Have you noticed all the cool new toys our kids have at their disposal? Long gone are the days where a child had to choose between lincoln logs or legos. Just do a quick search on Amazon for blocks and there are 48K+ results. Talk about decision fatigue. The good news is that there are many options for toys that develop a child’s fine motor skills. These are the skills needed to move our muscles in fine and dextrous movements. Some examples of fine motor skill uses are writing, drawing, typing, shoe lace tying, tweezing etc. We use fine motor skills on a daily basis and it is important to master these fine movements as we develop in to socially integrated adults. Now, I am not an occupational therapist, however as a parent and a licensed speech therapist, I have been able to learn a thing or two about how to develop these skills. Here are our (my 4 year old and mine) top three favorite building block toys for fine motor skills.
Basic Wooden Blocks
Wooden blocks are so versatile and my son loves to use them for building large scale things like buildings or roads. Similar to railroad building, these blocks force the child to focus deeply at the task at hand which is a great skill to practice. In terms of motor skills, these large blocks require the use of both gross and fine motor skills. The child has to use strength to lift the larger type of blocks and then switches to using fine motor muscle control when they have to lay the blocks just right so as not to topple over their entire project. So great if you have the space for these wooden blocks. We like to take advantage of our local libraries’ large collection of these guys.
My son absolutely loves these colorful magnetic Picasso tiles and they are awesome for developing these fine motor skills. As opposed to simply placing blocks one on top of the other, these tiles take some fine motor tact. The child must connect the thin edges of the tiles together to build intricate and color little masterpieces. This takes far more skill than just the use of fine muscle movement. You also have the added benefit of your child using their problem solving skills, spatial and visual relationships and creativity. Some of the things my son likes to build with these include anything from space ships to airports .
One of my pet peeves about Legos is that there are so many little tiny parts and not enough will to pick all of them up at the end of the day. Duplo Legos, however, are large enough that they won’t get swallowed up by the carpet when it’s time to pick up. I also find that these larger Legos are more appropriate for my four year old. He asks for less assistance and gets frustrated less with these because they are at his age level. If you think about it, how much fine motor skills building is a child doing when you (mom or dad) are doing all the lego building? Zero! It’s always important to find age appropriate toys where the child can do their best work with the least assistance. They may not be as intricate as the smaller legos, but they still require dexterity and attention to detail when putting together cranes, pulleys, little people and so much more.