Montessori Materials: Fine Motor Skills at school and at home

Tina Davidson

Practicing in School

One of the most popular works in the Montessori classroom is the metal insets. This stencil activity promotes fine motor skills through hand strengthening, hand-eye coordination & concentration. Fine motor development is critical as it leads to all academic areas from primary to upper elementary. It is an essential work that builds fine motor skills and prepares the hand for writing.  Fine motor development is critical as it leads to all academic areas from primary to elementary. 

In the 3-6 classroom, children flock to this material to practice their tracing skills. As students get older, they discover the beauty of layering stencils and creating unique designs. It’s amazing to watch a student work for 30 minutes or more, dedicating all of their focus to this delicate and precise handwork. The payoff is huge! Increased concentration, longer work cycles, creativity, and, naturally, strong fine motor control.

Refining, Creating & Expanding in Elementary

Metal inset work doesn’t end in the primary classroom. Students in elementary continue their creative work with these shapes as they begin to develop geometry skills. Montessori classrooms build upon the experiences of the child. Learning comes naturally when familiar materials are there to support new information. The same is true for creative expression. Posters filled with information are commonly embellished with metal inset tracings to highlight facts, titles, or images as students find new ways to express themselves.

Fun Fine Motor Work at Home

The metal insets are a beloved material in Montessori classrooms, but there are many ways to support fine motor development at home. Have your child paint your nails. Try chopsticks.  Make bread together and have your child knead the dough.  Sew a missing button on a shirt or add two to a sock puppet. Ask children to cut pictures from grocery store flyers to provide very practical cutting exercises.  Who knows, your child may even be able to make a visual grocery list for you!  A trip to a craft store will provide your family with a plethora of wonderful hand strengthening activities for all ages.  Our family’s favorites include Perler Beads, Lite Brite, Legos (especially the single block sets), Wiki Stix, and maze and dot to dot books.   

Having fine motor work at home and in the classroom provides the perfect support for healthy growth and development.