Therapist Thursday: Work On Those Fine Motor Skills And Let ‘Er Rip!

By: Michelle Yoder, OTR/L

Ask any little kid:  Ripping and tearing is fun! 

 What little ones don’t realize is that as they rip magazine pictures to make collages or tear tissue paper to make textured artwork, they’re also refining and building fine motor skills.

In occupational therapy, we talk about the “dynamic” and the “static” sides of the hand.  The dynamic side, which includes the thumb, pointer and long fingers, does the “moving,” while the static side, which includes the ring and pinky fingers, do the “stabilizing.”  That combination – “moving” and “stabilizing” — is essential to holding a pencil, cutting with scissors or even buttoning a shirt.

Specifically, when your little one is ripping and tearing, he or she:

  • Promotes separation of the two sides of the hand
  • Fosters strength in the intrinsic hand muscles
  • Facilitates the wrist movement, primarily extension, so important in handwriting, typing and other daily skills.
  • Enhances an open web space that is necessary for a mature, efficient pencil grasp.
  • Facilitates bilateral integration (using both sides of the body or both hands) to improve performance in everyday activities such as twisting off toothpaste caps, fastening clothing, writing and drawing (one hand writes and the other holds the paper still) and opening and closing food containers.

The Fundanoodle “I Can Bead, Lace, Rip, Trace” activity kit helps children develop those important skills by encouraging little ones to rip tissue paper squares, wad them up and adhere them to a sticky shape. The resulting masterpiece is sure to be fridge-worthy, and you can feel confident your child is developing the skills essential to daily activities!

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