These "Cork Button Castles" are a fun and effective DIY fine motor activity. Not only are the fingers and the fingertips in charge, but the Velcro also provides an added level of resistance to really make their intrinsic muscles work. A big thank you to the amazing blog No Time for Flashcards for the inspiration!
What you'll need: Velcro circles, tapered corks, and buttons (these cute ones are from Michael's)
1. Lay all of the materials out in front of you. Choose which buttons will be the peaks and which corks will be the bases. The bigger corks will provide the best support as bases.
2. Press fuzzy Velcro onto the tapered ends of all of the corks. Press scratchy Velcro onto the wider ends of the corks (except for ones chosen as bases).
3. Press fuzzy Velcro onto the top sides of all of the buttons (except for the ones choses as peaks). Press scratchy Velcro onto the back sides of all of the buttons.
4. You may have to let the self-adhesive of the Velcro "cure" overnight (check the packaging instructions). Or, you can always use a little glue as well.
Voila! Now you're ready to play:
- Assemble a "castle" and hand it to the child. Have him pull the pieces apart one at a time to build fine motor strength. This will work on bilateral coordination as well.
- Or, lay individual pieces out and have the child put their own castle together. This encourages 1. problem solving skills, as they'll have to figure out which two sides of the Velcro go together; 2. graded movements, as they'll need to judge how much pressure is required to put the piece in place without knocking the tower over; and 3. depth perception and spatial awareness, as they'll have to determine where to put the piece in space.
- Build a tower and set it in front of the child. Instruct them to recreate the tower to work on visual motor skills and being able to copy patterns. You can have them copy the tower exactly if you have enough duplicate pieces.
- If these exercises are too difficult, grade the activity down (make it easier) by sourcing bigger buttons and/or Velcro that's not as hard to pull apart (weak magnets may work too).
- If these exercises are too easy, grade the activity up (make it harder) by sourcing smaller buttons and/or Velcro that's stickier.
- For older kids, you can also make this activity more difficult by working on in-hand manipulation skills. Have the child pick up and hold three buttons in their hand, then move one up at a time to place each piece on the castle. This is called "translating" the buttons from the palm to the fingertips, and being able to do so without dropping the other ones provides a fine motor challenge.