Raise your hand if you are seeing an increase in fine motor difficulties with your students. I am. The teachers I work with have also commented on the lack of fine motor skills in their students. Some of this seems to be a lack of exposure (e.g. never used scissors before), and for some it seems to be true fine motor delays. It goes without saying that if you have concerns with a child’s fine motor skills, they should see an Occupational Therapist (OT), and you should follow their plan. I’m not an OT, but these are some tricks I’ve learned while working with OTs over the years. Here are simple ways to make speech therapy more fine motor friendly.
Using playdough can increase finger strength and coordination. Playdough is so versatile in the speech room. So get out your playdough and do some free play or pull out those smash mats
Snap your crayons.
Smaller crayons will help children have a more proper grip when colouring, writing or drawing. If the thought of snapping crayons makes you want to run and hide, then you can buy various “crayon rocks” or other smaller crayons. Golf pencils can work well for older students or when you want to use a pencil.
Use vertical surfaces.
Another way to make speech therapy more fine motor friendly is by getting children doing activities on vertical surfaces. So use your walls and whiteboards in speech.
Add beads at the back of flat manipulatives.
Beads will help children pick up flat manipulatives, reducing frustration when students are moving them around. Beads will make flat manipulatives 3D, which are easier to move around.
Use tongs, spoons, and cups in sensory bins.
Using these can help with finger strength and can help with eating skills. Have students find things in your sensory bin or just let them scoop.
If you are interested in some ways to work with OTs, check out this post. What are your favourite ways to make speech therapy more fine motor friendly?