Fine motor activities are important for many reasons in kindergarten. We know that students need them for cutting, learning how to tie their shoes, and so much more! Fine motor activities are also important for emergent writing. Here are three big reasons that fine motor activities are so important to emerging writers.
#1: Fine Motor Muscles
Have you ever tried completing an exercise that your body was just NOT ready for? Maybe an exercise program called for you to do 20 standard push-ups, but you had not done any upper body exercises in a while! It would feel too difficult, you would get frustrated, and you may even give up on the workout altogether. That is, unless you chose to use a modifier (like push-ups on your knees). A modifier would allow you to work those same muscles, but in a way that was less intimidating.
Now consider emergent writers who do not have a lot of experience using a pencil. They more than likely feel that same frustration when their fine motor muscles aren’t ready for holding a pencil with the proper grip for extended periods of time. This is where fine motor activities for emergent writers come into play! Just like in our earlier scenario where we talked about modifying an exercise, we can use modified types of activities to build those same fine motor muscles, without the high frustration level with our students.
For example, students can use small tongs to move small objects like pom poms. The grip that they use with the tongs is very similar to the grip they use with a pencil. However, it is a little less difficult because they are opening and closing the tongs, rather than using a continuous grip like they would with a pencil. As a result, they are building their fine motor muscles and getting those muscles ready for writing!
#2: Letter Recognition/Formation
Another reason that fine motor activities are so important for emergent writing is because they can give students exposure to letters and letter formation. There are so many different fine motor activities that you can assign when focusing on letters. Students can build letters with playdough, dot the letter formations with Q-Tips and paint, and even use pom poms (as mentioned earlier) to make the shapes of different letters.
With each activity, students observe letters and become more and more familiar with the lines and curves that make up each letter. Essentially, it paves the way for writing and using letters in more meaningful ways as students progress through the writing stages.
#3: Letter/Sound Correspondence
Another huge benefit of using fine motor activities for emergent writers is that it can be a fun way to build a foundation of letter/sound correspondence. After students use a Q-Tip to paint the shape of letters, you can continue the activity by having students also paint a picture that starts with the sound that the letter makes. For example, if you have had students dot the letter “Bb”, you could also have them use a Q-Tip to dot paint the shape of a banana.
Through this activity, students begin making the connection between the letter “B,” and the sound heard at the beginning of the word banana. It sets the stage for using letters to represent beginning sounds, as they move from emergent writing to the transitional stage.
Emergent writers need a lot of scaffolding to get from using drawings and letter-like forms to using real letters with purpose. They also need to fine tune their hand muscles in order to keep their frustration level low when moving into writing real letters. Fine motor activities can provide a solution for both, as students gain exposure to letter formation, letter/sound correspondence, and fine motor skills in a fun and engaging way!
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