Fine Motor exercises are an important part of any child’s curriculum and learning experience.
Learning how to control your hands and refining those hand muscles help a child learn how to do important, every day life skills like feeding, wiping, zippering, and tying shoes.
Because many students who receive special education services often have delays in fine motor abilities, it is part of our job to make practicing these super important skills in a way that is fun and engaging for our students.
Enter: Finger Gym.
Welcome to the SPED Connection, a collection of tips and tricks from other special educators all over the world. Because we’re all in this together!
Today’s tip comes from Carley, a second year, middle school, self-contained special education teacher in South Carolina. Born and raised in Texas, she graduated from Texas A&M.
Carley is the teacher behind SPED Head. She is passionate about teaching daily living skills to her sweet students. She loves to integrate fine motor exercises, called “Finger Gym”, into her daily classroom schedule.
Finger gym is part of our daily rotations, where we practice and improve our fine motor development. Each day all of my students participate, and the activities are switched out every afternoon.
We have tons of fun exercising our fingers every school day, and it’s so easy to start up by using objects laying around your house and classroom.
Tight on time during each school day? Learn how Mrs. D incorporates Fine Motor Friday.
Since we change the Finger Gym activities daily, we need a TON of supplies. Fine motor supplies can add up fast, however, I utilize supplies that I already have in my classroom… supplies you probably have in your classroom already too!
If you’re just starting out, here are some basic supplies to set up Finger Gym:
- Iris Photo Craft Keeper Boxes
- Jumbo Tweezers
- Colored Squeezer Tweezers
- Craft and Other Supplies
I buy almost all of my supplies from the Dollar Tree or Target Dollar Spot, and I find that the transparent IRIS boxes make finding what we need so easy.
I keep the tweezers and tools in a fine motor toolbox (another Dollar Tree find). Students love to dig through the tweezers toolbox to find the right tool for the job.
In addition to all of these supplies, I have picked up different trays from the Goodwill.
I use the tray with three compartments the most.
A fan favorite in my classroom is sorting black and white beans. I start with the beans in the middle compartment, then have the students separate them out to each side. This one is time consuming and can also serve as a great compliance task!
I wanted to share some examples of our favorite Finger Gym activities. I try to keep all of the Finger Gym activities on plastic trays to keep small pieces from ending up on the floor.
Here, we put golf tees into a styrofoam block and students try to balance marbles on top. This one is a bit trickier, so we usually start students off by having them use their fingers before working up to tweezers.
Next, we use the same Styrofoam block with toothpicks. Students string pony beads onto each toothpick. They can sort by color or create patterns on each toothpick.
How easy and fun is this?!
You would be shocked at how long students can entertain themselves with these easy supplies.
I also like to incorporate seasonal activities into our Finger Gym. During the fall, students will move pumpkin seeds from a tray to a cup. In the winter, students will drop red and green pom-poms into a clear, plastic ornament.
Next month, students will go hunting for bugs. They will look through the fake grass patch to find some creepy-crawlers. My students loved this one last year! I found all of the supplies at, you guessed it, the Dollar Tree.
Obviously, I spend way too much money there. Anyone else?
Hair rollers make one of our favorite tasks. The students get such a kick out of assembling the foam rollers.
The broom and dust pan are an easy task, and such fantastic practice of a functional life skill. We have students tear tickets and pretend like they work in a movie theatre, making it a great vocational task too. They then sweep up the tickets.
If you want to start up your finger gym, just take a look around and see what you can find.
I promise you already have enough supplies to run several weeks of Finger Gym in your own classroom!
What questions do you have about Finger Gym?