In my Waldorf training, the young child's development of the fine motor skills was viewed as more important than teaching rote skills(such as recognizing the sounds of the letters). The hand can be considered as an instrument of intelligence. Philipp Martzog, a researcher, found that better fine motor skills in the early years might have a direct relationship to higher intelligence level and specifically – deductive thinking. His findings pointed to the relationship between fine motor skills and flexibility in the thinking.
Fine motor skills is how young children develop cognitive abilities in early childhood. It is why we call it “hands-on” learning.
Perhaps the development of fine motor skills is far more important than just the ability to use pencils and markers. The hand is the first tool young children have to express their thoughts and ideas. In the Waldorf schools, the development of the hand includes finger knitting in kindergarten and actually knitting in first grade. I found in my kindergarten, children found deep satisfaction with learning how to finger knit and making bracelets.
I think it is worth giving children many invitations to play that develop and expand their fine motor capacities.
Fine Motor Activity Bottles with Loose Parts
This activity is simple and can be set up with recycled materials. This is a great opportunity to use textile and fabric based loose parts.
The task is simple. To fill the plastic bottle with the various loose parts. Yarns and ribbons are the most difficult to guide into the bottle. The straws, pipe cleaners and feathers are easier. You want to set up an invitation to fill the bottle with a variety of materials that offer different levels of challenge. Provide scissors so yarns, straws and other materials can be cut before adding.
Adjust this to fit the developmental needs of your class or child.
Putting the yarn into the bottle takes both the fingers and eyes to guide.
Big fluffy pipe cleaners…
The results are beautiful and look lovely displayed in a window sill or capped and put in blocks for building!