Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Fine Motor Activities for Toddlers: Store Bought

Toddlers are always looking for something to play with, whether it means getting into the “no-nos” or playing with toys in the toy box or playroom. As parents, I’m sure you are always thinking of something for your little one to do as well as an activity that challenges his development while he is growing and learn each day.

I wrote an article, “Homemade Fine Motor Activities for Toddlers” over a year ago, which was full of fun and educational ideas you could make at home. This article includes even more fine motor activities that are fun, educational and relatively inexpensive. 

Fine Motor?
First I’ll define what fine motor means: Fine motor skills are tasks that utilize the small muscles of the body like those in the fingers. Toddlers at around a year of age are usually able to perform fine motor skills like holding a cup, grasping a spoon, picking up chunks of food and putting small objects into a larger container. Usually at this age, there is not that much involvement of the thumb.

As your child develops closer to the age of two years, his fine motor skills will increase. These skills include tasks like drawing with a crayon, using a fork or spoon with more precision and stacking small objects like blocks.

Closer to three and four years of age, children begin to master fine motor skills like zipping, snapping, buttoning clothing. In addition, drawing and writing skills show marked improvements.

CAUTION NOTE: Keep in mind some of these toys sets can be a choking hazard. Little ones like to put toys in their mouth. It is important to keep a close eye on them while they are playing with these toy sets.

The activities listed below focus on fine motor skills. It also encourages the little ones to learn how to share. I let them build to their hearts content and use their imagination. It’s also an opportunity to count and say what colors the pieces are.

Here is the list of store bought fine motor activities I find educational and fun for toddlers:

  •  Shape Focused Toys

Wooden building blocks  age: 1 ½ - preschoolers

You could find wooden building blocks in any toy store.

Tupperware © shape sorter ball    age: 1 ½ - preschoolers

I ordered these years ago from Tupperware. I’m sure Tupperware still sells it. It’s a ball with little shapes that fit into its designated slot on the ball. The shapes fall inside the ball. When all is done and the little wants to play again, the ball opens up to let the shapes fall out.

Shape Sorter box   age: 1 ½ - preschoolers

You can find a variety shape sorter sets online through sites listed below or in toy stores.

I have a similar wooden shape sorter box. The top of the box has a wooden lid with shaped slots and individual wooden shaped blocks for each slot. After all shaped blocks are placed through each slot; the lid can be lifted out and replaced to sort the blocks in each slot again.

  • More Fine Motor Connecting Activities:
When shopping around for fine motor activities, remember to think, “Small fingers and toddler age.” Would they be able to work with these toys? Are they easy for their little fingers to manipulate and connect on their own?

Large Legos        age: 1 ½ - preschoolers

You can find these at any toy store.

I particularly like Legos that are big. Find some that are easy to manipulate with multiple sizes for the little ones to connect on their own. Also, it’s a good idea to purchase enough supply for three or four little ones to share.

Smaller Legos & More Building Fun    Age: preschoolers

The smaller Legos are fun to build and be creative with their imaginations. I suggest keeping these smaller Legos separate from infants and toddlers.

Pegs with Pegboards age: 1 ½ - three year
You can find pegboard sets online through educational websites listed below or in toy stores.

I found large plastic pegs and cushion like peg boards with holes/slots to stick the pegs inside. I suggest getting enough supply for the little ones to share. See if you can get pegs that have an assortment of different colors. The little ones can get creative with these pegs. They like to stick them in the holes of the peg boards and pretend it’s a birthday cake. They like to connect them together and pretend it’s a magical wand or a sword. They like to see how long the stack can get. Sometimes they like to stick the pegs on their fingers to pretend they have long figure nails. It’s a fun way to encourage counting and color recognition.

Bristle Blocks              age: one year - preschoolers

You can find these online through sites listed below or in any toy store
These blocks are easy to manipulate for little ones fingers. They could get creative using their imagination. Build a tower, a house, a little town (with help). I like that they come with little people too. This is another set to help with color recognition as well.

Pipe Builders age: preschoolers 

You can find these online through educational sites listed below.
My suggestion is to keep these separate from infants and toddlers. The pieces are small.

Kiddie Connects     age: one year – three year

You can find these online through sites listed below.

These are perfect for little ones to connect together. They can make a long branch, as well as add more going different directions. The little ones like to place them on the floor and make them spin as well. This is another activity that encourages color recognition.

Wooden puzzles    age: one year – preschoolers

You can find these online through educational sites listed below or in toy stores.

These puzzles have slots for the pieces to fit as it’s easy for the little ones to match the pictures. You can find all kinds of puzzles with the alphabet, numbers, shapes, farm animals, zoo animals, cars, food and many others.

Big piece puzzles  age: two year – preschoolers

You can find these online through educational sites listed below or in toy stores.

These are great fun for the older group. It’s more challenging for them to think out how the puzzle pieces fit to the picture on the box.

TinkerToy Construction Set   age: 2 ½ - preschoolers

You can find these at any toy store.

These are fun for the older group. They could build to their heart’s content using their imagination as they expand their creativity.

  • More Fine Motor Activities Not Connecting:

Car road carpet    age: two year – preschoolers

You can find carpets or mats like these through various online websites like sites listed below. Search under carpet road map for kids, learning carpets, or giant road kids play rug.

This is fun for the older group. They could drive little toy cars or “Hot Wheels” around the little town. They could pretend they are taking a trip, driving around town to meet friends, or going to the store.

Magnets   age: one year - preschoolers
You can find a variety of different types of magnets online through educational websites like sites listed below or in toy stores.

There are so many types of magnets for little ones. Think “large and easy to grab on to” when shopping around. These are great to use on the refrigerator or a magnetic board.

I also found “Magnet Gears” online through . The interchangeable pieces slide together easily. The little ones simply stick the gears onto a magnetic surface, fit them together any way they like, and then turn one of the built-in handles to set the whole colorful creation in motion!

Color with crayons      age: one year – two year

You can find large or jumbo size crayons online from sites listed below and in toy stores.

These crayons are perfectly sized for little hands to hold onto while they are coloring or making marks. They don’t have the paper wrapped around them either.

Regular crayons     age: preschoolers

As the little ones get familiar in how to hold a writing instrument, they are ready to use the smaller crayons with more variety of colors. You can collect a variety of coloring books as well.

Toddler train set  age: 2 ½ - preschoolers

You can find these sets online through sites listed below and in toy stores.

This is another fun way to encourage fine motor skills for the older group. They might need help in putting the tracks together.

My favorite educational websites for toys:
Kaplan Early Learning Company
Toys R Us

Hope you find this article helpful,

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