When we talk about children playing outdoors we often refer to the use of gross motor skills. But there is no reason children can't use their fine motors skills outdoors too. I have found that some children can concentrate better outside, the fresh air and open space can be calming.
Every week our Forest School toddler class has an open ended craft activity. They aren't the usual craft activities. They are always nature based and they always require the use of fine motor skills. Is there a better combination??
Often Otto will skip the craft activity preferring to play in the mud mountain or sit around the camp fire (or use the tree swing as a pendulum), it's always a choice. But I will take the idea home and may present it later or sometimes with Caspar and Otis. This particular craft activity I love so much I want to share it with you.
For this activity we use pieces of card. We made one card that folded over, so we can write inside it (perfect for gift giving). I put strips of clear double sided tape on the front of the cards. I used Sellotape (UK) 12mm tape because I already had some, the 25mm is what we used at Forest School and would be a better choice. The Scotch Double Sided Tape (US) may work just as well. I peeled the back off the Sellotape so the tape facing up is sticky.
At Forest School the children walked around with their cards and filled them as they went along. At home Otto and I collected lots of flowers, moss, feathers, bits and pieces and put them on our table (our outdoor sand/water table with the lid on).
We focused on the small items in our garden, it's a wonderful opportunity to work together and observe what is going on around us on a deeper level. We have so many smaller flowers and little moss type plants growing that I hadn't noticed before.
Otto sat on my lap and I demonstrated how to pick up the tiny flowers and things carefully, and press them onto the tape. He allowed me to finish one card completely (top left) before starting his. While he worked on his cards (pink) I worked on mine (green).
This age is so super sweet, Otto chats away as he works. I'm almost obessed, everytime I see him use that pincer I am immensely happy.
I know... process over product, but to be honest, I think the result is really beautiful too. When the flowers dry, it still looks wonderful and colourful.
Outdoors we have our art easel, sand/water table, and large black board. These all promote the use of fine motor skills. But I'm going to continue to look for ways to support fine motor work outdoors which will also extend our knowledge and appreciation of nature and the world around us. The more time children spend outdoors in a natural environment the more of the norm it will become.