I hope you have some extra pumpkin seeds, because this is a super fun activity! If not you could use sunflower seeds or even some of the beans from the bean scoop. We had a lot of fun with this activity!
I was recently re-reminded of the importance of fine motor skills when I heard of a Kindergarten teacher who reported she has seen a decline in Kindergarteners’ fine motor skills. At that age that transfers to writing ability, scissor skills, pasting skills, tying shoes, buttoning, zipping clothes… among many other things! So, fine motor development is important, and of course it’s the reason why I include a fine motor activity each week.
What we know about development at the toddler and preschool stage though, is that they learn best in their daily environment. What that means is that you should encourage your child to participate in fine motor movements even when you aren’t doing activities like this. Play with fine motor toys, use play dough, encourage them to color, do fingerplays together, and then let them have some independence with things that are a little difficult for them to do. Whether it is a toy, opening a package, trying to button something… don’t immediately step in assuming something is too hard for them. For instance, opening a snack bag of crackers… let your child fumble and struggle with it a little bit. Too often I see great moms get a little over-involved when they assume their child can’t do something, and that is impeding both their fine motor practice and their problem solving skills. Let your child try, struggle, and either succeed or communicate to you their need for help.
There are two ways to set up this activity. I wanted to make it different than the bean scoop, so I started with 15 seeds already separated into individual compartments for my son to take them out one at a time with tweezers (you can just use a mini muffin tin if you don’t have something like this container). If your child is younger using their fingers will be plenty of a fine motor workout if they aren’t ready for tweezers. Let them try both. If your child is younger or new to activities like this it might help if you demonstrate how to take one out at a time and put it into a separate bowl, and then let them do the rest. Once they get going they will probably want to do it again and again!
The second way to set it up is to roll out some playdough (like a pumpkin, wink wink) and stick each of the pumpkin seeds in the playdough.
From there it’s pretty much the same, except that the dough might offer a little more resistance as your child pulls it out of the dough. Of course, it’s not quite the same if you don’t do it all glammed up with your finest jewelry! And a quick note on which hand your child chooses to use… your child may or may not have a preference yet which hand they use. Don’t worry if they are switching back and forth, giving each hand a try to see which one they like the best.
This is such a simple activity to set up you don’t have to just do it on one day of the week. Bring it back later in the week and let your child try again. It is giving them amazing fine motor benefits and it is a lot of fun!