I don’t have free play in the mornings for my infants, instead for Term 1 I set up fine motor stations as morning activities. I feel that fine motor is a core element for the infants before introducing any pencils or letter formation.
To begin with, the children are given tubs of playdoh and using their thumb and pointer finger they make lots of little balls with the playdoh. We then move onto making sausages with the playdoh and using the side of their hand as a knife to cut the sausage up. Children then get free play with the rolling pins and cookie cutters. To save your table tops I would recommend getting mats to use with playdoh. I got PVC table mats in Heatons before the Summer and they were reduced to only 50c, messy mats are also available in Heatons which can be used with the playdoh also.
Another station is tweezer work. I am lucky to have these large plastic tweezers in my classroom. I have a plastic bowl from IKEA with pom poms in them and other bowls that are empty. The children must sort the pom poms by colour and move them to the bowls using the tweezers. I encourage the children to use their pointer finger and thumb when using these tweezers also. This activity can also be done using coloured matchsticks. I’ve also used a chip and dip tray for sorting coloured matchsticks and tweezer work.
Beading work is another station for fine motor work. The beads can be different sizes and colours and the children can create patterns or copy patterns using pattern cards. Similarly the children could use the plastic spools. Jigsaws are also another activity for fine motor along with pegs and pegboards. For children who may have difficulty with fine motor activities I would recommend large button boards from the Early Learning Centre.
Not forgetting Senior Infants, I have beads with letters on them and flashcards. The children can make words using the beads and threading them onto small laces or matchsticks. Seniors also like to copy and extend patterns using the smaller beads. I think Senior Infants always benefit from fine motor activities in Term 1 after the Summer holidays.
As part of the areas in my room, I have a fine motor gym where the activities are stored and one or two are on top of the unit and children have the opportunity to visit there during the day. It is near the classroom door and sometimes the class like to get into line first so they can play in the fine motor gym while they are waiting. I hope these activities give you some ideas for your own classroom in September.