Playgrounds are great for gross motor skills, but fine motor skills are just as important. Fine motor skills are important everyday tasks, such as reaching, grasping, and hand-eye coordination.
Here are four fun outdoor activities to target those fine motor skills:
Playing with Chalk
Chalk is one of my favorite items, and I always keep it packed in my therapy bag. There are so many different ways to use chalk to target fine motor skills, hand strength, and even sensory processing.
- Use broken small pieces of chalk to practice grasping, similar to the benefits of using broken crayons to develop a mature grasp pattern in school. Use those small pieces to practice drawing and imitating different shapes or letters. Doing this activity laying down on your stomach helps target core and shoulder strength.
- Make a sensory pathway with chalk, and use actions like hopping, spinning, frog jumps, or balancing to get all the sensory processes working.
Instead of painting on paper, try painting on rocks. This is a fun opportunity to have your child explore and try to find different rocks at the park or in your yard. Use different types of paint brushes or even Q-tips to paint.
Once finished, you’ll have beautiful creations to put in a garden or on your porch. Other fine motor skills included in painting rocks include opening and closing the paint container as well as improving grasp and dexterity from holding paint brushes. Painting through different mediums is a great way to reach those fine motor skills in a multi-sensory way.
Create a Garden
Creating a small garden is a fun way to tune fine motor skills, but also an educational activity. Have your child practice digging and scooping in the dirt, and water the garden using a spray bottle to build hand strength and maintain an open web space needed for handwriting.
A fun adaptation would be to find small toys or mini erasers and hide them in the garden. Your child has to try to find those items in the dirt incorporating some messy sensory play like digging and scooping working to build those fine motor skills. Next, use the hose or a bucket of water to give those toys a bath with soap and water! In addition to fine motor skills and bilateral coordination, this targets life skills!
Create your own scavenger hunt outside. Explore your surroundings and see what you can find. Have your child try to find different things like sticks, pine cones, acorns, etc. and brainstorm ways to create with them.Try using the sticks to form shapes and letters, make a bird feeder with pinecones, or even paint your findings. Scavenger hunts are a great way to work on problem solving, visual scanning, and getting those hands moving. Find different items outside to provide hands with sensory input through different textures. Scavenger hunts helps promote fine motor development, specifically hand-eye coordination.
For more occupational therapy crafts and activities check out my Instagram page @OT_Room.
Hi! My name is Andrea Doumar. I am a pediatric occupational therapist from New Jersey and work in a public school with children of all ages. I have also worked in special needs preschool and outpatient pediatrics. I attended Seton Hall University for both my undergraduate and graduate degree. Let’s Go Pirates! I love working with children and sharing my ideas with others. I recently got engaged to my college sweetheart who is a physical therapist. When I am not working, I enjoy going to the beach, taking pictures, and creating projects with my cricut!