoming reviews. If there is something you are wondering about or perhaps needing, contact me here, or leave a comment below and I will be glad to check into it for you.