What is Motor Planning? & Fine Motor Planning Maze
What is Motor Planning? Ok, so you're walking along a hallway with an armful of bags and see a ball in your path. You walk around it and continue walking. But, hold on. That was a pretty cool ball. It was all red and shiny. It looked like a really fun ball to bounce. You stop, turn around, walk back to the ball, stoop down, put down your bags, and pick it up. Woah. It's not only red and shiny, but it's a little heavy too. It takes a bit more muscle oomph than you were expecting. You hold your arm up high, with the ball up over your head. Totally not a baseball player's pose, but all awkward and kid-like. You know. Pure fun throwing. You toss that red, shiny, heavy ball as hard as you can towards a big old blank wall on one of the hallway walls. Now watch out! That red, shiny, heavy ball is bouncing around like crazy! It's bouncing off of the wall and right back at you! You jump to the side and then to the left and right as it bounces back and forth between the walls of that hallway. You have to skip to the side to avoid your bags. The ball stops bouncing and rolls to the side of the hall. Well, that was fun. You pick up the ball and hold it while you gather your bags. Now, you see a boy coming down the hall who sees that red, shiny, heavy ball in your hand and says, "Hey! There's my ball!" You smile and toss the ball as he reaches out his hand and catches. "Thanks!!" he says as you wave and start walking down the hall again.
What is Motor Planning?
Motor Planning happens with everything we do! From walking around objects in our path, to picking up items, to aiming and throwing, drawing, writing, getting dressed, and even dodging red bouncy balls...Motor Planning problem solving and moving over, under, and around requires fine motor and gross motor skills and planning to plan out, organize, and carry out an action. We must organize incoming information, including sensory input, and integrate that information into our plan. We need to determine if a ball is heavy or light to pick up and hold it without dropping it.
You might hear of motor planning referred to as praxis. Praxis aka Motor Planning requires observing and understanding the task (ideation), planning out an action in response to the task (organization), and the act of carrying out the task (execution). A difficulty with any of these areas will lead to dyspraxia in many skill areas. Dyspraxia can be a result of poor sensory integration, visual difficulties, fine motor and gross motor coordination and ability, neural processing, and many other areas.
Today, I've got a quick and easy fine motor activity to work on motor planning with kids. This activity is part of our 31 Days of Occupational Therapy series where we're sharing fun and frugal ideas for treatment of many OT skill areas with items you might already have in your house.
Motor Planning Activity for Fine Motor Dyspraxia
Affiliate links are included in this post. To make this motor planning activity, you'll need just a few items. First, grab a clear plastic baggie and `white crafting pom poms . You'll need one red pom pom. These are items we had in our crafting supplies, but you could modify this activity to use items you have. Other ideas might be beads, pin pong balls, ice cubes, or any small item.
Fill the baggie with the pom poms and squeeze out the air. Seal the baggie.
Use a permanent marker to draw on a maze from one side of the baggie to the other. You can make this as complex as you like. Add additional mazes, or two different pom pom colors for the maze. Work the red pom pom from one end of the maze to the other. Squeezing the pom pom is a fine motor work out for the hands. You'll need to open up the thumb web space (the part of your hand between the thumb and fingers, and use those intrinsic small muscles of the hand. Both of these areas are important for fine motor tasks like coloring and writing. Use this a s a warm-up activity before writing, coloring, and scissor activities. This is a great activity to have on hand in your therapy treatment bag or to pull out while waiting at the doctor's office.
Toys and gifts to work on Motor Planning and Dyspraxia:
Looking for more ways to work on dyspraxia with your kids? These are some fun fine and gross motor activities that are fun and creative. The best thing about all of them is that they are open-ended. Use them in obstacle courses or in movement tasks to incorporate many skill areas. These are some fun ideas to save for gift ideas. Now which to get first...
Work on fine motor dexterity and bilateral coordination while encouraging motor planning as the child matches colors of the nuts and bolts in this Jumbo Nuts and Bolts Set with Backpack set. The large size is perfect for preschoolers or children with a weak hand grasp.
This Button Mosaic Transperent Pegboard is a powerhouse of motor planning play. Kids can copy and match big and bright cards to the pegs in this large pegboard. I love that the toy is propped up on an incline plane, allowing for an extended wrist and a tripod grasp. Matching the colors and placing the pegs into the appropriate holes of the pegboard allow for motor planning practice.
A big and bright puzzle like this Puzzle-shaped Block Set allows kids to work on hand-eye coordination and motor planning as they scan for pieces, match the appropriate parts of the puzzle pieces, and attempt to work the pieces into place. Building a puzzle such as this one can be a workout for kids with hand and upper extremity weakness.
Kids of all ages can work on motor planning and fine motor skills with this Grimm's Rainbow Bowls Shape & Color Sorting Activity. Use the colored fish to place into the matching cups, as children work on eye-hand coordination. Using the tongs requires a greater level of motor planning. You can modify this activity by placing the cups around a room for a gross motor visual scanning and motor planning activity. Children can then follow multi-level instructions as they climb over, around, under, and through obstacles to return the fish to their matching bowls.
Encourage more gross motor planning with hopping, jumping, and skipping using this Crocodile Hop A Floor Mat Game. It is a great way to encourage whole body motor planning and multiple-step direction following.
Address balance and coordination with these Gonge Riverstones Gross Motor Course as children step from stone to stone. These would make a great part of many imagination play activities as children plan out motor sequences to step, cross, hop, and jump...without even realizing they are working on motor planning tasks.
Introduce multiple-step direction following and motor planning with colored footprints like these Gonge Feet Markers. Plan out a combination of fine and gross motor obstacle courses for kids to work on motor planning skills.
For more fine motor coordination and motor planning, kids will love this Chickyboom Balance Game as they practice fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and about balance and mathematics.
Love it? PIN IT! And when you see that red, shiny, heavy ball...bounce it knowing that you can understand, organize, and execute a big old bounce!
Find more ideas in our 31 Days of Occupational Therapy series: