A place to share ideas about play in a Prep classroom

Posts tagged ‘fine motor skills’

Domino Fall Down

After watching some Youtube videos of the domino effect in our Virtual Classroom, we were inspired to try it for ourselves.

We started by lining our dominoes up in a single line.







Next we tried doubling up some of the dominoes in the line.















It requires a lot of mathematical understandings, fine motor coordination, thinking and problem solving skills to place the dominoes in “just the right spot.” Success was always short but sweet.







What I really liked about this whole experience was how self motivating and engaging it was. With each success the children set themselves a more difficult challenge. They experimented with using different shapes and lines.















They explored their creations from all kinds of perspectives.





Their persistence was amazing. When something didn’t work, they discussed and problem solved solutions………



















tested their theories……….











until successful, and whilst the success was sweet, the process was better.

Messy Monday and Dinosaurs

Today’s Messy Monday had an extra twist due to the children’s current interest in all things dinosaur. We read and acted out the story Bumpus Jumpus Dinosaurumpus by Tony Mitton to get us in a “dinosaurumpusy” mood and afterwards talked about looking for dinosaurs. We told the children that there were dinosaurs ready to be discovered in a variety of places in the playground  including a swamp and some polar ice caps and sent them on a journey of discovery.

Hmmmm, puzzled at first, it wasn’t long before some children found a green goopy swamp with a variety of dinosaurs ready to be dug out.








Other dinosaur detectives went in search of polar ice caps and what was hidden inside them. They were a bit hard to find but once located, our intrepid paelentologists found it requires lots of patience and fine motor strength to dig dinosaurs out of the ice.
























Success at last!







To make the ice, some coffee and sugar were dissolved in water and a thin layer of this mixture was frozen.  Next the dinosaurs were added with another layer of the coffee and sugar mixture poured on top. We used spoons and paddle pop sticks as tools.

Under the trees, dinosaurs were being pressed into playdough to create fossil stamps for printing.








On top of the climbing frame a dinosaurumpus was happening, with the children stomping and clomping the dinosaur feet, claws and horns they had made.










































Ice, paint, goop and masking tape, along with our usual bubbles etc. make for another Messy Monday full of fun and learning.

Learning Statements –

Social and Personal Learning

Fine Motor Skills

Imagining and Responding

Investigating Environments


D is for Dragonfly

 As the year has progressed I have been introducing  Observational Art activities to the children. During these sessions we have looked at real objects and discussed how they could be drawn. The purpose being to give the children opportunities to look at objects and visually dissect them. We observe the shapes of not just the whole but different parts of the object, their position and size, colour and patterns. Based on these observations the children draw the object. Today, instead of an object, we looked at   Dragonfly by Harry Hart, who is the grandson of the iconic Pro Hart. This painting is an interpretation of one with the same title, painted by his grandfather.

I began the session by putting an image of Dragonfly up on the Interactive Whiteboard.  The children sat in front of the IWB and had brown paper and, at this stage, just a pencil to draw with. We looked at the position, size and patterning of the eyes and the shape of the dragonfly’s body. When they were ready, the children began to draw.


 Next we looked at the wings and realised that the artist has only painted 2 wings instead of 4. We decided that as this was an observational drawing of the painting we would draw only 2 wings as well. We observed and drew the almost leaf like patterning on the wings. We then looked at the position and shape of the legs and antenna, counted and drew them.


With the main image now complete, we observed the other details of the painting, including the ants in the background and where the artist signed his work. We used a fine point black ink pen to draw the ants.

We observed that the ants had 3 body parts, 6 legs and antennae. We didn’t count how many ants there were. The children drew a minimum of 10 and many children drew more.


Once they were happy with their drawing, the outline of the dragonfly and their signature were drawn over in ink. Oil pastels were then used to colour their drawing, using their observation skills freely. The children were very engaged in the whole process and proud of their final result. Here are some examples.






Learning Statements-

Fine Motor Skills


Oral Language

Early Maths Understandings

Wonderful Weaving

Weaving is a great activity for developing fine motor skills and eye hand coordination. As the year has progressed so too have my preppies skills in this area. To challenge these skills we did some free weaving using textured wools, ribbons and pipe cleaners through metallic honeycomb mesh. The children found this quite tricky as the holes in the mesh are small but they were very persistent and really proud of their achievement.  The mesh is readily available to the children on the collage trolley and now they often weave things through it to add to their creations.




An easier way to do this activity would be to use a bodkin. To display their weaving, we hung them from a piece of tulle over the ceiling fan, using more ribbon.

Leaf Threading with help from a Very Hungry Caterpillar

The natural beauty of the garden and playground offers many and varied opportunities for children to think, create, imagine and develop motor skills. The large trees in our school are losing some of their leaves for winter (we don’t really have autumn here in Qld.) The children began collecting these leaves and, using sticks, tried to thread them. Unsuccessfully. Next they tried using long grass but found it difficult to make holes/cuts in the leaves to thread the grass through. One of the children said “we need the hungry caterpillar.” and so………never one to miss an opportunity to enhance fine motor skills, that afternoon I quickly glued some pom poms, eyes and a pipe cleaner onto some hole punches and our Very Hungry Caterpillar Hole Punches were born!

I was a bit concerned about how well the pom poms would stay on but the children didn’t want to “squash” the caterpillar and so, by using just the  end of the hole punch, their finger strength and control was really challenged to get the caterpillar to bite into the leaves.








The next day, the children were very engaged in “feeding the hungry caterpillars” outside, punching holes in all the leaves they could find. For awhile their focus was on seeing how many bites they could put in a leaf which meant lots of finger strengthening, counting and discussion about the size and shape of the leaves. They experimented with folding some of the softer leaves to see what would happen and talked about symmetry not just in the leaves, but with their bite holes as well.

Once their curiosity was satisfied the children selected the leaves they wanted to use for threading and set to work. It took a lot of eye-hand coordination and concentration to thread the long leaves and grass through the holes and their persistence was amazing.

This experience demonstrates the importance of allowing children to be free to  explore their own ideas and for we the adults, to value, assist, and support them. The simple addition of the hole punches provided the children with the tools, and making them into caterpillars’ based upon a child’s idea, was a further provocation to enhancing their personal learning, fine motor, thinking and investigating skills in a real and valid way through their experimentation with leaf threading. This is how I love to teach, and tick the reporting boxes  …………by using the children’s ideas and interests through a child negotiated curriculum.

Learning Statements –

Investigating the Natural World

Fine Motor Skills

Imagining and Responding


Where the Wild Things Are – Clay Creations

“The night Max wore his wolf suit………..” is the beginning of the much loved book Where the Wild Things Are. A book we have been exploring over the past few weeks and which has stimulated lots of opportunities for the children to be imaginative and creative. We have acted out the story using props and paper wild things, retold it using puppets, created a forest and masks and had our own rumpus using musical instruments and also used clay to create our own wild things. This is the first in a series of posts about these experiences.







Prior to making our clay creations we had many discusiions about the illustrations in the book, looking at the kinds of body parts and features of the “wild things”. We noticed that all of them had 2 legs but the legs were very different in size, shape and covering. We observed that their heads were very different, as were their bodies, and that some had tails and some didn’t. We looked at all the similarities and differences and using this prior knowledge, began creating their own wild things, out of the clay.







I wanted the children to make their wild thing without adding pieces ( because these tend to fall off when dry) so each child was given quite a large piece of fairly soft, air drying clay and  decided which way up they wanted it to be.   I discussed with each child what ideas they had for their “wild thing” and nearly all the children wanted to have 2 legs although some had none, 1 child made his quite flat and another child wanted 3 legs. The children found “karate chopping” the base in the centre was the easiest way to mould the clay for legs. Once they were happy with the legs, with or without feet and claws, they shaped the body, making decisions about arms, wings, shape and size. Sometimes they shaped the head before deciding on body features and sometimes the head was part of the body. It was up to them what they wanted, I viewed my role in this process as a sounding board for their ideas.

The head was the focus of lots of conversations, as they considered the kind of head and features they wanted. Usually, children make the head first when drawing, so it was interesting to observe how they went about this experience with the head being one of the last things to be made. Sometimes the children found they needed to modify the body to ensure they had enough clay for the head. So the whole creative process involved a lot of thinking and problem solving.

This "wild thing" has stripes.









Once they were happy with the shape of their wild things, the children used a pencil to create texture and add more features.


Once they were air dry, the children wanted to paint their wild things………. with yellow eyes of course, so Max could stare into them and tame them! (I had initially planned to leave them unpainted but the children really wanted to paint them.)









Here are some of the finished Wild Things.














Learning Statements-

Imagining and Responding


Fine Motor Skills

Social and Personal Learning

Patterning with Picasso the Green Tree Frog

Earlier in the year we had the pleasure of raising some tadpoles and watching them grow and change into frogs. One of the stories we read during this process was Picasso the Green Tree Frog. This story is a favourite of mine not just because  its a full of fun but also because it demonstrates to children that life is full of changes and that changes can be for better or for worse depending on your perspective.




In the story Picasso has some fun with jelly beans and this can be a great stimulus for sorting and patterning, colour recognition and cutting skills. When I read this story I use  my frog puppet to discuss where green tree frogs live and the children like to make a tree for my puppet to live in and this is where the fun begins.

Once Picasso is in his tree the children love to make jelly beans for him. As a small group activity, the children choose some coloured jellybeans drawn on paper and cut them out. The children then make a pattern using 2 or 3 colours and repeat it, stapling them onto green crepe paper. These are then hung up, and before you know it, Picasso has a very colourful tree full of jelly beans and the children have practiced sorting colours and, creating and repeating patterns.







To add to the fine motor practice the children can also cut out their own frogs and scrunch crepe paper into little balls to glue on, to make their own Picasso. We have also scrunched and glued coloured crepe paper onto coloured paddle pop sticks to make the caterpillar at the end of the story.

Learning Statements-

Early Maths Understandings

Fine Motor Skills


Imagining and Responding

Let your Imagination run Wild! Recycling + Open Ended Experience = Rollercoaster FUN!!!

Here is a way to recycle corn starch beads, enhance fine motor skills, encourage thinking and simply let your imagination run wild!

The children started constructing in this open ended experience and all of a sudden there were…………. rollercoasters!!!!!!

These wonderous beads just need to be dampened with a wet sponge to stick together.


Under Construction!


"There is still room for some secret passages." says Harry


"You get to the end and then go backwards to the start." by Conor

"It goes round and up and down." by Alex


"This is like the one I had a ride on at the fete." by TJ

Rollercoasters + Recycling= FUN!

Prep Learning Statements covered-

  • Imagining and Responding
  • Thinking
  • Understanding Environments
  • Fine Motor Skills

Sensory Tub Counting Search

Lots of my children are very kineasthetic learners and so I have used sensory tubs to practice our counting. Currently in our tubs are corn starch beads used in packaging boxes. Amongst these beads are hidden 20 zoo animals. (These were chosen because of our current construction of a zoo.) The children love to search through the tub and find the animals. I also have some laminated cards with numbered squares up to 20 to assist them in counting. The children can place an animal in each square, which assists with 1 to 1 correspondence and numeral recognition as well as engaging in conversations about how many have been found and how many are left to find.


I have at least 4 of these made up at any one time.


These are up to 20 but you can make it for any number and groupings.








The use of these tubs is endless and I will post more ideas as we use them in the classroom.

Some of the Learning Statements covered include-

Early Maths Understandings

Fine Motor Skills

Active Learning Processes

Reading and Viewing

Oral Language