Stickers develop fine motor skills! Peeling stickers from a sticker sheet promotes a pincer grasp and ulnar-radial separation (separation of the two sides of the hand). Sticking stickers to a surface requires a child to stabilize with the pinky side of the hand (ulnar stability) while controlling the sticker with the thumb and index finger (radial mobility). These skills are essential for grasping and controlling a pencil or crayon to write and draw.
Stickers are motivating! Choose stickers with a character or picture that your child loves. Children who resists fine motor activities or other skills targeted in the activities below are likely to perceive a game as fun and non-threatening when Dora or Superman is involved. An exciting sticker makes a great visual cue too.
Here are some sticker games to try:
- Decorate a picture frame: Peel and stick stickers on a foam picture frame to make a birthday gift or mother’s/father’s day present.
- Apples on the tree: Use basic round stickers as apples and oranges and place them on a drawing of a tree.
- Tic Tack Toe: Draw a tic tack toe board on a piece of paper and hang it on the wall. Take turns placing your sticker in a square to play tic tack toe. Placing a sticker or drawing on a vertical surface causes the wrist to extend, placing the arm and hand at a biomechanical advantage to facilitate refined control from the level of the fingers.
- Balloon Faces: Blow up a balloon and decorate with eyes, nose and mouth stickers. The child must stabilize the balloon with the non-dominant hand to prevent it from moving.
- Find the stickers (on your body): Dressing requires body awareness and range of motion. For example, removing shoes requires knowing where the feet are in relation to the body and reaching the feet. Hide ten stickers on different parts of your child’s body and ask him or her to find all ten. Start with stickers placed where he/she can see (belly, arm) and increase the challenge by placing stickers in less visible and harder to reach spots such as the bottom of the feet or back.
- Kickball: To work on identifying sides of the body, place a blue sticker on one foot and red sticker on the other. Roll a ball to the child and call out “left” or “right” and use the sticker color as a visual cue.
- Toss across: To facilitate crossing the mid-line of the body, place a blue sticker on one hand and red on the other. Place a bucket of the corresponding color diagonally across from each hand. The red hand must toss objects into the red bucket and blue hand into the blue bucket.
Blog written by: Ariela Harcsztark, MA, OTR/L