This article is the third in this term’s series on Fine Motor Skills. It is a deep dive into developing finger strength and finger isolation and provides examples of how this can be achieved using games because children love to learn from play.
In the two previous fine motor skills articles I explored What Fine Motors Skills Are and Why They Are Important and Pencil Grip and Teaching Lower Case Letters and Sounds. This article looks at why finger isolation is important and why children need to build individual finger strength, especially in their index fingers. We have created the game of Leap Frog to assist in developing this crucial skill and have included both the game board and diverse learning experiences able to be incorporated into the game in this article.
Finger isolation, or the ability to move one finger at a time, is a very important fine motor skill to develop. In particular, it helps young children with efficient pencil grasp. Having already explored pencil grip, the ability to hold a pencil for an extended period of time or to be able to exert force correctly when using a pencil are very important skills for children to develop. At a young age finger strength assists in simple tasks such as tying shoelaces or opening and closing buttons and zip. As children develop, finger strength is needed for typing on a keyboard, playing musical instruments and numerous other adult daily living skills such as pegging clothes on a line or using a screwdriver.
There are a wide variety of activities children can complete to assist in their development of finger strength and overall fine motor skills. This could be as simple as painting with bubbles in the bath to completing small piece puzzles. A perfect method for developing finger strength is through the construction of and playing with finger puppets. An example of this can be found in our On The Farm Box with the instructions and materials provided to create a cute cow finger puppet. This activity involves cutting, gluing and drawing to make the puppet followed by an opportunity to place the puppet on each of the fingers to practice moving each finger to move the puppet.
Another fun way to build fine motor skills is with the KeyChain Games available for just $1 from Kmart. The tiny game of Connect Four is perfect for developing the ability to pick up small objects and then placing them in the correct slot. Designed to teach the tactical skills of counter placement and planning, the counters can also be used to create colourful sequences to teach the mathematical concept of patterning or moved using chopsticks or tweezers to further develop finger strength.
The other KeyChain Game is the bucket of Leaping Frogs. Each bucket contains 10 frogs with 5 frogs of each of two colours and is prefect to use with the game board Premium members can download below to play the game Leap Frog.
Designed by us to develop fine motor skills, individual finger strength and dexterity this game uses a single finger to promote finger isolation. The depth of pressing the tab on the back of a frog determines the length of the frog’s jump while the frog’s direction determines where it will land on the page.
The tiny frogs are the perfect size for little hands while the game itself promotes the use of positional language such as whether a frog will land on, next to or on top of a lily pad or other frog. Length terms can also be used such as how far the frog leaps and counting can be encouraged and supported using the circles at the top of the page. The counters from the Connect Four game can be used to cover these circles to further develop fine motor skills if desired.
This Leap Frog game not only promotes fine motor and maths skills, it also teaches the art of turn taking, sharing and the resilience required when children do not win. This is a very important skill for young children to learn as they need to know how to lose graciously and without getting overly upset when it happens.
I hope you enjoy playing this game and please let us know in the comments below what your child thought of our Leap Frog game and what other learning you were able to incorporate into it. Please also let us know what areas of child development you would like us to explore in our future articles so we can provide you with games to make learning fun for you and your children.