Arts and Craft Ideas To Improve Fine and Gross Motor Skills

toddler coloringToddlers learn about their world by using their senses, manipulating objects and experimenting.  Toddlerhood is marked by an explosion of development in all areas, including fine motor skills, or “hand skills”.  One fun way to promote fine motor skills every day (and on Valentine’s Day in particular) is through crafts!

Here is a short, craft-friendly guide to fine motor milestones:

  • Scribbling and making horizontal or vertical lines – 2 years old
  • Squeezing out glue – 2 years old (though squeezing out an appropriate amount of glue is a skill that will not develop until much later!)
  • Snipping with scissors – 2 ½ years old (with constant supervision!)
  • Drawing circles and a rough cross – 3 years old
  • Stringing large beads – 3 years old
  • Cutting on a line – 3 ½ years old

Unless you are hoping for updated living room walls, your toddler will need constant supervision, direction and demonstration throughout all of these projects.  When these tasks are completed, everyone’s heart will be warmed when you see your child beaming with pride at what has been created.

A few fun and simple craft projects to try with your toddler this Valentine’s Day:

  • Make a valentine for family members, classmates, or neighbors.  Young toddlers will be satisfied with simple tools such as finger paints or crayons.  Older children may want to add glitter, stamps, or stickers.
  • Create a keepsake by making a handprint flower.  Paint your child’s hand one solid color and applying even pressure press the painted hand down on paper.  Together, paint a green stem under the handprint.  Paint your child’s thumbs green and press down on the stem in various spots to create the leaves. (Note: this will be difficult for children younger than 2 years old.)
  • Create a “love book.”  Ask your child to name different things, people, ideas and places that he loves.  Write his exact words on separate pieces of paper, and have your child draw a picture (or color in a picture) of his different statements.  Bind the book together when he is finished.
  • Make a “love bug.”  Prep work: cut out various sizes, shapes and colors of hearts using construction paper.  Glue the hearts together in bug forms.  For example, heart wings, a small heart head,  a large heart body, or several small hearts in a line could be the body of caterpillar.  Draw on the antennae, eyes, nose, and mouth.
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