Fine Motor Skills, Clothespin Style

6 years ago

Confession:  I haven't put a whole lot of effort into developing my kids' fine motor skills.  I figure, they can eat, they can play, they can tickle, that's good, right?  I mean, I never remember consciously working on my fine motor skills and I'm pretty dexterous.  So what if Jax can't put his clothes on or pull them off?  I guess we probably should work on that a bit.  Thus when I came across this post at Hands On As We Grow, a favorite creative site of mine,  I found myself pinning away at the activities for fine motor skill development and was intrigued enough to do one that very day.

It was a link to The Complete Guide to Imperfect Homemaking (my kind of blog!) and a cool activity that combined literacy with fine motor development.  I thought it was so awesome Jax and I embarked on it as soon as Em was down for her nap.  Using clothespins to reinforce letters and spelling!

Here's what you need:

 index cards, clothespins, marker

That's it!  Now of course, you can always make it as elaborate as you'd like.  You could laminate the cards or decorate them as need be.  We actually hung our cards up on the wall with tape and ribbon, so you could do that as well, or you can store them in a box like we wound up doing in the end.  Before you act, think about what you want to get out of this activity.  It has potential for so many hours of fun!


Write words clearly and well-spaced-out on index cards.  Jax and I chose common words that he already knows how to spell to begin with, and then I got the idea that I'd like to decorate them with stickers.  So I rummaged through our sticker bin and picked out fifteen or so that are common words, like fish, car, dog.  Then I wrote the alphabet on 26 clothespins.

Note:  Think about how you want your pins to go, underneath or above, before you write the letters on the flashcard and on the index card.  I knew I wanted them underneath and so I wrote my words (and added stickers) accordingly, leaving proper space.

Then I began taping the cards to ribbon I hung on the wall.  After a few I realized, why am I doing this when I am surrounded by clothespins? So Jax and I hung them like laundry on the ribbons, which I think looked really cute.

The difficult part was that once Jax began adding clothespins to the cards, they became rather heavy and started falling off the ribbon.  So after a while we took them down, but if you can reinforce them properly (and don't have younger children who would destroy them), it would be a fun way to display your work and then they could work like sight words.

The goal is for your child to take his alphabet clothespins and clip them beneath the letters on the cards, reinforcing the spelling of the words while working on fine motor skills!  It was really fun and he enjoyed searching for the proper clothespin, then planning out the spacing on the cards.  He even reminded me that we couldn't use the word "ball" because we didn't have two "L" s.  And he had to think about whether he could spell two "B" words at once because the "B" was being used on another card at that moment.  Lots of abstract thinking!

I've wanted to make a word wall since I saw this cool one over at Momnivore's Dilemma over the holidays, and now I think I have something similar, with my own twist.  JDubbs was less than thrilled about the idea of having yet another crafty thing taking up wall space, so I was loath to do it, but instead, I'll just change out the index cards every few weeks so that they are seasonally appropriate and we can talk about what they mean.  I may do one for each letter, too; I'll let you know how that goes.  But what you really need to know is it took us 45 minutes to make our cards and clothespins, then he played with them for another half hour or so before Em got up.  She promptly started destroying our precious clothespins, so she's off-limits for a while, but overall I'd say you can't go wrong with this activity that is so awesome on so many different levels!  Try it and let me know how it goes!


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