Wooden Cutting Food and Fine Motor Skills
The importance of developing good motor skills
Toys, including cutting food, and playtime are vital for helping children develop motor skills, using their muscles. Motor skills can be broadly split into two categories. Gross motor skills focus on the big muscles, running, jumping, crouching, squatting, crawling and sitting. Fine motor skills use the small muscles and include gripping, wiggling toes, controlling their mouths, writing, getting dressed and using cutlery.
Because children need dexterity and strength in their small muscles, particularly in their hands and fingers for so many everyday tasks it’s important to make sure they are developing these skills in a fun and engaging way.
Ensuring that children are developing these skills as babies, toddlers and preschoolers will ensure that they are fully equipped when it comes time to dress and undress themselves, use a pen or pencil, learn to write, and feed themselves.
Not developing these skills can lead to frustration and an unwillingness to take part in tasks that they find difficult.
How wooden cutting food can be used to help develop fine motor skills
There are lots of amazing toys, and just things you can find around the house that are great for developing fine motor skills at different stages of development. Wooden cutting food is a great option for toddlers as it combines all the benefits that come with roleplaying with an opportunity to practise their gripping and cutting skills.
Kids love to copy the things they see us do, including chopping up food. And while it’s great to get children involved with the cooking, and even let them practise cutting food from a young age, (a butter knife will easily cut through a banana and even cucumber or courgette), you need to give close supervision when they have a real knife.
With a set of cutting fruit or other wooden food children get to practise these skills at their own pace without any risk of hurting themselves, giving them a greater sense of independence.
Other ways to improve fine motor skills while playing with a toy kitchen
Using tongs is another great way to strengthen the muscles in their hands and improve bilateral coordination that works brilliantly alongside cutting food or other kitchen toys. You could use smaller items such as pom poms or beads to represent berries and string or strips of fabric to be pasta that is perfect for picking up with tongs.
If you have a colander that your child enjoys playing with you could introduce some pipe cleaners that they can poke through the holes. And you can give them dried beans or lentils to play with that can also be picked up with tweezers to develop fine motor skills.
As kids get a bit bigger a blackboard is a great addition to a kitchen and can be used to write shopping lists or menus as a fun way of practising their writing skills.
Next Up: Wooden Play Food and Imaginative Play