Tag Archives: open ended play

A Fun Activity for Promoting Fine Motor Skills: The Magic Cord

If you would like an activity that is simple, fun and helps promote following instructions and perseverance while developing fine motor skills, try making a Magic Cord with your children!

Magic Cord
Our daughter, Faith, holding a Magic Cord

This activity is excellent for teaching children how to follow instructions and develop their fine motor skills. They must hold on tightly to the ends while they are twisting them together. Watch out! The strings tend to fly out of their fingers as they practice tightly grasping with their fingers while alternating hands. You have to start over, sometimes several times. They also must grasp tightly as they pass it back to the teacher. Don’t get discouraged, but laugh and enjoy the process. Model how much fun it is to try and how the next time, it will be easier. Keep doing it until it is well twisted.

  1. Take three or more pieces of colorful yarn at least 2 feet long, or more, depending on your preference, and tie them together at one end.
  2. Have child hold the knotted end while you hold the loose end.
  3. Have the child begin twisting their ends in one direction. You begin twisting your end in the opposite direction. You can count to 100 or sing a song, but twist it a lot. It will start to fold, so you’ll have to hold on tight and keep it pulled straight while you continue to twist. If you drop it, pick it up and start twisting it again.
  4. Grab the middle of the twisted string and have the child hand you their end. You hold both ends and countdown “3, 2, 1”. Then you let go  of the knotted end while holding onto the loose ends and the knotted end. The yarn twists up into a thicker string. Tie all the loose ends and the knotted end so that it won’t come undone.
  5. Voila! A magic cord! 
The Finished Magic Cord
The Finished Magic Cord

This is a great open-ended object for playing with or makes a cute necklace or bracelet.

NOTE: Actively supervise children so that they aren’t napping with it, putting it around their neck or putting it in their mouth or wrapping it tightly around their extremities.

If you would like a formal lesson plan for your administrators or because you’d like more details, click here: Magic Cord Lesson Plan

The knotted end of the Magic Cord
This is the end of the Magic Cord after you have tied the loose ends together.


Scheduling Time For Unscheduled Play

“When we treat children’s play as seriously as it deserves, we are helping them feel the joy that’s to be found in the creative spirit. It’s the things we play with and the people who help us play that make a great difference in our lives.” ~Fred Rogers.

“Children need the freedom and time to play. Play is not a luxury. Play is a necessity.” Kay Redfield Jamison (professor of psychiatry)

Sand Area and Play Kitchen
Children enjoy the combination of the play kitchen with the sand area

Life is busy. There are endless deadlines, obligations, appointments, work, school, and social commitments. Packing the kids up from one place, rushing to another, finding time to eat, getting the kids ready for bed, waking up in the morning and doing it all over again. This is normal. Especially if you have more than one child. Managing busy schedules can be very challenging for parents, but even more so for children. Children are strong and resilient, but have a need for down time. Not the kind that they get in the car, either. In fact, sometimes you have to just schedule time for doing nothing.

In fact, if you want to see the relationship with your child truly blossom, just sit with them. We don’t have to always read a book, or be doing something. Sometimes, just sitting and staring at the clouds can be a bonding experience. Just sit and let them play in the sandbox. Kick a ball back and forth. It is the simplest act for a child to play, but as an adult, it can be difficult sometimes. The decision to consciously and intentionally NOT impose our own ideas of what we should do, and allowing young children the freedom to decide what to do, can be the most beneficial decision we make as parents, educators, and caregivers . This is the heart of child centered, play-based education. The spontaneous and self-determined play that a young child engages in, is probably the most important time they spend. Free time promotes resilience, creativity, and problem solving skills. So, schedule time for unscheduled play time. Your kids will thrive, and you will see a positive difference in them.

Listen to what Temple University psychologist Kathy Hirsh-Pasek and others have to say here

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