Friday, January 2, 2009

Physical Friday: Piggy Banks

Piggy Banks are a great activity for developing fine motor skills. Holding small coins requires the fingers to work together with the thumb. After about 9 months of age children have usually developed the ability to grasp an object between their pointer finger and their thumb. This is called the pincer grasp. Once a child has developed this, putting coins in a piggy bank is a great way to fine tune this fine motor skill.

A baby and coins? What a terrible combination, you say! Fortunately I have a solution. My husband is fascinated with pigs: stuffed animals, pictures, figurines; you name it, he's probably got one! So at a baby shower for our first, a friend of mine introduced us to this incredible Fisher-Price Laugh and Learn Learning Piggy Bank. It has settings for Learning Time and Music Time. Within hours of my daughter figuring this toy out we had all the songs memorized and we still sing them to this day! This post isn't meant to be a review of this particular toy, but it is one of my favorites and I could go on all day. But I'll stop now because it speaks for itself. So the coins are large and plastic and not a choking hazard, so it's great for little hands and mouths.

As our daughter grew, we introduced her to her own piggy bank that was collecting real money. She loved to shake it, then to dump it out and eventually to put the coins in herself. We have passed many happy hours dumping coins out and putting them back in. I was just amazed to see her dexterity in not only holding the coin but in turning it just right to drop it in the little slot.

Before you right this off as not relevant for daily life, there are advantages to such a skill. It takes fine motor control to hold a utensil and use it to pick food up off a plate and successfully guide it into your mouth. Putting coins in a piggy bank is a fun, playful way for your little ones to practice that skill and develop the dexterity necessary to actually maneuver food their mouths. Now isn't that useful!


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