Children learn about objects and their use through functional play. They use toys or objects in the way in which they are intended. They will roll a ball and stack blocks.
This type of play can also be described as manipulative play. A child uses their hands to manipulate toys and objects to learn about how to use them. This includes construction play, arts and crafts and tool-use (e.g. scissors) and helps to develop eye-hand co-ordination.
Early Manipulative Play
Manipulative Play in the early stages is about learning to use your hands. Fine motor skills develop through a number of different stages from sensory awareness to in-hand manipulation and tool-use. These skills are essential for the development of other activities of daily living. Below are some play activities to help your child develop these essential skills.
Reach, grasp and release are fundamental fine motor skills. It is important to develop these skills early as they are building blocks to complex fine motor skills and participation in activities of daily living which develop later.
Reach & Grasp
The development of reach and grasp is influenced by a child’s growing interest in objects and desire to attain them.
Finger isolation is an important stage in the development of grasp. It is the ability to move certain fingers apart from the rest of the hand/fingers.
When children begin using their hands, all fingers move together at the same time. As they grow and develop, they gain the ability to move individual fingers. It helps with being able to fasten and unfasten buttons, hold and control a pencil for drawing and writing, cut with scissors, type on a keyboard, play a musical instrument, tie shoelaces, and many other daily living skills.
Construction play involves manipulating one or more pieces of play materials to create something new. This may involve a variety of methods – stacking, sticking, putting together, taking things apart, sorting or moulding, to name a few.
Construction play develops all types of skills and behaviours;
The motor skills necessary to create and manipulate the items.
Planning & ideation skills; the ability to try out and test ideas.
Perseverance when things don’t work.
When playing with others turn taking and collaboration skills.
There are benefits to using technology both for play and learning. Using technology can help with creativity, problem solving, visual thinking and can make learning fun. Using the right kind of technology/games/activities can support the development of your child’s learning and skills, including fine motor skills, letter/number/shape/colour recognition, eye-hand co-ordination, reading, writing, planning, problem solving etc.
Click on the links for more information for parents/carers in relation to internet safety and also more information on using IT in education.
Taking part in art and craft activities can help your child in many ways. Arts and crafts activities can help to develop your child’s imagination and creativity, their planning and organisation skills and fine motor skills.