Less than a week until Valentine’s Day! Today, I will be showing you some fine motor activities on my son’s shelf this year for Valentine’s Day. He is almost 23 months old and is particularly interested in lacing, threading, and pouring at the moment. He has just started working with large tweezers to transfer larger, soft items.
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- Hearts on a Stick
This one is so easy to put together yourself and can be modified to use whatever you have in your house. I used bamboo skewers I had in my kitchen for cooking, some pink, purple, and red watercolor process art my son made on 200g weight paper last week, a glue stick, a pair of scissors, and a small colander also from my kitchen. It took me about 10 minutes to make the whole thing and I can imagine making similar activities for different holidays. You could also print out a page of hearts and cut them out or if you own a cutting machine like Cricut or Silhouette, you could cut them out of colored paper on there.
I traced a heart 16 times with a red pencil onto the painted and dried paper. I cut each one out and then glued them white side to white side with the bamboo skewer in between. I can recommend pushing them together for a few seconds and applying extra pressure so the skewer sticks to the glue well.
I put them out on a tray with a small colander and my son loves it!
This activity helps with hand-eye coordination as well as training finger muscles to hold the skewer steady and straight while putting it into the holes on the colander.
- Transferring Pompoms with Tweezers
My son is just learning how to use these large tweezers (These are also a great alternative.) He is getting better and better at holding them in a way that makes it easy to open and close them with one hand. Larger soft pompoms are a great way to practice this. I bought a large bag of mixed pompoms a few months back and I store it color sorted in small bins (these are similar to what I bought). Whenever I offer a new themed shelf set-up for a holiday or season, I can then take out just the colors that apply (here red, pink, white, purple and magenta) and use them for activities. It is much cheaper than buying sets of pompoms specific to each theme.
This activity is not only helping my son get ready for using scissors, but it is also helping him train his hand for holding a pencil in a few years.
- Pouring Heart Beads
This bead set has so many uses during the month of February and has been a big hit with my son. I used the mid-sized hearts for this pouring activity, but my son would likely do well with smaller beads in the next few days since he has practice pouring beans, lentils, and rice. I chose this small metal pitcher as well as the bottom of a metal tin that previously had chocolates in it. My son loves the sound of the wooden hearts hitting the metal both when pouring the beads into the tin as well as when he pours/places the hearts back into the pitcher. I had both of these items at home, so that made the decision even easier!
This activity helps my son to turn his wrist and improve the flexibility and muscle tone as a preparation for writing in the future.
- Threading Heart Beads onto a Pipe Cleaner
Using the largest beads from the above-mentioned bead set and some red sparkly pipe cleaners left over from a set purchased at Christmas time (these are a good alternative and have a nice color mix), I made this quick beading activity. I can highly recommend using pipe cleaners for the first beading practice you offer, as they are easier to manipulate than shoelaces or other strings. Check out my post on Valentine’s Day math activities where I introduce an extension to this activity involving patterning!
This activity helps my son learn to hold the pipe cleaner like a pencil to help gain the most control and works on his hand-eye coordination to find the small hole and match that with the pipe cleaner. For younger children, use beads with larger holes and a string with a wooden end for threading.
- Tracing Lines with Fingers
These tracing strips are actually intended to be cutting practice and come from this wonderful Valentine’s Day bundle created by Little Spark Company. You can also buy them separately in this cutting practice set. We get a lot of printables from them as the artwork is always aesthetically pleasing and the intended activities are Montessori aligned. I can highly recommend taking a look at their store as well as signing up for their newsletter which gives you access to her free printables section. There are some fantastic resources there!
Since my son is not quite ready for scissors (not that I haven’t tried to introduce them multiple times), I laminated these and offered them for tracing practice. My son started by moving a pompom along the lines with one finger and now he likes to use two fingers to trace the lines over and over again.
This activity helps my son prepare for the use of sandpaper letters in the future and works on his hand muscles for writing.
- Lacing a Heart
These beautiful hearts are also part of the above-mentioned Valentine’s Day Bundle from Little Spark Company. You can buy them separately as well. Check out my Valentine’s sensorial post to see more items from this bundle and how I am using them.
I added a red shoelace from this set and my son takes this out almost every day. He is very interested in lacing activities at the moment and is working on including all the holes.
You could also add an extension for older children by lacing the heart in different ways, taking a photo of each variant, printing and laminating the photos, and offering them as an idea to copy for your child.
This activity helps my son work on his hand-eye coordination as well as preparing him for more complex sewing activities in the future. Sewing is very common in Montessori classrooms as a preparation for writing, since it uses many of the same muscles.
For those interested, the trays shown are a combination of those included with Melissa & Doug products, as well as this set, which I highly recommend both for quality and price.