Did you know that a baby’s rattle is helping that baby develop early literacy skills? I’m sure many of you do know this. If this sounds amazing to you, though, here is why. We are all aware of the pincer grasp in babies, that first grasp of your finger that happens when you place your finger in their hands. Well, holding a rattle helps to further develop those fine muscles used in the grasp, and those fine muscles aid in a toddler holding a crayon. Soon they also learn to control those muscles and hold the crayon or pencil “properly”. The scribbles once created on the page, which by the way are a child’s first attempt at writing words, eventually become actual letters.
Exposing your child to activities that help develop these fine motor skills are, therefore, extremely important in their literacy development. My daughter loves to pick up rocks and carry them from one place in the yard to another. I am often amazed at her tiny little fingers grabbing these pebbles (really). And stickers! What child doesn’t love a sticker! Instead of peeling the sticker off the sheet for them, allow them to try and if needed, only peel a corner and let them peel it the rest of the way.
Some other fun activities might include:
Drawing/Coloring/Writing/Painting: the more they practice, the better control they’ll gain!
Play-doh: great for all the muscles in their hands and a wonderful textural experience!
Sorting: buttons, M&M’s (also a great math activity!), beads, raw pasta
Jewelry making: using raw pasta or cereal (especially if you’re afraid your little one will try and eat the raw pasta!) and string, have them thread the food through the string and make a necklace or bracelet.
Crank Toys: from a jack-in-the-box to gears to fishing poles, anything that helps them use those muscles and build control.
For more ideas, check out some great books on why it is important and books with ideas on activities to do with them.