You may be asking, “Why does it matter that kindergarteners develop solid fine motor skills?” or “Why use fine motor boxes in the kindergarten classroom?” These are valid questions that I hope to clarify for you in this post.
First of all, we have heard it said many times that kindergarten now is not what it used to be. This is very true on so many levels. We have students that enter with Pre-K under their belts and others without any formal school experience at all. Nevertheless, the current curriculum for kindergarten is quite demanding and requires the execution of fine motor skills all day long. We also live in a society where technology is the go-to and therefore many students begin their education with under-developed fine motor skills from lack of exposure and practice.
As a school occupational therapist who has been involved in supporting the general education classrooms via RTI, the lack of these vital skills is often the identified barrier to the child’s successful learning experience. Furthermore, there are students who just need more practice and continued development of hand strength and coordination skills. Oftentimes, these students receive no supportive services at school.
I feel strongly that the answer, at least in part, is by equipping kindergarten classrooms with fine motor boxes that can be used on a daily basis in a variety of ways as determined by the classroom teacher. The consistency of exposure combined with the varying fine motor challenges will help all students to either acquire or build the skills needed to be a more successful and independent kindergartener. As a bonus from using the boxes consistently, students will gain the necessary skills and thus fewer will need OT intervention.
Below is an overview of initial training that I conducted with kindergarten teachers in one of my districts in an effort to introduce them to the concept. The use of the FMBs was well-received and later initiated.
WHAT?The Fine Motor Box (FMB) is a container (a hefty toolbox works great) with at least 20 different numbered activities to promote increased fine motor skills in kindergarten students. An instruction manual that provides explicit steps on how to perform each task is critical to help staff implement the activities correctly. Most activities can be housed in separate baggies or small containers/pouches to store the items for each task.
WHY?The overarching purpose of the FMB is to develop crucial fine motor skills for K students that will impact overall classroom hand manipulation, dexterity, & strength to improve handwriting, cutting, and adaptive skills.
WHO?The FMB is designed for all students in your classroom. From an RTI perspective, it can be a tool used on all 3 tiers as follows:
Tier 1- whole class use by way of morning work, centers, or daily 5 rotation either every day or 2-3 times per week withallstudents receiving the same amount of time using the FMB.
Tier 2- identified student(s), go through the task rotation(s) more frequently than other students.
Tier 3- identified student works specifically on certain tasks at a designated time every day.
WHEN?Each teacher will schedule the use of the FMB differently. Some suggestions: morning work, daily 5 rotation, centers, or as a pre-writing task.
HOW?To start this process, explore the boxes to identify the contents and review the manual that corresponds to each task, try them yourself so you can demonstrate to your students how to do them. Just pick a few to show them each day. OT is an available resource to assist you as needed.
Now, who is ready for some kindergarten fine motor boxes this coming school year? Be proactive and initiate a plan to get them integrated into your district!
*For more information about how I designed and implemented my district’s FMBs, email Natalie Grooms, OTR/L firstname.lastname@example.org