Motor skills play an essential role in child development. Gross motor skills involve using several muscles that do things such as walking, jumping, crawling, sitting, and running. Fine motor skills involve using smaller muscles to do things such as picking up small objects, zipping up a jacket, or writing. For many children with developmental delay, these controlled movements tend to be quite the challenge. Here are some ways to help encourage children to exercise these skills.
Work with children to practice those specific skills and movements that challenge them
Encourage children to try increasingly difficult new movements
Divide difficult motor skills into smaller steps so they are easier to learn
The following apps offer fun and creative ways to encourage fine motor skill development:
Bugs and Buttons 2:
Bugs and Buttons 2 is a free app on Apple and Android. This is a fun game with easy-to-follow visual instructions and engaging graphics. This app that may be especially beneficial for children with dyspraxia and other fine motor issues. There are six games at three levels, each covering early math, pre-reading, and critical thinking skills. While playing these games, children work on their pincer grasp, hand-eye coordination, touch-and-drag motion, and more.
Breakout Boost is a free app on Apple. It is an arcade classic game with enhanced and improved graphics and deeper gameplay features. This app can work on visual tracking and timing. Thus, this game will make a good tool to use for a child with visual motor or perceptual difficulties, such as a Down syndrome.
Dexteria Jr. is a great app for toddlers, individuals with special needs, or any child with fine motor deficits. Children with dysgraphia may especially benefit from the hand and finger exercises to help develop handwriting skills. There are three simple games in this app, all which require only three movements: tap, tap and drag, and pinch. The app also offers progress reports so that parents, therapists and educators can track each
iTrace – Handwriting for Kids:
This app is a handwriting skills practice app for early learners and includes numbers, letters, words, and even a special mode to practice the user’s name. The neat feature about this app is that it demonstrates the correct way to hold a pencil and exactly where to trace on the model number or letter. iTrace may be especially useful for children who have trouble with letter spacing and fine motor problems. Each letter includes a default version and an alternate version for different styles and preferences, including options for left-handed individuals. The app also offers detailed progress reports for parents, which include images of each tracing and assessments, such as “too shaky,” “out of bounds,” and “overextended.”
Tozzle is a based on the standard wooden jigsaw puzzles often found at home or school. In this app, there are 40 jigsaw puzzle designs including animals, shapes, food, letters and more–in a non-standard typeface. The puzzles begin with big, basic shapes and increase in difficulty to smaller, more complicated designs. If a player has trouble completing a puzzle, the game will prompt the child with an arrow pointing the way and a circle around the correct location. By matching these colors and shapes, for example, children work on hand-eye coordination.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding any of the apps listed or for additional information, please contact an occupational therapist here at All Care Therapies!