Tuesday, August 28, 2018


Samantha Goetz posted this idea on Facebook.  I was so impressed that I asked her to be a guest blogger.  This is absolutely brilliant!!!  It is like sending those little fingers to the gym so they have the strength to write, cut, draw, and do other small motor activities.  Samantha is a kindergarten teacher, but this would also be perfect for pre-k.
                                             As a kindergarten teacher, I have noticed an increasingly, alarming trend over the past few years. Despite the best efforts of the preschool teacher, my students were coming into kindergarten with fewer and fewer fine motor skills. I had students who were not able to tie their shoes, let alone cut with mastery. In order to help combat this problem I decided to create fine motor tubs. Actually, I purchased a cart with wheels and drawers. I numbered each drawer and placed inside something for the students to work on to increase their abilities.  To manage who gets what tub I simply made a chart with the numbers of the drawer and a star next to where the student would start. Every morning my students come in and unpack for the day and immediately go pick out their tub. They work with the items provided for about 10 minutes. During this time they are free to talk about whatever they want. They might share what they made or help out each other. I am fairly lenient as long as they are working. When the 10 minutes are over they put away their tub and mark off on the record sheet and we are ready to start the day. The students have used this time to settle into the classroom as well as work on some very important skills. I definitely noticed great changes within my students over the year and was very pleased with the outcome. 

Some ideas that I have used are:
Playdough/ Clay / Theraputty 
With extruders
Tongue depressors 
                         Filled Balloons 
                                                                           Lacing various types of string, yarn, ribbon with beads of various sizes and shapes or buttons
Tongs/Tweezers and marbles or pom-poms
Weaving string, yarn, ribbon, pipe cleaners through a cooling rack
Straight scissors or fancy scissors
Sewing cards
Tennis balls with slits
Plastic canvas and plastic needle w/ string or ribbon
Hole punches or shape paper punches
Poke a picture 
Stretch rubber bands over cans/ toilet paper tubes
Small hair elastics sorted onto large tongue depressors
Paper clips onto a piece of cardboard
Plastic chains
Melty beads
Clothes pins pinched around a bowl 
Pick corn kernels from the cob (we are a rural farm community ☺ )
Geoboard with rubber bands
Money into a piggy bank
Spray bottles onto a sponge 
Hand pump &/or finger pump
Golf tees into a piece of Styrofoam or pegboard
Tearing paper/fabric scraps
Tie/untie knots into fabric strips
Pop-it Beads
Nuts & bolts
Marble mazes
Q-tip painting
Coloring books 
*Provide fun and not typically used writing materials: mechanical pencils, smelly markers, colored pens, colored sharpies.
You don’t have to have a ton of things to make it different for the students each week. Also, it can easily be differentiated for each student’s needs. For example, I usually start with cutting plain paper, maybe then construction paper, cardstock, thin cardboard. Add fancy cutting scissors in between paper changes. As their skills increase then the difficulty changes to meet the needs of the student.  

Sometimes I add other skills to the task, but definitely not required. Example: sort the pom-poms by color using tweezers. 

I try to have at least one writing, dough, pinching, scissor, and lacing activity per rotation. 

While the students are working on this I am completing attendance, checking agendas, and any other small task that may have come up and need taken care of before we start the day.  

The key for me was that the students could complete every activity completely on their own with quick set up and clean up. Also, almost everything was something that I already had either in the room or my home. I did purchase a few things from Dollar Tree. 

The supplies that are not in use are currently just stored in a few big storage containers. I probably should find a better way to store this. 

The students rotate through all drawers at least twice. I usually change the drawers out about once a month and with 10 different activities they never seemed to get bored. Sometimes I try to theme some of the items for the month/season, but usually don’t worry about that much. 

Note: I come from a very small district and have an average of 6 students per year. I could see this being utilized in a larger classroom with another set of drawers. Each drawer could be duplicated repeating some of the same items. 

(Typically the students do not share but one started on a “project” and the next day the next student added to it, and then again with the third student)

                                                  (Preschool visitation day… we were a little extra squished and sharing.)