Friday Flashback – easy DIY fine motor skills activity

This is the first in my Friday Flashback series. The series will be a look back at my pre-blogging days. I have had the idea for this blog in my head for so long and I have been taking pictures of everything we do, thinking “I’ll blog about this one day”. Well, today is that day!

For our first Friday Flashback I’m revisiting a Montessori inspired fine motor skills activty. This is so quick and simple to put together. Does your family eat cereal? Does your family eat macaroni? Yes? Then you have everything you need to make this activity and you won’t have to outlay a cent!

(That odd marking on R’s hand is the remnants of one of those temporary tattoos. I think this one was once a frog on a skateboard!)

To make this, I simply took an empty cereal box and pierced some holes in a random pattern over one side of the box. I used a pair of scissors but you could use anything you have on hand such as a skewer. I tried to vary the width of the holes a little. The idea is for the child to push the macaroni through the holes so I made some holes quite large, thus making it very easy to slide the macaroni through, and for other holes I kept the fit nice and snug to create a bit more of a challenge. After you have pierced the holes in the box, pour some uncooked macaroni into a bowl and voila! Instant game.

R was 2.5 when we did this. He really enjoyed it and his attention was held for at least fifteen minutes – no mean feat for him when he was that age! I just love the look of concentration on his face in this picture. He’s also doing this with his non-dominant hand in this picture which I was very interested to observe, especially given the fact that this was the first time we’d tried anything like this.

This was such a simple activity to whip up in no time. Just the thing to occupy a little one when you need a quick few minutes to get something done. This activity encourages fine motor skills including the all-important pincer grip, hand / eye co-ordination, concentration skills, and patience. All that from a cereal box! Who knew?

After 15 minutes of deep concentration, R was done, and he decided the uncooked macaroni could be put to much better use as an afternoon snack!

Finally it was all over. Literally. All over the table, that is!

February activity trays – V is for Valentine’s Day

These are the trays that I’ve put together for R (3.5) this month. This is something I do every few weeks. The trays usually have a Montessori influence and I try to include an activity to cover fine motor skills, art, sensory play, practical life, literacy and numeracy. R LOVES these “games” as he calls them and this month was his most excited reaction so far. I usually set them out at night after he’s gone to bed so he wakes up to shelves filled with new trays. To say he was thrilled when he saw these Valentine’s Day themed activities would be a a slight understatement. “Oh WOW! Wow! Thank you Mummy! Thank you!” I never push R to pick up these trays and work with them. They are just left on our shelves, all set up and ready to go and he chooses when and how often he will do them. I’ll often peek into the living room when things have gone a bit quiet, just to check that all is ok and there he’ll be, sitting at his table, quietly working, or should that be playing, with one of his trays. Even though each of these activities does have an intended lesson to be learned, I always leave their use as quite open ended. I will demonstrate each tray to R, but then I will leave it up to him whether he chooses to use the trays in the way I’ve shown him, or whether he would prefer to create a new way to use them. I love seeing him use his imagination to come up with new ways to play with these trays. So, here they are…

This is our Valentine’s themed sensory tub. Sensory tubs are by far R’s favourite type of play. The very firt time I created one for him, he played with it for two and a quarter hours straight. That was something to behold given that he was only 2.5 at the time. For our Valentine’s sensory tub, I was inspired by this tub from the completely wonderful Counting Coconuts. I gathered up anything and everything that was red, orange or pink and just threw it in there. I created an eye spy game by taking pictures of some of the objects. R then looks for the items and places them on the photographs as he finds each object.

R really enjoys this game and is very particular about placing the found objects on the photo in exactly the same position as the photographed object, right down to the dice needing to be placed with the same numbers showing upwards as in the photo. Hmmm. Detail oriented or simply inherited his mother’s OCD tendancies?

Here are the rest of our trays. Several of these trays were inspired by these trays, again from Counting Coconuts. Honestly, I can’t rave enough about the fabulous ideas that Mari-Ann comes up with. Mari-Ann is the reason I am so thoroughly interested in Montessori.

 Pipe cleaner beading threading. Great fine motor skills activity. R inserts the pipe cleaners into the holes of the salt shaker and then threads beads onto the pipe cleaners.

 This is how the activity looks once it has been completed. The foam letters are presented on the tray in a mixed pile and R places them in order to match the word in the photo. I created a “love” tray for our Valentine’s Day thee as well as a similar tray with his name in the photo.

Open ended art tray. Paper, glue and lots of miscellaneous materials such as tissue paper, crepe paper, confetti hearts, jewel-like stickers and mini foam letters. This has been R’s absolute favourite this month. He created four pictures within the first twenty minutes of seeing the new trays for the first time.

Pouring confetti hearts from one glass to another.

Creating the lette V on our homemade geo board.

Letter V push-pin activity. Fine motor and literacy. R traces the letters by inserting the push pin into the printed page. This was part of the wonderful set of Valentine’s printables  from Confessions of a Homeschooler. This site has a wealth of ideas and free printables or you can purchase the entire set of Pre-K printables. That’s what I chose to do and we have a folder for each letter, full of printables and activities.

So there you have it. Our trays for February. They’ve been a big hit.