When it comes to fine motor development, hand warm up exercises certainly don’t spring to mind straight away. Looking into an early years classroom, you will no doubt see tweezers or pegs getting used, or scissor activities. However, getting your students into the habit of ‘warming’ up their hands and fingers before using them for certain activities, such as handwriting, is a great routine to set in your classroom. Plus, all your students need is a pencil and their hands! Have I caught your attention?
Why should we get kids to warm up their hands and fingers?
All you need to do is spend a couple of minutes rotating through some of these hand exercises. By doing this, the little minds in your classroom are working hard to increase their tactile and proprioceptive sensory messages from their hands! It’s also allowing them to become more sensory aware of what their hand and muscle joints are doing.
And to top it of, these hand and finger warm ups are a great way to improve fine motor control and aid in their motor memory!
8 Hand and Finger Exercises for Kids
If you would like to see some of these exercises in action, head on over to the Teach Starter Instagram page and check out our Finger Exercises Reel. As you scroll through these exercises you’ll notice that not only are these finger and hand exercises good for warm ups before handwriting, but they are also a great brain break!
(1) Finger Wedge Pencil Pick Up
In this activity, students will place a pencil on the table in front of them. Then, they need to cycle through their fingers to pick up the pencil by holding one finger on one end of the pencil and the other finger on the other end. You could even get them to pick up the pencil and raise it above their head, or even over to the side to cross their midline.
(2) Pincher Grasp Fine Motor Exercise
This second exercise has your students doing the simple pointer and thumb pinch to pick up the pencil. Then, they can go ahead and do the middle finger and thumb, ring finger and thumb and finally the pinky and thumb.
You can rotate through this exercise and have them count how many times they can do this in 15 seconds.
(3) Finger Sit Ups – Fine Motor Exercise
This third exercise is all about finger control. Students balance a pencil on both pointer fingers and roll the fingers over to grasp the pencil and then open again. Then, they can add their middle finger and repeat the exercise. Finally, adding their ring finger and repeating the exercise again.
(4) Twist and Turn Hand Exercise
This one is really getting that mind and hand communication going. Have students use their whole hand to hold the pencil horizontally with the right hand holding the left end of the pencil and their first facing up. Then, have them cross over their left hand to hold the right end of the pencil. Again, this is fantastic for students to cross their midline too!
One hand then lets go and the other twists at the wrist so that the fingers are now facing up, the other hand now grabs the empty end of the pencil. Now, both hands are facing upwards and the right hand is holding the right end of the pencil, and the left hand is holding the left end of the pencil. Now, the other hand lets go, and twists at the wrist so that the fingers are facing down, the other hand crosses over again to grab the empty end of the pencil. We’ve included a short video to as this is a tricky exercise to explain.
(5) Rub Hands Together Hand Exercise
A simple rubbing of the hands together with the pencil is a super easy one for really little hands. Add another element of this and have students move both hands over to the right of their body and then over to the left – another way you can encourage them to cross their midline. And, also thinking about their right and left!
(6) Tricky Finger Trick Fine Motor Exercise
This will really get their minds thinking. Show them this picture and have them hold a pencil in each hand with the middle and ring finger on one side and the pointer and pinky on the other. Then simply have them open and close their hands
(7) Balancing from Hand to Hand
A simple yet effective one that is really going to open up that communication channel between the mind and the hands. Balance the pencil on one hand then slowly create a decline so that the pencil falls into the other hand. Keep doing this going from the right hand to the left hand or vice versa.
(8) Pincher Slide Fine Motor Activity
In this exercise, students need to hold the pencil with one hand at the bottom and then hold their pointer and thumb at the top and slowly slide down the pencil to the bottom, then they move to the thumb and middle finger, then the thumb and ring finger, and finally to the thumb and pinky.
Have you got a go to hand and finger exercise you do with your early learners?
Check out our collection of printable fine motor activities too!