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Fine Motor Skills and Safety

About this video

Children in this video clip attended a mixed-age early childhood education program at a rural Illinois community college. The children involved were Sara (5 years, 8 months), Paige (3 years, 8 months), and Nic (4 years, 6 months). The children in the program had a variety of attendance patterns.

Automobile parts were placed in the sensory table as part of the children’s ongoing study of cars. Observation of the children as they work intently at dismantling the auto parts reveals the way this open-ended activity allowed each child to practice fine motor skills at his or her individual level. It also reveals the children’s awareness of the importance of safety practices; availability of several pairs of gloves in the sensory table led the children to put them on without prompting. The children talked very little as they engaged in this activity, probably because they were so focused on using their motor skills. As Sara uses a tape measure to measure an automobile part, Paige works to put on her work gloves.



Nic: (Picking up a car part and attaching it to another.) This goes over here (experiments with spinning the piece clockwise and counterclockwise).

Sara: (Finishing screwing a screw into an auto part.) It’s gotta go this way.

Paige: (Holding a screwdriver.) I got one.

Sara: (Passes Paige an auto part that has the levers that control the windows, outside mirrors, and car locks.)

Paige: (Intently manipulates the levers.)

Nic: (Examining auto parts.) There’s too much screws in that one. Want to know which one the special one is? This is the specialest one here (carries two screwdrivers around the sensory table and stands alongside Sara).

Sara: You only need one, Nic.

Nic: (Holding a screw.) Lookit. I got one out, Sara.

Benchmarks and How They Were Met

BenchmarksHow They Were Met
7.C.ECa: With teacher assistance, explore use of measuring tools that use standard units to measure objects and quantities that are meaningful to the child.
Sara held an extended tape measure up to several auto parts.
13.A.ECa: Begin to understand basic safety practices one must follow when exploring and engaging in science and engineering investigations.
All three children put on gloves without direct instruction or reminder. Paige put time and effort into getting both of her gloves on before she worked with the automobile parts and tools.
13.B.ECa: Use nonstandard and standard scientific tools for investigation.
Sara and Nic used screwdrivers and other tools. Paige examined and manipulated a disabled remote control device.
Physical Development and Health
19.A.ECd: Use eye-hand coordination to perform tasks.
Paige watched her hands as she moved them to put on the gloves. Sara carefully aligned the screwdriver and a screw and watched as she turned it. All three children were actively involved in disassembling, manipulating, and reassembling automobile parts with varying levels of skill.

About this resource

Setting(s) for which the article is intended:
  • Preschool Program

Intended audience(s):
  • Teachers / Service providers

Age Levels (the age of the children to whom the article applies):
Related Illinois Early Learning and Development Standards:
Reviewed: 2017