Dough Gym Week – Fine Motor Physical Development

abc doesUncategorizedLeave a Comment

the pivots have worked their way down to the wrist, the journey doesn’t stop
there, although for lots of children it becomes far trickier. This is where
children often get stuck.

end of the ‘pivot’ journey will be when we get that mark making implement to
the very last, smallest set of pivots, right at the end of the fingers. If we
can hold our mark making tool there then we will have the fullest, most
dexterous range of movement that our bodies can provide.

P2236472Penguin Pre School

The hand is quite a complex piece of machinery
and is made up of lots of different joints and muscle groups that interconnect
and work together to provide maximum dexterity. In a child’s journey to becoming
a mark maker and eventually a writer they need to proficient in all of the
following.  When you are thinking about
the provision that you have got available for developing children’s fine motor
dexterity it is useful to think about the skill first and then match the
activity. Dough Gym is a great intervention for supporting the development of all of these (and more).

P2236500Penguin Pre School

or Grip  – This enables a child to pick up small items
using the thumb and index finger.  The
most basic form of this skill is when children use all fingers to
“rake” items into the

palm of their hand. During the next phase of
their development they might pinch items with the thumb against the side of the
index finger before moving on to a more accomplished grip where they can use
the end of their thumb and forefinger in a pincer grasp to manipulate small
objects effectively.

IMG_1946St Andrew’s Primary School

Arches –
There are several arches within the palm of your
hand that enable the hand to grasp a range of different objects of various
sizes and shapes.  These arches direct the skilled movement of your
fingers and control the power of your grasp. Your palm arches are directly
related to your ability to manipulate a mark making implement (like a pencil or
paint brush). If your palm arches are not well developed then they cannot
provide enough support to your fingers to allow them in turn to manipulate the
mark making tool. This is why children will grasp their mark making implement
in their palm at the earliest stages of their development.

P2236723Penguin Pre School

Manipulation –  
This skill refers to the ability move and position objects within one
hand without the assistance of the other hand.  Children (and some adults)
often find this really hard. Children need lots of practice with items such as
elastic bands and pencils being able to move them in between their fingers.
Also round objects like conkers or marbles which they have to rotate in the
palm of one hand. Usually with fine motor dexterity exercises you would start
with large objects because they are easiest. With in-hand manipulation it is
the opposite. The larger the object the more challenge.

DSC03910Obviously, I do not advocate the in-hand manipulation of live creatures! Although, it does turn out to be the object of choice for lots of children.

No worms were harmed in the taking of this photograph (unfortunately it was already dead!)

Opposition –
This refers to the ability to turn and rotate
the thumb so that it can touch each fingertip of the same hand.  Start
with the palm spread and then get the children to use their thumb to touch each
of the fingertips in turn. After each individual touch always return to a
spread palm. When they become proficient at doing each hand individually then
get them to do both hands at the same time. To extend this challenge further
ask the children to do both hands together, but start with the index finger on
one hand and the little finger on the other. This is not only good for
developing dexterity, but also bilateral brain work. (Try it, it is harder than
you think)

 – To do
this you need to be able to is move each finger one at a time.  At the early stages of dexterity development
children will move all of their fingers together in a grasping motion . As they develop, they learn to move the fingers individually. This
ability is very important in the development of fine motor
skills.  It is the mechanism that will allow children to hold and
manipulate a pencil or a paintbrush as well as tie laces, push buttons and a
host of other every day essential skills.

The Friars Primary School

PIP and DIP Joints

Although this sounds a bit like a children’s
television program, it actually refers the joints in your hand, thumb and
fingers. The first one that you come to is the knuckle (or metacarpophalangeal
joint). This is usually very flexible and used for grabbing, raking and also in
pencil grips like palmar supinate. The next joint is the PIP joint. PIP stands
for Proximal Interphalangeal Joint. This is used for all major grips and finger
manipulations. The final finger joint is the DIP joint. DIP stands for Distal
Interphalangeal Joint (Think I will stick to PIP and DIP it is much easier!)


This is the one that you need to be able to
manipulate well to support a tripod grip. To develop this joint you need to
work with things that are small and fiddly and malleable materials that give a
high level of resistance.


 Bilateral coordination – We all need to be able to coordinate both sides of the body at the
same time in a controlled way. This can mean using both sides to do the same thing, like pushing open a door
or jumping into a puddle. We also need to be proficient at using alternating movements when both sides
of the body are doing the same thing but not at the same time. Walking is a good
example of this where our arms and legs will be making a similar movement to
each other but in sequence. The most complex level of bilateral coordination is
where the body has to do two completely different movements on each side but at
the same time using such as when cutting with scissors while holding and
controlling the paper with the other hand. 

/Eye Coordination –
The correct term for this
is Visual Motor Integration. It is one of the fundamental skills which hold the
key to so many of the things that children need to be able to do, not only to
become successful mark makers but to have success in virtually every aspect of
their life. It is  this is the ability to
control hand movement guided by vision.  We use this skill to enable us to
draw, paint, thread, cut, pour, eat, build and write to name but a few. It is
essential that children have lots of practice in developing it on a daily

IMG_0849The Friars Primary School

During a Dough Gym session there will be times when you are using your fingers, palms and arms to manipulate the dough, interspersed with other times when you will be doing activities without the dough. But more of that tomorrow…


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.