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  • Tearing Tissue, And Other Activities That Build Your Toddler's Fine Motor Skills

    This teacher mom recommends simple learning activities you can do with your toddler.
    by Grace Bautista .
Tearing Tissue, And Other Activities That Build Your Toddler's Fine Motor Skills
PHOTO BY SHUTTERSTOCK
  • When parents think of learning activities, we often imagine the alphabet, coloring books, number charts, and worksheets. But for toddlers, preschool teacher and mom, Jojie Jugo-Velasco, says that we should start with what they love to do – play!

    Through a Zoom interview with Smart Parenting, Teacher Jojie shared these five simple, fun activities that could help toddlers build essential pre-reading and pre-writing skills.

    5 activities that build your toddler's fine motor skills

    Paper tearing

    This immensely enjoyable activity for curious toddlers actually helps the development of fine motor skills like hand strength, pincer grasp, hand-eye coordination and bilateral coordination (or the ability to use the left and right sides of the body together). While there needs to be no big goal for paper tearing other than the sheer fun of doing it, you could also create nice artwork with your toddler’s torn paper. You could create different shapes or pictures by sticking the torn pieces of paper onto a bigger piece of paper. Head over to Pinterest for lots of inspiration on how you could do this.

    Squeezing a stress ball

    Letting your toddler squeeze a stress ball helps strengthen grip and build dexterity and coordination. These are important pre-writing skills. Teacher Jojie also suggests counting to five while squeezing a stress ball so that your child could also be introduced to numbers at the same time.

    Scribbling and doodling

    Scribbling helps build hand-eye coordination and muscle control which are important pre-writing skills. For this activity, you could use a white board, bond paper or Manila paper and a marker or chunky crayons. Tape the paper onto a table or on the floor and just let your little one scribble on the board or paper. You could also tape a whole sheet of Manila paper on the wall for unlimited scribbling.

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    Playing with playdough

    Playdough exercises are great ways to help your toddler improve fine motor skills and bilateral coordination. So let your toddler roll, pound, poke, pinch and cut playdough any way they want. Playdough could be rolled into big balls or tiny balls or into long worms or short, fat sausages.

    You could use them to hide a small toy inside as a surprise that your toddler could dig out (please avoid choking hazards), or you could use some cookie cutters to make nice shapes or a toy knife or plastic scissors to cut them into pieces. All these exercises will help your toddler strengthen their hands and improve coordination, which are essential, not only to writing skills, but also to other life skills like feeding themselves and dealing with buttons, zippers and shoelaces.

    Stringing beads

    Stringing beads helps develop hand-eye coordination and builds concentration. You could also introduce colors, shapes and numbers to your toddler while doing this activity. Putting a string through a bead may be quite challenging for your toddler the first time they try it, but encourage them to try threading just a few pieces – five beads may be enough during the first try depending on how young your child is.

    As they grow and develop more hand control, they will be able to string more and more beads together, and even create patterns when they learn the different shapes and colors. These beads are available in Lazada or Shopee.

    Teacher Jojie also encourages parents to integrate learning through play and daily life activities. For example, when dressing up, you could ask your child what color their clothes are. When eating, you could teach your toddler the names of the food on their plate, or when taking a walk, you could take turns pointing at things of a certain color.

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    Toddlers learn best through play, so parents need not worry that they are not interested in worksheets yet at their age.

    Teacher Jojie graduated with a bachelor's degree in behavioral sciences, and took teaching units in Mirriam College Graduate School. She was a preschool teacher for 16 years at the Integrated School in Marikina City handling toddlers, junior nursery, senior nursery and kindergarten classes before moving to New York with her family in 2018. She is currently a stay-at-home mom who fully supports her husband's nursing career while raising her two boys who are nine and five years old.

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