Fine motor skill refers to the ability to control small movements of the arms, hands and fingers. It is the important group of skills involved in the ability to manipulate smaller objects- think pinching, grasping and holding. Fine motor skills also involve vision, mainly visual perception, which is made up of seven elements including visual spatial relationships (the ability to determine the ‘odd one out’) and visual closure (the ability to determine, from incomplete forms, the one that would be the same as the completed form). Clearly, fine motor skills are going to be vital for many aspects of self-care and learning. We see evidence of underdeveloped fine motor skills in all aspects of school life: children may struggle with their handwriting, find pulling triggers on spray bottles difficult, and fin throwing and catching balls of different sizes tricky… so what can we do about underdeveloped fine motor skills?

Cool Characters is a teacher-friendly programme that provides activity advice for developing fine motor skills and supports the skills needed for fluent writing by improving body awareness, grouping letters for learning formation, while enjoying a variety of sensory media. It is designed for use with individuals or small groups of children, although principles could be applied as whole class activities. It focuses on children’s fine motor development. It was originally conceptualised by the Children’s Occupational Therapy Team at the Gem Centre in Wolverhampton, and was then developed in 2020 by a Specialist Teacher. Since then, pilot projects in several Wolverhampton schools have shown incredibly encouraging results. The programme includes assessments, lesson-plan-style notes, and suggestions for helpful activities.

We now have a brand new course regarding fine motor skills and the use of the Cool Characters programme, the background and sensory knowledge behind it, case studies to discuss and problem solve, as well as some guidance around delivering the programme. The course is written and delivered by Roz Roscoe, Children’s Occupational Therapist and you can find it here.