When students draw shapes and figures, they use different muscles in their fingers than when they form letters.

If a student is drawing a cartoon or a geometric shape such as parallelogram, she must visualize the picture both before and while she is drawing. In addition to having a mental picture of the drawing, she must imagine how she will lay it out on the page. Finally, the student must “tell” the muscles in her fingers what movements to make to draw the image in the space on her paper.

These spatial aspects of drawing are important to producing a shape or figure that is a good representation of what the student “sees” in her mind.

Helpful Hints

  • Improve visual-motor control by presenting activities where students coordinate vision with fine motor activities. Upright surfaces such as easels and chalkboards allow students to see hand movements at eye level. Dot-to-dot books, tracing activities, maze activities, playing jacks and pick-up sticks, and building puzzles are all activities where hand movements are guided by visual cues.  
  • Encourage students to strengthen finger muscles by creating rubber band designs on geoboards, doing papier-mâché activities, using precise tools such as tweezers and clothespins for pinching objects, and even trying squirt gun target practice (undoubtedly an outside activity).  
  • Encourage students to take the time to plan a systematic approach to complex fine motor activities, such as drawing a three dimensional object or vectors in science class, and to monitor their performance at each step of the activity.