Best Toys for Developing Hand-Eye Coordination
What is hand-eye coordination?
Hand-eye coordination is the combination of vision and hand movements to complete a task. Through play and exploration, your baby is developing the ability to use her fingers with purpose and in coordination with her eyes. You can help your baby develop hand-eye coordination by letting her reach for objects while sitting on your lap, or by using a baby gym that provides objects that encourage your baby to use her hands to play. Your baby will develop and improve her hand-eye coordination with practice and preparation for more complex tasks like turning the pages of a book, feeding herself, and holding a pencil to form letters.
How can you help your baby develop hand-eye coordination?
- To encourage hand-eye coordination at this age, provide your baby with objects that make noise like a rattle that will introduce cause and effect: when the rattle moves, it makes noise.
- When using objects that make noise, shake a rattle from side to side and allow your baby to “localize” and turn her head towards the sound.
- Babies are attracted to different textures and colors, and providing interesting (and safe!) objects makes it more fun and interesting for your baby to explore.
- Your baby is using her eyes to judge shape and distance. Roll a ball back and forth with her, so that she learns how her eyes and hands can accomplish things together.
- As your baby is learning to control her hands, she may enjoy stacking bricks in a tower and banging things together. Stack small boxes or blocks and let baby have fun knocking them down.
- Offer your baby some plastic bowls, cups and buckets and fill each with a different substance like water, sand and dried beans or rice. Demonstrate how to scoop and pour the different substances and let her observe and also get her hands involved in the fun.
- Show your baby how to use play dough and have fun squishing and moulding using a rolling pin and shaped cutter.
- Tackle a puzzle together and let your child pick up the individual pieces and try to fit them together by twisting and flipping the pieces.
- Turn up the music and shake some maracas, inviting your child join in. Grab some pots and pans and wooden spoons and have your child play the drums.
18 months to 2 years:
- Your child might take delight in throwing objects, so why not take the game outside and practice throwing a ball with each other.
- Art activities like drawing and painting can show your child that her small movements with a crayon or paintbrush are making the marks on paper.
- Encourage your child to point to objects in her environment and name them. If your child spots a bird in the tree, ask her to point to it and show you where it is. If you are reading a book, ask questions so your child can point to the answer on the page.
- Your child will be able to pick up tiny objects easily and place them back down again, carefully and precisely. Playing with shape-sorting toys and simple puzzles will help refine this skill.
- Building with blocks helps build hand-eye coordination and practice cause and effect by knocking the blocks down to see what happens.
- Your child wants to be helpful, so provide opportunities for her to gain confidence. Allow your child to help with household tasks such as wiping the table, sweeping or dusting (with a child sized broom for safety!). You can work on cleaning up together!
3 years and older:
- Your child will be coordinated enough to use toy scissors and write down a letter or two. Encourage creativity using activities coloring, tracing, using stickers and tape which require careful manipulation of the fingers and hands.
- Encourage your child to be physically active. Set up obstacle courses that involve walking, crawling, climbing, and sudden changes in direction. This helps your child to develop control of her muscle groups.
- Your child is becoming independent, and as her hand-eye coordination improves, she will want to do more for herself. Introduce activities that foster her independence like helping with dinner, tidying the house, and washing her hands and face before meals.
Looking for age appropriate toys to help your baby or toddler develop their hand eye co-ordination? Check out Hello Charlie’s toys for hand eye co-ordination right here.
Copyright © Vanessa Layton 2013
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