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Welcome to the nano series on incidental learning – learning as they go. I’m calling it a nano series as it should take you no more than a few minutes to read, but my hope is that you will be able to take away an idea or two to use in play straight away. If you’ve read our last post in the series then I promise they won’t all be on playdough. However, I do find that playdough is a great medium for learning, so this certainly won’t be the last time it appears in the nano series.
Fine Motor Skills
Fine motor skills are really important for little ones to develop. They are the building blocks for being able to communicate in the written word. When teaching reception, it was not unusual to have children who really struggled to hold a pencil, put enough pressure on the paper to make a mark or have not enough control to be able to form shapes. Playdough is brilliant for helping develop essential motor control skills. Manipulating dough helps to work the muscles in the hands, fingers and arms. In this invitation we used the white, vanilla scented dough and I showed Floss how to roll out the dough. Introducing the language of thin and thick is great when rolling as they can see that as they flatten the dough it gets thinner. Floss thought it was fascinating that as she rolled the shape got bigger. A good question to ask slightly older children would be – do they think there is more dough than when they started and why? You could get some interesting responses!
We used a little cutter to cut out star shapes. Fine motor control and hand-eye co-ordination are needed to be able to cut shapes out of the dough. You need to use the correct amount of pressure to be able to cut through the dough and this helps to build their hand strength. We then used the SumBlox to match up the number of stars to the numeral. I love counting with movable objects as this is a great strategy for making your counting accurate. Floss doesn’t recognise the numerals yet (apart from 2), but she really enjoys rhythmic counting.
Sometimes certain parts of a child’s hand can be under or over developed. For example when using a games console controller for extended periods of time children can have over developed thumb control and strength at the detriment to the rest of the hand. This can result in difficulty in performing the tripod grip needed for writing. Phone and tablets use a swipe action which means the index finger can become over developed compared to other fingers. Using a range of tools with playdough works lots of different muscles. Getting tools that need to be held and used in different ways can really help to ensure whole hand development. They can be purpose bought tools, but raiding your kitchen draws can be just as good. Often tools leave behind interesting patterns, which leads to more learning. I used lots of different words to describe the marks – bumpy, holey, rough, bobbled, waffled, wavy and more. We also counted some of the marks that were left behind. Thanks for reading – new post up next week. I would recommend adult supervision with activities and take care to ensure the items you are using are suitable for your child in both age and development.