Saturday, February 4, 2012

Fine Motor Development in Young Children

Welcome to the WORLD OF Fine Motor FUN!!!!!

How exciting to be a part of the huge link-up sponsored by Deborah over at Teach Preschool!!
This is an issue very near and dear to my heart -- on so many levels!!!

I will tell you right now, that I do indeed have a bias on this issue and I'll share that shortly.
I have been clicking away, taking LOTS of photos on this topic to share!!

So here we go.................... let's get started!

Let's take a look at what fine motor development looks like over time!

Here's a bulletin board I saw last spring at the Early Childhood Education Program 
on our US Army Base at Camp Darby in ITALY!!!! 
Yes, I had a two week tour to FOUR European Army bases last spring!!!!!
[Here are the 45 blog posts on those insights.
Here are the 18 blog posts on my day in Reggio Emilia, Italy.]

How brilliant is this bulletin board idea pictured in the collage above? 
Use the work of the children in your program to illustrate this progression.
What an AWESOME way to help parents see what comes next!

So how do we help children along this progression? 

Magic Markers at the Easel for Open Ended Possibilities and Exploration
I was just recently in Thibodaux, Louisiana and was able to see the children as they arrived for the morning to their classrooms. The children walked in the door and went over to the tables to 'sign-in' for the morning. Simple notebooks had been placed on the tables with pre-written names to 'trace'. 
Children selected a marker and got to work.
Preschool Children 'Sign-In' Upon Arrival to School

Display Examples of Fine Motor Work in the Classroom

Create Purposeful Writing Opportunities
Make "Old School" Blackboard Writing Available
Classroom Activity Trays Set up to Strengthen Fine Motor Muscles
These "Montessori-Activity Trays" were one of the choices available for self-selection in Thibodaux. Two simple bowls displayed neatly upon a tray, filled with popcorn seeds and a 'melon-ball' utensil, available from the dollar store, and you have oodles of opportunity for strengthening a 'tripod' hold --a three finger grasp, which will transfer easily to crayons, markers and ultimately pencil and pen.

My interest in strengthening Fine Motor stems from many places: 
  • as a Fine Arts Aficionado 
  • as a former elementary Art Teacher
  • as a picture book illustrator
  • as an appreciator of children's growth (GeeGee) 
  • as a listener to of teacher's frustrations
  • as a consultant + contributor to Zaner-Bloser's*  ECE curriculum

I have so much more to share on this topic, be sure to come back tomorrow for more.
The sequel. Continued. Part II.
Here's the third installment in the series.

But before you go, I need to explain my 'bias.'
Yes. I am a some-time consultant for Zaner-Bloser, the company that's been devoted to fine motor development for OVER A CENTURY is located in Columbus Ohio!!! They 'discovered' me at a Greater Columbus Arts Council's Artist in the Schools Annual Fall Show Case and went on to commission me to create the album of songs for their PreK + K programs to under-gird their Fine Motor programs. They went on to license the same 12 song back to allow me to create, "Debbie's Ditties 6: The Hand Writing Mix."

Yup. I have a vested interest and absolute bias in believing that children need to learn to develop their fine motor skills. I'm not one of those new-age-techo lovin' folks thinking all we need to do is teach key-boarding skills to every two year old. (OK so that's a tad sarcastic.) 

I've read the documentation that writing out one's thoughts is beneficial -- for creativity, for memory, for retention -- for all sorts of reasons. My friends over at ZB would LUV to tell ya more! They JUST sponsored the first national symposium on Hand Writing in Washinton DC with every expert in the field sharing from their research!!

My album for ZB contains a dozen 'handwriting' songs and dances. It starts off with the title track: "SKY-WRITING" which is full of rocket ship sound effects and robot voices to especially engage + invite young boys into Fine Motor exploration. It is my personal experience that 'boys' as a stereo-type have challenges and less motivation to conquer fine motor, so I wanted to especially reach out to them thru the various examples in the song: "you can draw me a baseball bat." 

 The simple premise behind the song is that if we can 'picture' letters in-the-sky and write them 'way-up-high' (in the air) we are more likely able to transfer them to paper later. The title track is all about playful visualization of letters.
That's a picture of teachers working on their "Slant Dance." The dance is a bit of YMCA, with some Macarena-feel and a slight reminder of the 'Chicken Dance.' Easy to do, memorable and brings our physicality to the making of strokes.
Here's a YouTube from my very favorite song on the album. You'll LUV it. I promise and be singing it in your sleep! Print directionality!!

I have a promo code opportunity for a discount, whenever you order my materials on the web. If you use the term "Great" (grass roots efforts are terrific) at check out you will receive a 10% discount on your order
Then please tell others you think my products are GREAT!!!

So I will continue to wander in and out of classrooms looking for amazing photos of happy fine motor to share!! AND OF COURSE I have an ENORMOUS collection of hundreds of pins/links over on Pinterest of all things Fine Motor. In fact, I just opened it to collaboration so it will be growing + growing!!!

LAST NIGHT I opened a whole can of worms and asked if teachers 'fix' the artwork of their students. I even have a "whistle-blower" on the subject. Keep scrolling down to yesterday to read that AMAZING article. Here's that link.  And all of this fervor has grown out of my article over at our collaborative blog, PreK + K Sharing -- over the article I wrote about the difference between process and product in Children's Art.

Talk about PASSION!

-                                                                   -- Debbie --

This article was added to the blog hop at Fridge-worthy Friday.

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Thanks for your support! I am so appreciative of your pins!

Thanks for your support! I am so appreciative of your pins!
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