Fine Motor Skills: 22 Activities to Promote Teenagers’ Development
For example ... KREO Transformers, perfect for kids ages 8+ and on both my 9-year-old and 11-year-old son's holiday wish lists, perfectly meets that criteria. It's "cool," prompts creativity and imagination, and teaches skills like sorting and building.
But for me, the most important element when choosing gifts this holiday season was finding a toy that helped improve our tween son's fine motor skills and this toy does that in spades. Who knew Optimus Prime was so skilled? Score!
What are Fine Motor Skills?
Fine motor skill development in children is critical for their ability to perform everyday tasks such as eating, dressing, grooming, writing, and using a computer. By definition...
Fine motor skills involve the small muscles of the body that enable such functions as writing, grasping small objects, and fastening clothing. They involve strength, fine motor control, and dexterity.
Some children seem to need more assistance in developing their fine motor skills than others. My 11-year-old son, for example, struggled to develop them in his early elementary school years while my 9-year-old son has always been able to manage the tiniest of objects with ease. I can see how this impacts them differently as they have grown older. My older child continues to be challenged with tasks like handwriting and struggles to play or work with small parts. However, my younger son excels at things like origami and his favorite toys and craft activities include very small pieces, like beads.
While giving kids the opportunity to develop fine motor skills at the youngest age possible makes the biggest difference, it is never too late to help them learn or improve. And this is where toys can make such a big difference.
Why are Fine Motor Skills Important for Teenagers?
Struggling with fine motor skills can impact a teenagers' academics, ability to play a musical instrument or play sports, and use tools. Not being able to participate in these types of things in the adolescent years could impact the teen's self esteem, his grades, her behavior, and his or her ability to form friendships.
22 Tips for Helping Your Teens Refine or Build Their Fine Motor Skills
As I've discovered, a tween boy doesn't find it cool to work on his fine motor skills if you tell him straight up that is what he's doing. But, if you can sneak in the learning in a way that is age appropriate and perhaps even in a way that is popular with his peers, he's far more likely to participate and develop his skills.
Here is a list of things you can do to help your kids build or refine their fine motor skills:
- Do origami with them, starting with simple and working up to more complex projects.
- Research board games that are popular among their friends and play those games at home. The best games are those with small pieces that require lots of movement and use of their pincer grip, like Scrabble, Jenga, checkers, and Monopoly.
- Encourage them to play video games individually at first to develop their skills and then have fun family video game nights where they can show them off.
- Ensure their toys are both fun and assist with their development, like KREO Transformers and other toys with small pieces and parts that require assembly.
- Involve them in art projects or games that involve drawing, writing, or scribbling like coloring, creating fun signs, or playing Pictionary.
- Do art projects that involve cutting, like making paper snowflakes.
- Play with remote control cars. What teenager doesn't want to do that?
- Have a family finger painting party. Get a big piece of butcher paper, put on old t-shirts and berets, and have a blast making your masterpiece.
- Make homemade molding clay together, choose a theme, and work as a family to create that theme: a village, a sports team, an animal farm, and other things that require using imagination and fine motor skills. Get your teens on board by allowing them to choose the theme (something that relates to them), having them make the molding clay, and allowing them to choose the colors.
- Create a puzzle station in your home. Have a table with a puzzle on it at all times. Put chairs around the table so family members can sit together or work individually on piecing together the puzzle.
- Have outdoor winter fun by building and decorating a snow man or having a fun and friendly snowball fight. The process of gathering up the snow and decorating helps with their development.
- Include in their chores assignments like picking up small pieces and parts from games or paper from art projects and separating it into bins or putting it in the trash.
- Join your teen in lessons on a specific handmade craft: sewing, knitting, quilting, crocheting, jewelry making, scrapbooking, card making, etc.
- Encourage your teen to write as much as possible by having him or her to give handwritten thank-you cards on a regular basis to others.
- Have your teen research issues she is passionate about and have writing parties to write handwritten letters to your elected officials about those issues.
- Bake with your teenager. Have him knead the bread, stir the cake batter, or spoon out the cookie dough onto the baking sheet.
- Play peg board games by creating your own or purchasing one like Battleship. Remember that from when you were a kid? It was one of my personal favorites!
- Encourage your child to move small items from one bin or jar to the next. First, have your child pick them up with their hands. Later, have them pick them up with tweezers. If your teen is reticent to participate, make a game out of it, use coins and give her the jar of money once she's separated it, etc.
- Encourage performance of small essential tasks like buttoning, zipping, tying laces, and ties. Do not perform tasks for your teens unless they absolutely can't do it themselves.
- Play speed games where each player competes against herself for the high score. Games could include typing tests at the computer keyboard, texting tests, how fast you can separate and place colored chocolate candies (like M&Ms) into different jars.
- Engage your teen in a project involving stapling, such as stapling index cards together.
- Make a craft project, such as creating a banner, using clothespins. Have your teen use their pincer grip to clip the pieces together.
Additional Resources for Fine Motor Skill Development
Want more information?
- Read this post entitled "30 Materials & Activities to Promote Fine Motor Skills" by Hands On As We Grow. Adapt the ideas, which are geared to children, for your teenagers.
- Check out this and other articles from eHow: "Activities to Develop Fine Motor Skills in Children."
- Learn "Exercises for Fine Motor Skills" from this post for stroke survivors on LiveStrong.com.
What activities do you like to do with your kids to build their fine motor skills?
Disclosure: This post was sponsored by KREO Transformers. The theme of fine motor skills and all the content relating to it, including the claim of KREO Transformers being an awesome toy to help teenagers' development in that area, is based on my own research and my own opinions and does not reflect the information provided to me by Hasbro or KREO Transformers.
Latest posts by Jyl Johnson Pattee (see all)